It’s all in how you look at things. You can communicate the positives in your life. Or the negatives. In storytelling, both have a place.
I admit I’m often guilty of seeing the world around me as a dark and dreary place (literary cliché intended). Sometime though, it makes sense to spice things up with a bit of sunshine. A grin, even in the most down of times. A touch of laughter, such as the following anecdote:
I had a nice chat with Carl Perkins back in my days as a daily newspaper reporter. Carl was, of course, part of a group of Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios artists that included Mickey Gilley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings.
Carl told me (paraphrasing) “Sam called us together and said ‘boys, I’ve got enough money to promote one of you to a big label. After that, we’ll have enough to promote the rest of you. So I want each of you to draw one of these straws. ”
Then Carl grinned at me. “Obviously, I didn’t draw the long straw.”
He got his shot at stardom, true. Had a great career and made a lot of people smile and tap their toes. Got his name in bright lights — or I might not have had the chance to talk to him.
But Elvis was the big star. Elvis got the first shot at fame. Elvis raked in the royalties from songs, albums, movies, live performances filling all the major event venues, and even promotional items and toys (I had an Elvis lunchbox). Elvis this, Elvis that, Elvis had all of it.
Still, Carl set the standard for good will, good grace and genuine happiness. He winked at the world. He saw the good through the disappointment. He stepped back and didn’t complain about being left behind in the first blush of success.
“Obviously, I didn’t draw the long straw,” he said. But in the long view, I remember Carl Perkins with appreciation and generosity. He was honest. He made me laugh, and I’ll always enjoy the infectious grin.
Thank you, Carl Lee Perkins, for showing me the way to be positive.