I was nine years old and based on the fact that I had been a pretty good kid that year, I was anticipating the onslaught of all my Christmas presents from Santa.
My friends, mostly from the nicer neighborhoods, had shared with me a long list of the presents that they planned to receive for Christmas. My parents were the working poor—my mom worked for the Los Angeles Times and my stepfather worked at the Santa Fe railroad. There were six of us living in a small, 1,000-square-foot home, in San Bernardino, California one of the most dangerous cities in America.
I never thought of myself as poor, but like most kids, especially at nine years of age, I knew I needed lots of presents from Santa. Needless to say, my expectations were extremely high.
At last, on Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to open up my present. Could it be the Mattel “Varoom” for my bicycle, or maybe the Batman CB walkie-talkies? I attacked the box, and when I opened it, I gasped! A compass! Are you serious? A compass? How could this be? I had been a great kid all year. If Santa, or for that matter, my parents loved me, where the heck was my stuff?
But something happened. As the year progressed after that Christmas, I began to realize that the compass was actually magic. Not magic in the sense that it could levitate my teacher during class (although that would be cool!) but magic in that it taught me everything I now know about a successful life. This is what I learned:
The magic of true north
The first magical power of the compass is the most important. My compass never compromises, it always points to true north. It doesn’t just do it every once in a while, or only when it’s convenient. It is driven by the electromagnetic power of the planet. I know that integrity and principle is the electromagnetic force that drives all human success. Like the compass, I have learned to point to true north no matter what. A life based on principle and integrity is a life of success, health, and true happiness.
The magic of appreciation over expectation
It took me a while to get here, but I have finally achieved the ability to appreciate everything — literally everything. That Christmas morning, I had a tremendous amount of expectation. Unfortunately, however, I was so poorly evolved at that point in my life that I didn’t understand the power of appreciation. When my son Chase was just three years old, we sat on the driveway and watched a bright red bug for 15 minutes with total wonder and enthusiasm. This may sound crazy, I know — but when you can evolve to the point of being able to appreciate a bug in the driveway you might be on the right track. The magic compass taught me that the more we appreciate, the more we have to appreciate. Now that is truly magic.
The magic of the currency of goodness
That Christmas I was under the impression that if I was good the universe owed me something. It turns out that the wages for goodness are an inner peace of knowing you’ve done the right thing in helping others. I didn’t know it at the time, but the lessons of the magic compass were the ultimate gift.
The magic of the shoebox
As a young kid, literally, all of my worldly possessions fit into a shoebox. I kept the shoebox under my bed as it held everything I owned. Army guys perfect for melting, a magnifying glass for barbecuing ants on a sunny Southern California day, and, yes, my compass. Turns out just about every material thing we need in life can fit in a shoebox.
Today I enjoy an amazing life with a beautiful wife and great kids. I get to do cool stuff in my job, and, yes, I have acquired more stuff. But sitting in front of my keyboard is my trusty Christmas compass to remind me to stay on course, to appreciate everything, and to do “good for Goodness Sake.”
Here is to wishing you the bountiful blessings of the lessons of the Christmas compass.