Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birthday wish for a young friend

This is my response to a very kind friend who wrote offering condolence on the loss of my camera. It is his 25th birthday! I hope I've learned a few things along life's journey, and that they can be of some use to others. "Stony the road we trod" as the hymn says, but we help one another along it.

My Friend,

Thank You for your very kind message. I will follow your advice and may seek your coaching along the way. The face book page will have to await a new camera- I am way overdue for a self portrait- the last was done in 2006.

Regarding the camera. Fortunately for me a camera is both more easily replaced and far less "animate" than a viola!  I appreciate your sympathy and accept your hug with the hope you will translate it from a virtual to a physical one at our next meeting!

Do I remember correctly that this is your 25th birthday? On or about, in any case. I think, if you will allow me, that I will reflect on the camera incident in the context of my life. Perhaps these thoughts will be of some use to you as you proceed on your journey through the 35 years that separate us.

I often liken life to a great long hallway that we walk with ourselves. I have always had the company of the thing I refer to as "My Friend" which has been a great help to me. It is a very interesting place to walk, like an Elizabethan Gallery; different windows and carpets and furniture, pictures, even clocks! Some parts are rather bright, others dark, some warm and comfortable others hard and cold- you know this already. To continue the metaphor, there are also warrens of interconnected rooms off to the side. For me the test of how I'm getting along is always whether I can look back over my shoulder and see the door I came in by, what ever the intervening changes might be.

Those rooms on the side are fearful places where people who are afraid to look back choose to go. They are a maze, and getting out of them can be difficult, sometimes impossible. I have lost many friends and even a partner in them.

The doors into that place are the doors of irresponsibility. This will bring us back to the camera. I left the camera in a place where it wasn't supervised. I was stupid to do it, and now I have to accept that responsibility and move on. The funny thing is that there is great peace in accepting that truth, and being able to do so is a hard but worthwhile thing to do. 

The partner I referred to above used to disagree with me vehemently about how a "professional" deals with his own mistakes. It has always been my practice to examine my work as closely as I can, and when I find a mistake I call my client and alert him, and I am very explicit about the correction. My partner was insistent that this amounted to a loss of face. I often lost a good deal of money by this policy, but gained enormous respect, and loyalty, and even material assistance from my clients when fortune turned against me. In fact two of them have already come forward to assist with a new camera. I tell you this because there are many forces in business and society that will try to persuade you into actions that compromise yourself, but I say that the rewards of being true, though long term, and perhaps not remunerative are of greater value than any compromise. When I was 25 I would have received such advice with a  chuckle, I was very strong in myself, and very clear in my honor and my standards. I still am, I'm happy to report, but what a stormy crossing the intervening years have been!

You are like a very bright star in your life right now, and your brightness will bring warmth and pleasure to those around you, but I fear it will also attract some who will feel exposed by it, and try to dim, or extinguish your brightness. They do that by waylaying you into those rooms I spoke about. Their agenda is often to criticize, demean, teach you that your values are unsophisticated or unproductive, your interests inconvenient; in your case your multiplicity of interests indicative of a lack of focus, your sincerity a sign of a lack of sophistication; it gets worse. In short they try to make you like themselves. They are very clever especially when sex and affection are involved. That is a test as arduous as any knight in a medieval romance faced. In fact it is the test they faced.

Sleep's Angel

Sleep once was mine to dispose
Upon my nights at will and need;
Then was stolen my sweet repose
By cleaver thieves I did not heed;
Who came in loving guise,
Foreswearing faith and telling lies.
They left me only wakefulness
And night no longer gave me rest.

Sleep’s Angel then rest’s ransom named:
That I withdraw from loves reckless race!
Resign to plod the level heartless sod
Of a safer life without another’s face. 

Now day and night pace out anxious sleep,
And my living heart rests in slumber deep. 

I encourage you to take a very detailed inventory of your personal qualities right now. That will take a long time because they are very many. Watch the faces of the people around you for the signs of joy your presence brings them, look at the products of all your efforts, another lengthy list, and fix all that very firmly in your mind. It is a worthy armor to face your journey with. I can tell you that if you get to the end of it with that inventory intact you will be able to face whatever comes with peace and happiness.

I hope I am not presuming to much in offering all this on your birthday. I wish you well on life's journey and will always be available to you should you need someone to remind you of your goodness

No comments: