They say your life is to some degree determined long before you arrive on the planet. By that decree the author supposes his life was already determined before he arrived. But you have the responsibility for achieving your purpose and accomplishing something with your life. He doesn’t believe it is all predetermined; you can determine what you make of your life by the choices you make. Part of it has to do with your outlook, your focus, and your perspective. It is good to focus on the positive rather than the negative. The author always felt he could do something positive with his life. Regardless of how many setbacks he encountered, he kept that positive perspective. Whenever one door closed, he went to another door and kept knocking until someone opened the door. While alive you can partially handle your situation. Once you are deceased it is over.
You know when you are creative you have a chance of something good happening in your life. And you know nothing good will happen when you are dead. He believes that’s why people say it’s good to be alive. To be alive is to always maintain hope that better things will come. In this book he has collected some of his best unpublished and published sayings, short stories, and poems, relative to the idea that it’s good to be alive, while focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
When he considered writing another book, he kept thinking what he could say that he hadn’t said before in other of his books. He has written forty-one books altogether.
The author recalls one Christmas in Chicago. His son was approximately ten years old. A friend of his son and his father had stopped by to wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. His son’s friend father asked him what he got for Christmas. He told him what he had gotten and then said, he didn’t really need any gifts, it’s just good to be alive.
His sister who lives in Fort Worth once told him that he should be happy with what he had rather than wishing for a different set of circumstances. She also said, after reading several of his books, that he should write about the way he wanted things to be, rather than the way they really were. He had to contemplate this suggestion for a while.
Most of his books have been about the negatives in his life rather than the positives. In this book he decided to focus on the positives in his background rather than the negatives.
At his age he is indeed simply happy to be alive. He has many things to be happy for. He elaborates on some of them in this book. There are many things in his background that serves him well.
He wasn’t born under the best of circumstances. His mother had little medical care, and provided little medical care for them, but he survived with the help of the Good Lord! His mother basically relied on home remedies. They lived in a drafty-old-tin-roof shack. If castor oil, Black-Draught, Epson salts, or cod-liver oil couldn’t cure it, then it couldn’t be cured, as far as his mother was concerned.
His parents didn’t monitor his grades or his activities, but this prepared him to be disciplined enough to handle his own business. He never got a note sent home by any of his teachers. His teachers nor parents ever gave him high praise; this made him understand that his greatest praise had to come from within. He knew he had to go for himself.
He was raised in an isolated rural area of a small Southern town, but that also kept him from many of the things that go on in larger cities. He had to plow a mule from sunup to sunset, but that kept him busy and out of trouble. When he was plowing that mule from sunup to sunset, he focused on one day being able to get away from that farm, being able to take a shower and wearing clean clothes, and to eat in fine restaurants. His parents ignored him in many ways, but that allowed him to be creative and independent. He attended a small rural elementary, junior high, and high school; but that allowed him to enjoy the many perks of a small idyllic atmosphere. His elementary, Junior high, and high school education wasn’t the best, but it allowed him to graduate high school and go on to college. The teachers didn’t pay him much attention, but that allowed his development to take an ingenious pattern. When he was in high school, he focused on being in college and working for his purpose, while doing what college students do.
He was never good at fighting, didn’t have anyone to teach him, so he focused on academics. He was always small for his age and not very strong. Boys who were several years behind him in grade level were bigger and stronger. He was mostly an “A” student when it came to academics. He never wanted to hurt anyone, and he guessed the point of a fight is to inflict damage. In school he was never good at anything except academics, because it is all he was ever exposed to. He got very little of any kind of training at home or in the community. The coach wouldn’t let him play any of the four sports they competed in. They only had one coach for these four sports.
His father was away from home approximately 300 days a year for twenty years. This encompassed most of his youth. His father wasn’t much of a role model, but it did teach him self-reliance. It taught him what it was like to be the man of the house. He knew his father had his own life on the Gulf Coast, but the author learned to be more responsible to his future family.
They didn’t get many material things for Christmas but were alive and physically healthy. Because of living in a drafty-old-tin-roof house they were always catching colds during the winter. His mother usually would place a woolen rag soaked in tallow to treat the chest cold, which was usually where the cold was, in your chest. This was usually the only threat to their health. He particularly had a seasonal allergy which would attack on various occasions. The other children seem not to pay much attention to it. But it prepared him for a life-long situation.