Harlan Sanders died in 1980 at the age of 90. Were he alive today, he’d be 123 years old. I never knew much about The Colonel’s life, except that he invented the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken; and, that “KFC” is now a ubiquitous fast-food presence.
That’s why I wanted to stop in Corbin, Kentucky a couple days ago on my drive back from my family Christmas visit to Ohio. Corbin was where The Colonel was living and running a service station at the time he perfected his now-famous chicken breading recipe of 11 herbs and spices and, according to the information at The Sanders Café, a whole lot of MSG as well.
Harlan’s father died when he was 6, leaving him the “head” of the household and thereby responsible for his mother and siblings. A sixth-grade dropout, he held a variety of jobs, including farmhand, army-mule tender, locomotive fireman and “amateur” obstetrician, among others.
At the age of 65, after having lost his restaurant business to an interstate which diverted travelers away and, with only $120 in his pocket, Harlan Sanders hit the road with his custom chicken breading. He shared a handshake deal with restaurant owners nationwide: for each chicken sold, Sanders received 5 cents in royalties. This is how Sanders built his brand, long before the advent of social media. Over almost 10 years of traveling 250,000 miles a year, Sanders had amassed 600 franchises.
In 1964, a group of investors bought him out for $2 million, a whole heck of a lot of money at that time.
So, if Old Man Sanders could hit the road at age 65 and start his whole life over from (chicken) scratch, why shouldn’t we? What if we stopped making excuses and walked along with our fears and just started making things happen?
I’d like to share with you some of my plans for 2014: I’m going to expand my expertise of modern technology, which, by the way, I did this morning in order to write this post. As the owner of a brand-new IPhone 5S who barely knows how to use it, I decided that I’m tired of the smug looks on the faces of people who offer to “show” me how to perform a function, while snatching the phone out of my hands to say, demonstrate how to turn the ringer on or off. I’ll be at IPhone class next Wednesday afternoon.
I’m going to finish my memoir, which I started three years ago. It’s filled with beautiful, funny, poignant, sad and sometimes, harrowing stories of the first 14 years of my life. Then, I’m going to find a publisher. Then, I’m going to ask you to buy a copy of my book.
I’ll be mounting an E-Book of spiritual tenets and practices that I’ve had to gather over the years as a result of those above-mentioned stories. Then, I’m going to ask you to buy a copy of that book.
I’m throwing my hat into the acting ring. Atlanta is now a strong secondary market, right after L.A. One might say that I’ve been preparing for this all my life.
These are my intentions. I will do my part to the best of my ability to make it all happen. I will do my work. I will finish my work. Will I be successful? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I need to show up, do my part, do my work and then, surrender the results. After that, I’ll either get what I’ve intended or the Universe will re-direct me to something better or more suitable.
This is true for me. And, this is true for you, too.
I am reminded of my favorite movie of all time: “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. There’s a scene where RP McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) finds himself gambling at cards with his fellow psychiatric patients in the oversized, tiled shower room.
McMurphy takes bets as to whether or not he can dislodge the mounted- to-the-floor, industrial sprayer (which probably weighs at least 200 pounds), walk it over to the institution’s barred window and then, toss it through both the bars and the window.
Bets taken, McMurphy takes his place at the four-foot-high. cemented-to-the-floor block and wraps his arms around it, as if he can hug it into submission. He huffs and puffs like a madman, his face reddens like he’s about to explode, yet he keeps on. He stops one second to take in a quick breath, then he goes back in.
Realizing that he would have to be Hercules to win this bet, McMurphy starts to skulk out of the shower room. Disgusted, he glares at his impotent wardmates and says, “But at least I tried, goddammit. At least I did that.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR.