Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tango On

Was watching the movie “Scent of a woman” today, one of my favorites and a movie that coincidentally takes place during Thanksgiving. I was particularly moved today by a scene where the colonel is contemplating suicide, and a young Chris O’Connell makes an analogy to him about the tango, telling him that much like the dance, life is also a kind of tango. He explains to the colonel that just like in the dance, we get to tango on despite our mistakes, and that by continuing to dance we can still create something of value.

I thought about this idea as it relates to my own life. I have made plenty of mistakes in my time, and not just little ones either. I’ve run through monumental roadblocks and made some huge wrong turns. Yet somehow I am still here, getting the chance to tango on and humbly try to do things better. It’s an amazing privilege when you think about it.

So today, as I sit on the shore of a beautiful lake and watch the last of the leaves fall, I again remind myself to count my blessings. I am still drawing breath, and as long as I am, I have moment to moment choices as to how I am going to proceed. In my work I have the privilege of working with children, and in this capacity have a huge responsibility to teach them what I know and try and guide them through their troubles. The way I try to do this is through teaching them how to laugh again, and in doing so, I often find that they have in fact taught me more than I have taught them . Research demonstrates that children laugh roughly 300 times a day, while adults laugh about 20. This is a lesson I am reminded of often when I work with kids.

I am also grateful for all the friends in my life, who continually put up with all of my notable shortcomings. Having lost a few friends in the last couple of years, I am continually reminded to say all those things to people I never quite get around to saying. To cut through my pride and the momentary awkwardness and say the little things that sometimes go so far. It’s always a work in progress, and something I forget quite a bit. Again though, I have the chance to fix this. So to all my friends who add so much to my life on a daily basis. Thank you. You are very much appreciated.

I am also thankful for my family, and grow more grateful each day for these people who continually make me laugh. Working with families in turmoil on a daily basis, I see so much of myself as a young kid. Angry, resentful, and wanting nothing to do with these people I got stuck living with. I want to tell them that they will never get this time back, and sometimes I do tell them this, although it often falls on deaf ears. There are often no shortcuts to coming to appreciate the idea of family. We have to go out into the world and see how hard it is and how indifferent people can be to your difficulties when you have no ties that bind you together. And when you have seen this indifference for long enough, you come to find that the people who really cared were with you all along. So to my family, to you too I am very grateful. You all make me laugh so much.

Finally, I am grateful for my own journey that today brings me to a beautiful resort in a quiet country town, where I have the privilege of sipping good bourbon by a large fire. The sum of all of my choices has led me here, and right at this moment I can’t think of any place I’d rather be. Despite my constant stumbling, I am a free man with the opportunity to take a little time out for myself today to think about where I’ve been, and think about where I’m going. Although there are plenty of things I’d like to change, I accept that I am going to continue to step blindly into the mud puddles of my life again and again and again. But I get to tango on, and tango I shall until I’m not drawing breath any longer. I am here and I am grateful.