An odd group, certainly. The worst men make ritual disembowelment seem like the only sensible thing to do, while the best men…well the best men inspire us to become better men.
Like hitch hikers just dropped at a truck stop, we look around and evaluate the passing scene. Too often we are surrounded by mediocre men.
As constant evaluators, we sometimes forget to report our findings. This is undesirable and unproductive. We can forge a better life through regular highlighting of qualities the best men put into practice.
To begin, they are flawed. More to the point, they recognize they are flawed, and they do not hide it.
Next, they possess a humility that my own awesomeness seems unlikely to ever achieve.
They are genuine, or perhaps authentic works better. You cannot catch them off guard. They are who they are, no apologies, and who they are is worth noting.
They are well-read. Life has seasons, of that there is no doubt. But these men and television divorced a long time ago.
Lastly, for today, they are ready and willing to help, if we’ll only just ask. By help, we mean nothing more than them choosing to spend their limited time on us.
Let us not forget, then, that even great men need encouragement. Let us not forget that these men still exist in this world, feel its pressures, and are pulled daily by the temptation to give up. Let us not forget to say thank you when their life enhances ours.
David: Thank you.
“Now that we know who is doing what, it’s time for the prepared speeches portion of the meeting. Each of our speakers today has prepared what I’m sure will be marvelous speeches. First up, giving her ‘Ice Breaker’ speech, is Debbie Hinkletoe. She has spoken many times in the past, but this is her first speech with us. It appears we are making her feel as nervous as Anne Frank practicing tuba, so let’s be sure to give her all the support we can muster,” joked the old man lovingly attempting ease Debbie’s visible nerves.
It was unclear whether the old man knew that the joke would, to put it mildly, step on a few toes. The few audience members cursed with the inability to resist a joke’s cue-to-laugh recognized their loneliness and quickly adopted silence.
Concluding the awkward moment, a respectable old woman declared, “Not funny.”
“Okay, meetings over. Thanks for nothing, you inconsiderate asshole!” seemed the words the audience expected to hear next. However, following General Waverly’s (White Christmas) advice, “If there’s one thing the army taught me, it was to be positive… …especially when you don’t know what you’re talking about,” the old man made the correct decision to let the moment pass and continue the meeting.
He couldn’t help but smile. He just witnessed an event only found in books: An old man putting to use his well-deserved ability to “not care”, and an old woman responding in kind. Oh, the subtleties of that moment. As if the back-and-forth had caused the air to congeal, a stillness overtook the room for but an instant. Neither mortal would yield. Neither should have. They both behaved perfectly. They both…were grandparents.
He always liked “grandparents” as a group, but he was never quite able to put his finger on why; until that exact moment.
But first, while it may seem obvious, the reader must learn what he believed a grandparent to be. A grandparent is not simply someone whose children have had children. By his thinking, to be a grandparent, one’s children must be (or have) raising their own children. Biological grandparents fulfilling the role of primary parent are not grandparents to him, then. This is a necessary qualification.
It seemed to him that something magical happened when an old person was fully released from parental responsibilities. The concern for ‘appropriate’ and ‘proper’ disappeared, rightfully so. Grandparents, then, were the living proof that even the loftiest concepts needed to be knocked off their pedestals every now and again. It was the exchange between these grandparents that revealed this truth clearly.
This realization had a second effect. It motivated him, for he was a parent. Moreover, he now understood that to earn his status as grandparent he must aggressively embrace his parental responsibility. Any wasted time or opportunity would only result in his missing out on the ability to someday be the salt of life, would result in his missing out on the near-sanctified duty to offend, provoke, insult, but also spoil, entertain, love.
More than that, he finally understood why, no matter what they did, he always felt loved by his own grandparents. It was because they wouldn’t be his grandparents if his parents hadn’t loved him first.
It turns out James Hetfield with his rhythm guitar, not Lars Ulrich with his drums, is really the one who keeps Metallica in time. Okay, truthfully this is probably debatable. Nonetheless, there is an opportunity for a great metaphor here. Who among us would dispute music’s inherent power?
Aside from what some noble, lofty lyrics of poets and dreamers say about finding music in nature and what not, in order to create music someone must keep time. If no one is keeping time, no amount of effort can transform noise into one of humanity’s most powerful expressions of itself. Music.
What about life? Cannot life itself be interpreted in a similar manner? In the end, noise and music are probably not perfectly distinct. There is likely a continuum with one end being noise; the other being music. What would it hurt to place human potential along a similar continuum? One end being not reaching potential, possibly not even seeing the potential; the other being maximum potential realization.
And if somewhere on the noise to music continuum there appears a time keeper, would not the human-potential continuum also need a time keeper? Need people who actively prescribe the standard of measure? Not some ultimate quality control dictating to all whether the music is good or not, no. These people would simply be keeping time. Might these human-potential metronomes even borrow similar tactics from mechanical metronomes and repeat themselves steadily with regularity? Asking, “How are you today?” (Click) “How’s your goal coming along?” (Click) “What’s the next step?” (Click) “I care about you reaching your potential and am here to help in any way you think I can.” (Click)
And just like the wind-up metronomes, might even these human-potential metronomes occasionally need to be re-energized every once in a while? Remember then, it is the same fingers that make the music which are the ones that have to take a break to reset the metronome. Wouldn’t it be the same people busily reaching their potential that need to take a break and reset these human-potential time keepers? Notice even that winding up a metronome still requires purposeful effort.
Thank you Cherry Creek Toastmasters.
Yes. We need time keepers.