The Downtowner, according to 3-year-old me.

Where I ‘come from’, is a friendly place, that the people are glad to see me. They smile and think I’m cute. I am sitting with my family. My Dad, to be specific. He’s larger than life, SuperSize, I’m tiny. It’s early morning time. I’m hungry and thirsty. I want Milk… No, I want Chocolate Milk. That too sweet, over-chocolated milk, you can’t get at home. I want chocolate milk, in a red plastic-pebbly surfaced cup. And I want ice in it.

I get my chocolate milk on ice, exactly how I want it.

I am happy. Someone paid attention and spoiled me. That is the place where I come from: In the way that I remember the Lee’s Downtowner. That is the restaurant that my Grandparents ran. My aunts and uncles worked there. I went on Saturday mornings with my Dad… I think? This chocolate milk memory had to have been from when I was just three or barely four years old.

Anyway, when I think of what a restaurant ‘should’ be in my mind. That is it. A special place, filled with family. A place where kids are paid attention to, talked to, served something extra special. Even chocolate milk, on ice, if they want it. Not to just spoil them, for the sake of spoiling. I don’t think kids always deserve to get anything and everything they want. I do think, that in this place, a restaurant, or our restaurant, these things are so simple, and so doable, and so rewarding to those kids, that we should do what we can do.

Maybe, if it’s God’s Will, and one of these┬ásame kids we serve, only has a few memories to hold on to, about a time with their family, in our place, let’s make it a good one. Just like drinking my chocolate milk on ice ­čÖé

So that is my ‘Come From’ – in regards to the restaurant biz.

I have lots of ‘Come Froms’ – they in fact, color and construct, and even command, how I go about my biz of life, in every different aspect and facet of it.

Straight-Line coach and author Dusan Djukich calls it our Inner Stance. This place or this idea or the shape of the lens through which we ‘see’ our life. Lucky for me, I have a clear-cut ‘Come From’ on my idea of the restaurant business, because I happen to now work within it. I am glad I have this, and it is a positive memory, therefore I have a goal, something to aim for, something by which I can measure progress, wins and losses.

I can see on the face of a four-year old whether we are doing a good job or not. For me, it is not their approval I am seeking, I am looking at the value of the experience as a whole. When they are justly and truly served well, the parents know it. The parents, our paying customers, and guests, see the investments we make in their kids and they come back, time and again. They become family, yes, in this place called a business.

So what if I didn’t have a ‘Come From’ that was solid in my mind? What if I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted a certain experience to look like? Well, then I have problems. And I DO HAVE plenty of problems. See just this one part of the restaurant world is clear to me. Many other parts aren’t.

Just like in my life as a whole, I need that ‘Come From’ to be crystalline. If it is pure, and clear, defined like it’s got a professional lens-like focus, then I find happiness. Because I can see where I want to make adjustments. I know exactly which paths to take, to get me closer to my own version of ‘perfection’.

Where I don’t have clear focus. Where I am without a solid ‘Come From’ I am straddling. I drift and wander. When I haven’t rooted myself in a choice and stuck to one principal above all others, I fight and fail. There are tons of places in my life, where I am unclear, and haven’t made a conscious effort to CHOOSE a ‘Come From’ or Inner Stance. They say it can be done: that we can just pick a foundation and use it to operate.

Like most people, I am more comfortable with the ones that were embedded early in life. The ones that have been with me the longest. I know some are healthy and good, others are not.

Actually, I wrote a note to myself in preparation for writing today. I do that a lot. Little stickys, with scribbles. They are all over this desk. I wrote that my ‘Come From’ is Fear, Anger and Rage. I wrote that when I perceive wrongness, and when I judge something to be against my values, I immediately jump into quick Anger, which I know is Fear.

My fuse is short, escalation is quick, Rage and I are old bad friends that torment each other. Actually I probably torment others with it.

So there. A ‘Come From’ that I don’t like. One that has probably been around as long as my favorite-ever cup of iced chocolate milk.

Could Love replace the fear that seems so deeply embedded? Could Grace and Mercy, Forgiveness and Fun, with Laughter come, and sweep away the Yelling?

I pray so.

When I go every week, and sit among the Men of our Wednesday morning Bible Study, I feel their power. All of them are older than me. The fire in them is still burning bright, yet it doesn’t seem to scorch and destroy, like mine wants to. I sense a deepness of the glow and whiter, hotter core of their beings. I hope mine develops someday too.

The jumpy-ness, the flickering and dancing of my fear-based angers, seem more mosh-pit, than samba. I pray that with God’s help, if it is His Will, that I may calm and direct my passions in more productive manners.

Folks, I care and love and want so much, for things to be good and right and prosperous. I want that in my work, in my relationships, in my spiritual life too. I must be caught in between commitments. I must be straddling two opposing ideas. I must be lost, and not wanting to decide which road signs to follow, when I blow up, and lose my cool. If I was more clear on my direction, I could maybe be calm as I put on the brakes, turn the wheel, pick a new road. Instead I usually hit the ditch, revvvv the motor, cuss the map itself, and every other driver on the road.

God has a plan. I am pretty sure that it is all laid out. He’s put things into black and white. His love abides and exists just now as it always has. I can have it, when I decide I want it. Really though, I have to decide. If I don’t know where I ‘Come From’ in my relationships and my spiritual life, I guess I can turn to him and ask him to guide me.

What a wonderful guide God would be.


Aaron Nichols

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