Friday, May 1, 2009

Al Lindner as Curly

“One thing,” Curly (Jack Palance) rasped out to Mitch holding up his index finger. “That’s the secret of life.”
And, of course Mitch (Billy Crystal), like the clueless “city slicker” that he was asked, “What’s the one thing?”
“You’ll know,” was Curly’s reply.

I’ve always liked that piece of dialogue in “City Slickers”. Because, no matter how trite it may have actually been, it’s pretty much true. It doesn’t take someone else to tell us what the “one thing” is but it may take a while to reveal itself to us. Especially when we finally figure out that it’s not money or property or anything else that fits the category of “stuff”. It’s usually our family or just a sense of inner peace and contentment which can come from any number of sources—but pretty much never from stuff.

While I’m at it, maybe I should remind you of another pretty good line from another not really good movie. This one’s from 1977 in “Oh God”. During the trial to “prove” whether or not George Burns was God, he was asked by the smarmy evangelist, “Does God answer all prayers?” To which George Burns/God responded, “Yes, but sometimes the answer is No.” And that’s pretty much true too, isn’t it? Too many of us ask God for stuff. You ask Santa Claus for stuff, not God.

So, that brings me to Al Lindner. For the uninitiated, Al’s a fishing guy. He started out in the 70’s in Brainerd, Minnesota with In-Fisherman. He brought science and technique to fishing magazines and television (as opposed to the old “whooooooo boy, lookit that hog bass” type of fishing show). And, he also managed to bring a lot greater entertainment factor to fishing because of it. His first passion was walleye but over the years that passion has expanded to a number of other fresh-water species.

His new venture is called “Angling Edge” and it’s a TV fishing show on Versus (what used to be Outdoor Life Network). Al has always been a bearded, straight forward kind of guy who still carries an accent from his earlier years in northern Wisconsin—although the “dis” and “dat” and “dese” and “dose” in his speech aren’t as noticeable anymore.

Bear with me folks; I’m getting to my point here.

Al Lindner is an unabashed Christian. Evangelical even. But he doesn’t beat you up about it—never has. One of things I really like about watching his new show though is the last few minutes of each episode. These 2 or 3 minutes feature Al talking just a bit about his faith in an unassuming, sharing kind of way—just the right tone, quite frankly, to get me to listen to his brief message.

So the connection to Curly and Mitch and the “one thing” is this: Today Al said that each night when he goes to bed he spends a few minutes thanking God for “just one thing”. Just one good thing from today. Some days, he said, it’s hard to identify that one thing and other days it’s hard to narrow it down to one. But he always manages to do it.

And you know, I liked that. I think I’m going to try to start doing that each night when I crawl into bed next to my wife. Give thanks for just one thing each and every day.

Long ago, I started, and try to make a habit, of each and every morning before I get up of offering a short prayer for “just one thing”—although it’s always the same thing—and that’s help and guidance to get through today. That’s it. Just one thing.

But, maybe giving thanks each night for “just one thing” is one of the best things we can do too.

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