Saturday, 23 June 2018

Don't Miss the Forest for the Trees

The Desiderata goes on to say:

"But let not  this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism."

As a refresher, the previous line had been focused on being mindful of all the "trickery" in the world. It is advisable then, to remember that there are those that hold themselves, their work and how they carry themselves in the world, to very high standards. This then suggests that though discernment and due diligence is prudent, one ought not "judge a book by its cover;" or lose faith and become dispirited; there are indeed, those that value integrity.

A couple of recent examples come to mind from my life. I was walking with a gentlemen on the rehab floor I work on the other evening. I don't recall what the conversation had been. I happen to have an affinity for tattoos, (having them on both arms and legs)... he's assessment of that at one point in the conversation was, "look at all those tattoos, you ain't no choir boy."

Now for an instant, I felt the sting of his judgement, but it didn't at all take me from centre. I laughed and replied - "true enough, although, as a matter of fact, I have sung in a few different choirs."

Determined to make his point, he answered, "it still doesn't make you a choir boy." From there we talked about being in choirs; as he had sung in some as well.

My point is, this guy doesn't know me from Adam; yet because of my tattoos, he was quick to pigeon-hole me and my character a certain way. Meanwhile, I'm the guy that's walking his ass, around the rehab floor so he can get stronger.

The other scenario involves a pen I ordered online. I should mention that at times, I get frustrated and a little disheartened, at the junk that is produced and made available through retail sources. It certainly doesn't always ring true that "you get what you pay for." Higher ticket price items don't always have any greater longevity, than the lesser priced items.

Anyway back to this pen. It was made of "bog oak" from Ireland. Both Ireland and oak are personally significant to me. I have a long standing and ever changing relationship with both. So I received the pen. It was a little shorter than I expected but still, I was satisfied with the quality etc. It was when I began to try and find refill cartridges for it, that the frustration set in. Because of it's short stature, standard size refills do not fit. I was in contact with the fellow that was marketing the pen a few different times, trying to determine the cartridge type. I took the pen to local stationary supply stores; nobody carried one that size. He sent me model numbers of what he believed the refill to be, I ordered two different lots of them, from two different online sources. When they arrived they both were too long for this pen.

I wrote back to him again and outlined my experience and expressed my frustration. He apologized and committed to making me a new pen! I had become resigned to this pen being useless once it ran out of ink. I hadn't purchased it with the idea of it becoming redundant. I was pleasantly surprised that this fellow was standing behind his product. He asked me to send the measurements of this pen - I'm guessing, so he can go about creating a replacement, that is long enough to use the standard size refills.

The experience reminded me that there are indeed those that strive for excellence and the value of speaking up and not giving up. It is quite okay to ask for what you want. It doesn't always mean you'll get it, but it doesn't hurt sometimes to "invite" others to embrace the excellence of their potential.

As far as the heroism reference in the last line goes, there are those that are performing heroic acts all day, every day.  My suggestion here is that if one expands their idea of what constitutes "a hero," they will discover they exist right in their midst; in their neighbourhood, at their work place, or classroom on their city streets. Our culture is quick to hoist sports figures and entertainers to the status of heroism; and turns a blind eye, to the myriad of unsung heroes, right under their noses (perhaps even including themselves).

Heroism and virtue are not always found in the most visible and ostentatious of people. Sometimes those quietly going about their day without a want or need to draw attention to themselves, are, moving mountains.

R. O'Neill (June 23, 2018)

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