After college and before I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, I bartended for two years in Boulder, CO. To pass the slow winter days, I befriended the elderly saxophonist who played outside the restaurant.

Eugene “Lucky” Hudson had lived each of his 75 years with a passion for experience that took him all over the country, playing juke joints and living out of suitcases. Every afternoon, I would wipe the bar, and he’d listen to my stories — quibbles with co-workers, laments about holiday demands, wounds left over from spats with friends. Regardless of how silly or insipid that day’s complaints were, Lucky would listen with his whole body, nodding and humming and closing his eyes, “tsk”ing and laughing with his whole belly. At the end of my rants, he’d wipe his beer mustache with the back of his hand, fix me with his huge brown eyes, and say, “Well, let me tell you something about people …” and off he’d launch into a story.

At the time, I’d wonder what an anecdote about working a farm in Alabama or sporting around the jazz clubs of San Francisco had to do with my problems. I saw only the specific details of his situations, the distinct personalities he described. Now, with the benefit of a few experiences of my own, I see those details as markers, giving tangible form to the real messages behind his words.

When I remember those words, I no longer hear about the rough drought back in 1939 or the gleam of a fin-tailed Cadillac. I hear his low, smooth voice saying, “Your momma just needs to be loved — don’t question it, just do it” or “Forgiveness is our chance to create divinity — granting it only begets more.”

What swims back to me with complete and ruthless clarity are the lessons he tossed around as effortlessly as seeds from a farmer’s hand. Those seeds took root, and I’m only now hearing his wisdom as he heard my woes.
By Mariska vanAalst, 50 things that really matter, Rodale Press for Hallmark

As I read Mariska’s words, I remember my journey to whatever wisdom I have. As I got older, I realized the world didn’t revolve around me and my thinking evolved into the realization we are all intertwined in one way or another. My experiences could help you. Your experiences could help me. That interconnection still amazes me.

Wisdom isn’t about knowing everything … or even anything. It’s about experiencing life, learning its lessons and passing it along. Listen to the stories … not just the words. Listen to the lessons. Apply those lessons to your situation. And don’t be afraid to pass your story along {a good way is an e-book my Deanna Kohlhofer — by way of full disclosure, my daughter — available at http://journeywithd.com/ebooks/}.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Enthusiasm is very good lubrication for the mind.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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5 Responses to Wisdom

  1. TamrahJo says:

    I’m so grateful for the blogging world – my family is one of story tellers, but in my journey out into the adult world, I so rarely found those who use storytelling as a center of their being – – I think our stories are truly our life’s blood and I’m so glad to get to hear yours.


    • We have a tendency to think our stories or experiences are not worthy of repeat or interesting. In and of themselves, they probably aren’t, but in the context of our relationships with others they are. They are a link to the past and a guideline for the future. I just found out a couple of weeks ago my grandmother rented a garage to Charles Lindbergh back in the mid 1930s. I had never heard that story before. Stories are our life’s blood … from one generation to the next … from one family to another. Thanks for the comment. Have a blessed Easter.


  2. soaringbrain says:

    Hello, my name is James. I grew up in Boulder and for whatever reason Lucky popped into my head tonight. I havent thought of him in many years. We developed a friendship after meeting at one of my mom’s friends weddings back in the mid 80’s. I was just 11 or 12 years old, playing the sax, myself. I would come to his special spot on the mall and we would chat and talk. Those were very hard years for me. Lucky was like family, a true friend, mentor with a wise, kind heart with a real ear for listening and a soul for speaking. I think of those eyes and that laugh and I get a tear in my eye for all the wonderful people and experiences that this life brings. I am so grateful that someone, somewhere remember’s Lucky and the beauty he brought to this world. Thank you for this blog… thank you.


    • I can’t take credit for bringing memories of Lucky to you. I was just the conduit of words by Mariska vanAalst in 50 things that really matter [Rodale Press for Hallmark]. I’m glad you also have kind memories of this man. He sounds like someone I would have enjoyed meeting.


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