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What to do when you're 5% charged

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

It was the day before New Year's at our house and time for an energy inventory. We didn't get very far. A check of Eartha's cell phone showed "5 percent charged." Whoa. We went no further. What a scary prospect — starting a new year with a phone that could suddenly go silent at any moment. Without notice.

We scrambled to find a charger. They're usually missing when you need them most, you know. But there it was, so it was plugged in, and the phone was re-energized without further panic. How convenient for our phones, our computers, our electric cars and cordless razors and electric lawn mowers and all other electronic gadgets, we just plug them in and get the energy that's available at every outlet. It's almost miraculous.

The energy inventory then switched to part two — human energy. I didn't announce it, but I had a feeling my own energy was about "5 percent charged." I'm not sure whether it's fortunate or unfortunate that we don't have little gauges that register or print out our personal energy levels. Would they be more helpful or more embarrassing?

Well we can't start a new year with a 5 percent energy level, can we? And we can't just plug in, can we? And just saying, "I need more energy" doesn't create more energy does it? Where do we get that other 95 percent − or at least 50 percent?

Some of the experts claim that each of us is the average of the five people we most associate with. That should be scary for my friends. That applies to home life, family, physical, emotional, psychological, and financial factors. So, we are all encouraged to surround ourselves with positive, supportive acquaintances. To be more focused, some suggest that we need to change our aim to seek out those who have the characteristics we are most short of.

Like energy. So, if I'm sitting here with a low battery and a 5 percent energy level, I'd better be looking for some high energy acquaintances. Does this mean I drop the acquaintances I already have? That won't be necessary — they've already dropped me. They're searching for more energy, too.

Where am I going to find these high energy people? I'm remembering a line from an old family show on TV (OK, it was the Cosby Show, though I hesitate to quote Cosby these days). Cosby's 16-year-old son, Theo, announced he was searching to "find himself." Cosby answered, "then why don't you look in front of the TV — that's where I usually find you."

That's a clue to me that I won't find any high energy people in front of the TV. Where then? I won't find them in a tavern, unless they're organizing a benefit affair for some friend or family going through a hard time like a fire or a serious health problem.

I suspect the high energy people are all doing something. They walk faster for one thing. Just watch and see.They're working hard at their jobs, going to council or committee meetings, painting or remodeling, making furniture, directing or playing in a band, raising money for scholarships, volunteering at the library, food shelf, soup line or crisis center, coaching kids teams, visiting the sick or elderly, planning church or community events — or, in almost every case, doing something for somebody else.

Human energy, unlike electricity, doesn't come from sockets in the wall. It comes from high energy human sources we can plug into. And we can plug into them without being organizers or leaders, we can plug in by grabbing the nearest worthwhile project in need of a push — and offering to help push.

Order Lynn Hummel's new book, The Last Word (171 articles, 310 pages) by sending $15 plus $3 postage ($10 plus postage for additional books) to Pony Express Books, 1948 Long Bridge Road, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or order at: