Keep Some Sunshine on Your Face
A few nights back I was kicked back watching television when I stumbled across a documentary on HBO about the late comedian Richard Pryor. I have always enjoyed stand-up comedy and Richard Pryor is high up on my list of favorite comedians. The documentary wound through Pryor’s at-times troubled life. Throughout the show there were short clips from many of Pryor’s various stand-up specials. I was drifting in and out of watching (maybe even dozing a bit) when the clip came on where Pryor was doing his infamous character Mudbone. And this particular clip ended with Mudbone’s simple analogy for living a happy life and keeping positive – “Keep some sunshine on your face”.
That struck me, I’m not really sure why but at the time it just did. I got up and went to my computer. I had seen the routine before and even remembered the line. But I knew that I had heard or read something similar before. Then I found this…"Keep your face always towards sunshine and shadows will fall behind you". It was from Walt Whitman. I knew I had read it before. I also interpret Whitman’s quote to mean - if you stay positive, all of the negative in life can’t and won’t affect you because you simply don’t focus on it. Being the social media nerd that I have become, I posted both quotes on my Facebook page and showered both Whitman and Mudbone with my approval. Little did I know that a few days later, I would be thinking about these same quotes yet again as I encountered 2 great applications of those thoughts in my own life.
As I pulled up the hill at Toccoa Speedway I was optimistic for a good night at the oldest running dirt oval in Georgia. Toccoa is rustic and a little rough around the edges but it is brimming with history and atmosphere. Those folks that fill those grandstands really love their racing and they have shown it every time I have ever been there. I was a little frustrated that our car count was lower than I had expected but still not terribly much so because what we did have is about all you need for Toccoa’s little 5/16ths of a mile bullring, so no big deal. After the race, which coincidentally was pretty exciting, someone posted a negative comment on our page that somewhat miffed me. The comment wasn’t about me or my series but more about the track. I got a little upset and began to type a terse response. As I was typing someone liked a previous status on Facebook which popped up a notification on the screen. I quickly looked at the notification and low and behold it was the status mentioned above. I went right back and deleted what I had just typed without ever posting it. No need to answer a negative with a negative. Just keep some sunshine on your face I thought to myself.
As I sat today looking at the world as told by social media (which is usually more entertaining that TV news but is rarely as accurate) I came across a status by my friend Chris Nunn where he wondered if he was in the right business because of such internet bashing of tracks and drivers. As I read Chris’ thoughts I thought to myself about how much better our sport would be if everyone chose to keep some sunshine on their faces. Now I know that sometimes things need to be brought to the light and questioned. But if we could all just find a way to do it that was more about helping and less about hurting, wouldn’t that make our sport a better?
I learned a similar lesson last year when I met Blake Grinstead at Dublin 441 Speedway in South Georgia. I wrote about that experience too. I am thankful that I keep getting handed these life lessons and I am even more thankful that I am learning them while doing what I love to do. I’m glad that God has given me these opportunities and I am thrilled to have a place to be able to share them. My Daddy always said to make sure to leave it better than you find it. So here’s my advice for the month. The next time you are thinking about putting someone on blast for something they have said (or typed) or done to you, just stop for a moment. Take a deep breath and make sure to keep a little sunshine on your face.