“Hug and kiss whoever helped get you – financially, mentally, morally, emotionally – to this day. Parents, mentors, friends, teachers. If you’re too uptight to do that, at least do the old handshake thing, but I recommend a hug and a kiss. Don’t let the sun go down without saying thank you to someone, and without admitting to yourself that absolutely no one gets this far alone.”
– Stephen King
In my last post I touched on J.R.R. Tolkien and the importance of Fiction novels in general for something more than just entertainment. Books and movies provide inspiration, insight and help to process life’s complexities. For guys, “stories” can be an essential part of self-examination, and an author, becomes a guide and mentor. And that’s a good thing. But it would be sad if there were no mentors on a more personal level. Never the less, get wisdom, get insight and understanding wherever you can. I’m fortunate to have had a few people, maybe more than a few that have played both large and small rolls as advisors and guides in my life. I can be a little dense, so it has taken a bit of thinking, stopping to assess different stages in my life, all the same I am thankful for some really good people.
And it hasn’t always been just individuals. When I was about five years old I made my first close friend. His name was Kelly Rush. He and his family had a huge impact in my life. My parents went through a divorce when I was six with us kids staying with my mom. But I don’t really remember much about that time at home because by then I had almost become a part of the Rush clan. Over summer vacations it seemed that I would sleep over at their home more often than my own. Kelly’s parents and three older sisters, Chris, Carol and Donna, along with their friends, made me feel like I belonged, taking me along to movies and teaching me to ride a bike. It was in their swimming pool that I learned to swim – by the obligatory toss into the deep end of the pool. Despite the swimming pool part, I always felt safe, welcomed, encouraged and accepted.
Next, my older brother Chris, after he got out of his restless teens and stopped beating me up, turned out to be the brother every guy would want. He was changed when he returned from Viet Nam, discharged from the army just before his 21st birthday. He took that experience that often had a negative impact on many men and choose to make an impact for good in the lives of others. Always positive, always encouraging, he spent much of his life active in support of vets who fell on hard times. Through my teen years Chris supported and gave me advice. He taught me to drive, very patiently waiting as I tried to learn the stick shift of a VW bug. He was an amazing guy, the one everyone liked. He enjoyed life and invited you along for the ride. Sadly Chris passed away after a short struggle with cancer in 2008.
In business and life I’ve had many who have helped, encouraged and taught me a lot – Harry, Roy, Martin, Gary and Ed, to name a few. All men that have cared enough to give of themselves, and I’m sure I was just one of many that benefited from their direction and insight. I have spoken before of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and their impact on my life. They were men of amazing intellect and their writings and lives have been a great source of guidance. Another brilliant man, Dallas Willard, easily on a par with Lewis and Tolkien, was one I actually met and in a small way got to know. An author, speaker and professor of Philosophy at USC for over 45 years, he passed away earlier this year. Dallas really was a man who could speak with Kings or beggars, talking as an equal with gentleness and respect. The few times we spoke, to me he was as both a father figure and friend. Never in a million years could I come near his intellect, but his example of faith, humility and care for others is something I aspire to.
Examples of goodness, courage and all manor of greatness that are worth imitating can be found if you are looking for them. I am looking for them. And I find them in daily life, in movies and in books. It’s been said better, but – If you aren’t living you’re dying, if you aren’t growing you’re diminishing.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
– William Arthur Ward
“The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians, and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes- a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith and in spiritual character and power.”
– Dallas Willard