Choose Your Moment

When my kids are talking among themselves and making each other laugh, it is a musical sound for me. To know they get along so well, enjoy each other’s company so much, are there for each other through anything–it really validates all the years of work when their mother and I were hammering out the childhood kinks and fashioning them into people. I love those moments.

I love arriving at work in the wee hours of the morning before anyone else, and pouring a cup of coffee, reviewing the day’s agenda, and deciding how to attack the tasks before me. It makes me feel like I am contributing something–not only to the company–but to the public that uses our facilities, products and public lands. Martin Luther King once said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” I like that thought. It generates a sense of purpose.

Perfectly Eloquent

Celestial Navigation, a recording/performance group, reads poetry and stories along with the music. Some of it is quite moving. I like a selection called “The Back Porch.” In it, a woman asks her husband, “What’s the most pleasurable moment you’ve ever had?” He thinks of everything from the first time his brother smiled after returning home from Vietnam to closing a deal for five times what he expected to make on it. But, as he contemplates it all, he finally turns to her and says, “Of all the pleasurable moments I’ve had, I have to say that the best one was the next one.” Lord, I dream of one day saying one sentence with that much clarity and perfection. Just perfect.

Oh, The Choices

Recently, the local radio station noted the results of a poll asking men what they would choose as a career if they were guaranteed success. The top answer was overwhelmingly (almost half of all respondents) “professional athlete,” followed closely by “film actor” and, of course, embarrassingly for my knuckle-dragging brethren, “porn star.” Those were the new categories (all short-term careers with lots of fame and adulation) that replaced responses from a 1960s survey: president, astronaut and doctor (with an emphasis on accomplishing something for the greater good). Are we, as a nation, reaping what we’ve sown? What do you think would be the favorite/precious moments for a nation that has come to find momentary popularity and pleasure to be the brass ring of a quality life? Chugging a 6-pack at the dorm faster than anyone? Accumulating a vast number of bedroom partners before getting married? Knocking some guy out with one punch?

It isn’t what we’ve come to be, but what we have come to allow and therefore expect. And that is, in a word, the least: the most fame with the least effort, the biggest check with the least amount of work, like a lottery win or a large insurance payoff. There is nothing that includes integrity.

When The Elements Align

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