“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Welcome to May’s “Mysteries of the Mind” monthly newsletter!
We are just a few days away from Mother’s Day and so I begin with a quote that hung in my mother’s kitchen throughout my childhood on a small painted wooden sign that read “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” The sign didn’t give the name of the author, nor did it offer the speech or book it came from. However, the concept of the quote inspired her, and today it and she inspires me.
My mother was a single mom for most of my life and she had the difficult task of raising a precocious son with a love of music and magic.
At one of my early performances at the Magic Castle she was seated next to actor Neil Patrick Harris and with a smile he asked if she performed magic as well. Her answer was “I only do one trick, I make magicians appear” he laughed and she continued “but I’ve only done it once!”
As a girl she worked as a checker in her father’s grocery store, then owned a small museum replica gift shop she called “the Cat’s Meow” before changing her career to work as a CRS Broker in real estate. She worked long hours and focused all of her tenacity and energy on customer service, integrity, self-education and humor.
At night I would catch her reading the encyclopedia from cover to cover. First the A’s and then the B’s and so on. After she had read the entire set, she would start over and read them again. From that set of books alone she walked away with a better education than many people gather over years in university.
At times the housing market was slow and she would stay up late at night working on marketing, advertising and personal newsletters to capture the attention of past clients in the hope that they would use her services again or refer her to their friends. Sometimes, times were so tough and money was so tight that she would tie a knot in the end of her rope and rent rooms in our house to help pay bills and hold on.
I never went hungry. She made sure of that. I never went without shoes or clothes or a roof over my head. She would go hungry first. It was important to her that I graduate from university, she used to say, “An evil government or an evil person can take away your house or your possessions, but they can never take away your mind.” She wanted to make sure that I had a knot to hold onto. At the peak of her career she was bringing home $300,000 per year selling family properties, an incredible sum for a single mother in Utah.
In her final days she taught me her most valuable lesson. “In this life, surround yourself with people of kindness over those who are just rich or beautiful.Because wealth and money are fleeting but kindness is forever. Be a person of kindness and you will never be poor.”
My mother passed away a few days ago (March 28th of 2012) at the age of 55. But through her hard work and dedication to the two of us as a family, she gave me the opportunity for an education, helped me through the struggle of becoming a full time educator and entertainer, and has given me the gift of a knot to hang onto to catch my breath before beginning to climb back up to the top of the rope again.
I don’t know who originally said, “When you get to the end of your rope tie a knot and hang on.” A quick search on the Internet finds Franklin Roosevelt in Kansas 1977 (oddly, 22 years after his death), Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, the bible, and even Winston Churchill. My roommate Mike Olsen found it possibly first in print in a 1946 article in “California Folklore Quarterly” listed as “a proverb of the American West”.
No matter who said it first, I will always see it in my mind hanging as a small painted wooden sign in my mother’s kitchen. It reminds me to never give up, accept that sometimes life gets rough and when it does, tie a knot, hang on, gather up strength and sum up the courage to once again begin climbing in the direction of your dreams!
Remember to give your mom a big hug this Mother’s Day.
Please contact me if you have an office or organization in your area that would like an anthropologist / Vegas Mentalist to present a clean corporate show, or come and lead workshops on communication, motivation and change management!
God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them.
Thank you for being my friend.
“The Coffee Pot Chief”
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas WorthSpreading. It started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people fromthree worlds: Technology, Entertainment, & Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TEDConference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, as well as the annual TED Prize.
Here is the link to my most recent TEDx talk entitled “The Coffee Pot Chief“
My next TEDx will be next month on June 23rd.
The 48 Hour Film Project
The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, edit and score it—in just 48 hours.
On Friday night, you get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, all to include in your movie. 48 hours later, the movie must be complete. Then it will show at a local theater on the big screen within the week.
In 2011, nearly 60,000 filmmakers made 4,000 films in 96 cities on 6 continents.
For your 4 minutes of viewing pleasure, this years submission from my team:
You can also catch some of my past years projects here: