Friday, January 23, 2009

Simple men.

Life is ironic, that those who have a lot, sometimes lack a lot, that those who have little, sometimes possess some rich, remarkable, puzzling things.
Robert Coles

One of the things I most enjoyed about some of the men I was meeting was the simplicity of their lives. They were not as eager and ambitious as me. It was not about chasing grand dreams, and looking for big breaks and ruthlessly seeking the success that could launch them into stardom and power. They seemed to enjoy their work, and the life God had given them. Straight up. While, I am sure there was a time when they wrestled with their life, and the track they were on as a young man—they had seemed to at some point to have settled it, and instead of being upset, or frustrated that it didn’t become all they wanted, they chose to participate with the people, and the events, and hobbies they did enjoy that was around them—and that be enough.

But you had to be careful to just call them simple, as to write them off for being small minded, or basic, because it was to underestimate the complexities of these men. They were simple in execution of their life, and how they went about it, but they also had minds and brilliance that would be on the level of a Nobel Prize mind or a great philosopher. Bob, a builder in Monument, by all means seemed to fit in this category of simple, and go with the flow. He was never up tight. Always pleasant, never upset. But when we went to visit his home, and opened his barn, there were all types of projects contained in it, a trailer he was creating from welding metal pipes, and adding axles and diamond plating, along with fixing a hot tub. He had extended his Jeep out 12 inches, talking about so simply, as if it was like replacing a tube of toilet paper with a new one. All this while he constructed homes, built completely on his own, with just his two hands. Cory and I walked around his barn like we were in Disney World, there was no hay and pitchfork, it looked something similar to the Bat Cave with all the gear, and equipment for his business, and hobbies scattered throughout.

I envied these men, because they were doing what they loved, and the way God made them.

They knew that they loved to fly-fish so they did. They had great pleasure in making wood—so they did that. I envied this gratification. Envied the sense of satisfaction, and peace, and contentment that came with this rhythm of life that I could not settle down, and find. They had this peace, internal rest that came from doing it day in and day out. And not being so easily enticed by the changing waves of the world, and dreams. So much of this collection of activities and hobbies, my pursuit of dreams and goals, and trying them all on, was to understand which ones I enjoyed. And part of it was not just doing them to check them on the list, but ask the deeper question… what did I enjoy? Do I love fly-fishing? Or is hunting more my thing?

They had an anchor that seemed missing in so many of us guys. Moving in and out of jobs, not wanting to commit and settle for something that was a little below us. It seemed that these men never thought that way. They did what was needed, and took it in stride. And found their enjoyment and pleasure through it.

I think it was why I enjoyed being around these men. They had a calming affect when I was with them. I slowed down. Talked slower. Thought about less. And enjoyed more. Looked at the landscape. The trees. Savored the potatoes and meat more. They were not barons of industry, or great musical success stories that I saw growing up in Nashville. They were men that would never be talked about, or made into a bestseller book, or looked to for success stories, and that was the irony of it. Most people were reading and learning from those spiritual gurus in hopes of actually finding the peace and contentment these men had.

In a world, and the American dream that told everyone they were free to pursue dreams, and telling us we could be the next cover story, and with my own personal drive that was eager to find that by reaching for the moon, it seemed these men reached for their tools, and their guns, their fly rods, and their often simple routines, and that was enough.