Faith, humility and growing up
Sunday, November 24, 2019
I contemplated what message to bring in the weekly message featurette and thought about a few different news headlines and mentions from Frozen to Mr. Rogers and even an episode of Andy Griffith. In these fictional shows we see the power of believing in something even when odds are stacked against your favor or situations which are not ideal.
In this American sitcom, the Andy Griffith episode entitled “Mr. McBeevee”, is basically according to IMDB, a “parable about reason and faith” and strikes a “balance” of growing up, make-believe and reason and rationale. If you’ve ever seen the episode, it stars Opie Taylor who was played by Ron Howard and Andy Griffith who plays Andy Taylor who portrays Opie’s father. Opie befriends a inspiring and somewhat odd person while wandering through the woods one day and excitedly tells his father and family without reservations as he is awed by him. His descriptions border on the fantastic as his friend “walks in the treetops” and can “blow smoke from his ears” and his family is happy to indulge and humor him thinking he is just having some childhood fun and has a good creative imagination. But as this goes on for a while, Opie starts bringing gifts back home including an “Indian hatchet” which he cannot and is not allowed keep as his his father starts to suspect he’s taking things and using his imagination to make excuses. As the viewers of the show, we can see his friend indeed is a real physical person but due to this twist of dramatic irony the others don’t believe him. Andy has to figure out if he should punish his son Opie or not if he (Opie) relinquishes and renounces Mr. McBeevee’s existence. This story kind of reminds me of some of those Miracle on 34th street stories and Christmas movies as it involves faith and belief.
Listening to an NPR interview this past week I also came across movie review on “Frozen 2” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”. We hear about growing up and impermanence in Disney’s princess movie and moving on from the original as time has passed. And also we see in the other movie more dealing with adult subjects in the Mister Roger’s biopic such as with death, anger and grief which were often subjects that were avoided with children such as pain and the real world.
There is often a few as parents of what things and subjects to breach with our young children and also some of our friends also as we get older as well. We are hesitant to deal with things like sex education, divorce, mental illness, the passing of one’s parents or grandparents or pets, or even prejudice. We would like to sometimes bottle up our children and keep them in their ignorant bliss forever but we can’t do that because that would be a disservice to ourselves and then also to them.
They say spare the rod and spoil the child, but that doesn’t mean either that we encourage corporal punishment as it has been shown that proper discipline and discussion with a kid about consequences out of understanding and not necessarily fear and punishment can help them as adults. Kids look up to us and emulate us grownups. There’s a lot of things that are nonverbal cues and words that latch on to. As one parent said one night to the other, “they hear us even when we don’t think they’re listening”. Kids don’t always get the benefit of the doubt of being bright enough to figure complex problems out but they understand more than we give them credit for and also nonverbal cues. They understand things we don’t say and don’t do just as much as the things that we say and actually do act upon. There’s an Aesop’s fable where a child is mean and the mom doesn’t scold him until one day he is old and he is jailed and asks to see his mother and spits at her or something mean or ferocious. And the villagers are aghast, and he retorts that “You all think I’m a monster, but this woman never disciplined or stopped me when I am young and now look at where my life has lead.”
As people, parents, leaders in our community we often like to embrace the rebel spirit and we do need that in entrepreneurism and many industries. Some countries like the U.S. and sister in spirit France were founded on rebellion and the rebel spirit. And many countries have had civil wars as well in order to found their countries on ideals. Even now in this world were there is unrest in Asian countries, and parts of the Middle East and other countries due to freedoms and financial unrest we have to be able to explain to our family, our kids and our future why we have taken the steps we have taken and why we’re raising them the way we are.
We are all vulnerable as a species and as Steve Jobs has said, we are already naked when we came into this world. We don’t choose who we get to have as our parents. We don’t get to choose who we have as our brothers or sisters when we first come into this world and a lot of us are either born into wealth and poverty. We don’t get to choose the day we are born or what sign we’re under or the month or the year. And most times we don’t get to choose when we die or who we will fall in love with and connect with. Believe it or not, many things in life are purely by chance although we can guide our paths toward what we want. And we certainly don’t get to pick our early teachers or when we get sick or even our enemies. There’s an old saying: If I want to hear laughter I tell heaven my plans.
But often that’s all we as humans can do is also work as hard as we can, believe as Steve Jobs said that all the dots will connect and that we are headed toward the right path in life and that the stars will align. We aren’t saying that life is all faith as that is entirely foolish to sit and pray for loaves of bread to fall out of the sky, just as much as it is to believe you have total control over every aspect of your future. Just as you can’t predict that car would sweve into your lane, or that your child might be born with autism, or that you would buy that pack of bottled water but one bottle had been leaking and you didn’t find out till you got all the way home. There’s things in life that you can never completely or will ever completely be able to control or account for. But all you can do is learn from the experience, chalk it up to something to add to your experience, understand what happened and control how you will react to the situation. Things don’t always go your way after all best efforts nor should they necessarily should or be expected to.
All we can do is have faith in the process and that most things will work out as best as they can. Just like running a company or building a product and trying to get feedback. Sometimes you will win some. Some times you will lose some. “Fifty- fifty” as George Carlin says. Just like some of your stocks or investment or crypto may go down (incidentally the big crypto currency coins have dropped another couple hundred this week). No one can predict the future. No one knows if your employee you hire will be around forever.
Or perhaps you were considered the black sheep of the family and least to succeed and your sibling was the valedictorian and did stellar in school while you ended up at a middle income job, but your sibling ended up having a nervous break down years later and had to be medicated. No one knows what the world has in store for us.
When we’re in our teens and high school we think the world is our oyster and we’re going to go to college or the military and change the world and hit the ground running and then we all move away from parents or most of us have kids and then years later we look back at year books and are a bit older with aches or pains or belly guts. And the beautiful world promised and we saw with rose colored glasses, we can now see the dust specs, the small scratches and little stains.
Perhaps the way we shield our kids and siblings and friends sometimes from the reality is to try to allow them wind in their sails and have no limitations. But everyone needs a friend to bring them back to reality and see what is right before their eyes.
Whether you’re running a business or have a partner or spouse, or a friend, you need to find someone that shares many of your dreams and goals, but isn’t like a think tank with all of the same thoughts and opinions. Sometimes you have to have contrast so you don’t have “yes men” that simply agrees to every proposal and give no criticism as your company ship goes down. This reminds me of the “This is Fine” dog meme surrounded by fire.
We millennials are getting older. We grew up with the ideals of supermen and fans of the comic books, and all the various movie world merchandise and are now learning to pay bills and rent, feed our children, and taking care of running a home. We never really gave up all our ideals, but now we understand Robin Williams and his portrayal of Peter Pan in the movie Hook.
We’ve lived though the ’90’s and the dot com boom and bust, the housing bubbles, and various stock market crashes and bailouts. And as said in a several news articles from CBS to Washington Post etc, more millennials are living at home, trying to save some money. Some have been able to strike it richer than others due to rare opportunities. And some are disillusioned or just trying to make some money and live paycheck to pay check.
The genie is out of the bottle now and we will never go back to the same way we used to be. We can’t go back to living in our old childhood bedrooms and safety and security we had before. One day our parents will no longer be there to take care of us and we have to start planning our own retirements. We have to think about burial and cremation services for our elders. We have to think about how to take care of finance and medical or court costs for an ailing relative our how to apply for food stamps or buy milk and get the proper nutrition for our kids.
Many of us have had it good and not had to deal with the wars of our elders luckily and the “OK boomer” disconnect and divide is just that we have more information from the internet now and more transparency in this digital era. Whereas all the prejudice, social injustice, blatant manipulations were hidden, we now have possibly too much information, too much social media and the “Ed TV” scenario where everyone is now trying to be a blogger, influence, YouTuber and social media expert or sell on Facebook. It is getting a bit harder every day to differentiate yourself if you aren’t out there learning, hustling and being better. It might already be too late.
There’s a certain nostalgia to Mr. Rogers and the older times. Although that could be said of any era whether it be of 50’s to 60’s black and white Mayberry or even the blatantly prejudicial hard headed patriarch from “All in the Family”. But we know better and can’t move backwards and have to accept that times change, we get older, technology is accelerating everything. Alexas, digital cameras and Fitbits, and Netflix are all in our lexicon just as much as quadcopter drones, the Googlization and Facebooking and Internet of everything is here. Privacy and some of the youthful innocence and bliss is gone in a post orange alert world.
One thing that never changes though, is our will to evolve, change, survive. We humans will still need our creature comforts and desire to connect and not be alone no matter how much money and rich we are. No matter how poor we are or what clothes, or how much politics is debated upon or what country’s war or media story is pushed we are just people, living day to day. As Trevor Noah said in his episode of Hot Ones, we all are the same at the end of the day in the bathroom. We all are alone and equal in front of the mirror and we have to eat and excrete and deal with our makers and decisions at the end of the day. Good decisions or bad, forgiven or not we are making our destiny and our own bed. Life and death is the great equalize and humbling. Some make it through life maybe a bit easier or better than others. But at the end we all go to the same place. The light switch goes off and game over. It doesn’t matter how much money you make or what kind of name you make for yourself, if you barely survive you’re not going to live the life you need.
You don’t need to feel shame or like a failure if you’re like many other millennials that may have had to move back home or regroup. Take the time to learn the things you need, read the things you need, educate yourself, explore and push yourself out of your shell so you can evolve into what you are destined to become and live the life you want and reach your full potential. That may mean some difficulty and discomfort, and even some minor pain now, but it’s what we millennials haven’t had a lot of experience with in some cases. And if that means going somewhere we’ve not gone, the path less travelled by, the Disney princess embarking on a quest, or dealing with pain and discomfort head on, it’s something we need to do. We can’t be sheltered, believe in “Make-believe” all our lives and “eat at Wendy’s all our lives” as George Carlin put it.
Time to take a little risk and grow-up. Have faith that your journey will be a successful one. Do not “dwell on dreams and forget to live”. Don’t let fear of the shipwreck at sea allow your boat to rot in the harbor… as the princess might be in another castle, or frog prince.
We all have to grow up some day.