Thursday, July 18, 2013

Creativity Tips: Good Landings

The first few posts of this week stemmed from visual ideas others gave me. Today, I'm thinking of a gift of words.

Almost 40 years ago*, when I was studying at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, I met Steve Popkes. Steve's folks, Earl and Opal, also lived in Columbia, so I had the pleasure of getting to know the whole family.

Opal was fascinating -- a writer and good-hearted woman with boundless talent and curiosity. We got along pretty well. On the other hand, I was never totally sure where I stood with Earl. He was hard for me to read.

One day, though, he said something to me that has helped -- repeatedly -- over the years. I can't remember what situation I was struggling with, but I know it had ended badly.  Earl listened quietly and then kindly said, "Jan, any landing you walk away from is a good landing."

Now, coming from most people, that might have been a dismissive cliché. But Earl Popkes was a pilot in WWII -- a Naval aviator who flew seaplanes. He knew a thing or two about landings.

"Any landing you walk away from is a good landing" has helped me handle a lot of moments, a lot of endings. A lot of landings. Maybe it will resonate with you -- or, maybe you had to hear it from Earl.

Point is, we never know when words will make a huge impact on someone. I always hope my words help.

*Is it really almost 40 years ago? Aieeee. How is that possible?

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