HAMILTON: We’d do well by listening to ourselves

Ken Hamilton

We’d do well by listening to ourselves. Here are the stories of two people that passed through my life that reminds of such; of even my own words. 

It has been years since I have heard from Blake Dye — and, yes, and that is his real name. He was a dark-skinned and rather portly fellow, a bit taller than me and reminded me of my brother Frankie, who died as a result of an automobile accident near Kingman Arizona, back in the mid-1970s. 

If memory serves, the last that I knew of Blake was that he was out in Portland, Oregon, but I knew him from when he was studying for his masters at Niagara University and was an intern of mine, of sorts, when I had the Voices of the People radio show on WJJL-1440 AM back in the mid-1990s.

Like a lot of large men, Blake didn’t like being so overweight – after all, who really does? I was somewhat portly myself back then, pushing 180-somewhat muscular pounds (much more now, but with less muscle). But Blake, nonetheless, came to me and asked me how to lose weight.

I had challenges with weight lose myself, having once been athletic and playing high school football and wrestling, lifting weights, and while on shore in the Navy, running 3 to 4 miles a day. But while out to sea and taking laps around the ship I would average about 18-miles a day – if you added in how far the ship traveled while I was running.

It was well that Blake asked me the question of how to lose weight. A lot of times we know a lot of things, not necessarily by actually accomplishing those things, but going by what we have heard or read or saw someone else do. I had heard that too often we try to do ‘one big thing’ instead of a series of small things, and I had advised the 250-pound young man to stop trying to lose it all at once; instead, I asked him that if he simply lost 2 or 3 pounds a month, how much would he have lost in a year?

Blake did the math in his head and said 24-36 pounds. “And if you continued,” I asked, “how much would you have lost in two years?” His answer was the 72-pounds that he needed to lose. 

Blake left Niagara, but returned a few years later, approached me, a lighter person than when he left, and said hello. I spoke to him, as I would anyone; but I didn’t have a clue as to who he was. When he told me his name, I was amazed and asked him how he had lost all of that weight. He smiled and said, “I took your advice!” We’d do well by listening to ourselves. 

Sometime after my divorce in the early '90s, I decided to give a permanent relationship another try; so I signed up for E-Harmony and there was a list of compatible women that was longer than the varieties at both Baskin-Robins and Dee-Dee's Ice Cream put together. I chose a woman who lived in Baltimore named Norine. I would drive out there from time to time and she would come to Niagara Falls. E-Harmony does indeed find mates that are very similar to our own interests, but given my separation anxiety of losing my mom at such a young age and the pain of the divorce, I had a hard time committing to a relationship. But Norine and I remained friends; and one day she said to me that she wanted to go back to school and finish her bachelor’s degree, but being a working mother in her mid-40s, she was overly-concerned about her age, saying, “But if I go back to school to get my degree, I wouldn’t get it until I would be in my 50s.”

I said to Norine, “And if you don’t go back to school to get your degree, you’ll still be in your fifties!” 

She called me this week and joyfully told me all about her graduation ceremony for her bachelor’s degree. She told me of what her daughter proudly wrote concerning her mother’s accomplishment, crediting my words – or more accurately, a conversation that I had heard from a speaker at an Amway rally in Charlotte, North Carolina back in the 1980s, when a woman, much older than Norine, had said that same thing to the speaker. Her friend wanted to go back to school as well, but was concerned about being in her 80s when getting her degree. She listened. 

We’d do well by listening to ourselves; and in my case, to my now-deceased friend Joan Wolfgang. So I called Niagara University to ask what I must do to finish my own bachelor’s degree – and I am trying to find Blake Dye’s telephone number as well! Maybe I’ll listen to him?


Contact Ken Hamilton at kenhamilton930@aol.com