Tuesday, November 15, 2005

End of the Walk

The story of Tucker Carlson and the demise of the bow ties was a set up story. I really wanted to talk about something that was on my mind for which the bow tie story sets the stage.

I should apologize to Mr. Carlson first. He has never done anything to offend me, he just happens to wear bow ties.

The idea that people, even his wife, will not know who he is allows me to segue into a more serious discussion of external v. internal factors in our lives

The life represented by Tucker is one that creates a bond between his external appearance and his definition of self. I know I am often guilty of this. The obvious examples for so many of us are the new car, the dream home, the vacations and the social rankings that go with it.

Some philosophical types go off on ranting benders about the need to abandon all material things and the spiritual requirement to go sit on a mountaintop alone.

That’s all very romantic and/or spiritual, but most mountaintops can be become quite cold and windy and Starbucks isn’t there. Not yet anyway. Give them time.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think clearly about my internal values without coffee.

I was walking down a sidewalk in my neighborhood yesterday and I remembered a long ago talk I had with a young baseball student. It was a discussion that occurred as a result of the young man’s mother asking me to talk to him about what she felt were some inappropriate things in his life.

I did this dutifully only to find out later that the mom was not particularly happy about my candor in the discussion with her son. The problem was that I had once been a 16 year old boy and fully understood her son’s behavior and feelings. Quite frankly, mom was clueless; she just wanted her way in the boy’s life.

The discussion was wide ranging but the central theme I gave him was that he should imagine a sidewalk that took him to wherever it was he desired to go in life. I asked him to imagine that the distractions off the sidewalk, whatever they might be, were sometimes suitable to go visit and experience, but that ultimately he had to return to the sidewalk if he wanted to get where he was going. If he could bring these distraction to his sidewalk that was alright, but returning to the sidewalk was very important. I also asked him to imagine a distraction that took him so far off the sidewalk that he could no longer find his way back.

I went on to tell him that his imaginary sidewalk represented the interior beliefs that formed his understanding of who he is. The sidewalk represented truth, honor, love, respect, a faith in a power larger than him and I even threw in the Golden Rule for a dash of dramatic effect.

Many times things take us away from our core beliefs. The distractions might even be as tempting as the lovely 18 year old female distraction was to my young 16 year old ballplayer. I thought him quite a fortunate young man, but well that’s another blog for another day.

I wanted him to understand that there would always be distractions, for any of us, but if he stayed close enough to his sidewalk he could always find his way home.

This is similar to the idea that if we venture into the wilderness it would be far better to have a compass than all of the fancy hiking clothes money can buy.

The reason is obvious. The compass represents your inner belief system that is distinct and separate from the items external to who we actually are. It is the way we guide ourselves through life, staying on course and defining who we are, even without a bow tie.

After coffee I continue to think on all of this. I’m not certain any of us really need a vow of poverty or that we need to go sit on a mountain. As a matter of fact I believe in some way that it might even be a negative behavior. It is inaction without a balancing and culturally contributory action. It just might be too far off the sidewalk, or a first cousin to walking into the wilderness without a compass.

As 16 year olds will do, my ballplayer asked me a smart ass question. I should add that he asked with an accepting grin on his face, he wasn’t being surly, just having fun with me. He asked, “What happens when the sidewalk ends?”



















I told him the sidewalk would end only when he had become the sidewalk.

He didn’t understand that part of it on that day. In time he will.

Gotta go. I’m off to look at new watches and cars!

Working on Getting It…….maybe.

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