A Herd of Elk

Written October 2, 2016

     It was in my imagination. I was driving past the fenced garden, to the lane way, onto the street. I arrive at the stoplight just meters away, and it was not red. I had a green light. I’m thinking, “Here is a sign of blessing. My way has no trees to swerve around.” And then, “What if my way had been blocked by a herd of elk; or even just one elk (have you seen how large they stand)? Then how would I be? Would I be feeling euphoria then? Is getting the green truly an indication every thing is right ?” I did not think so.

     This was what I was thinking one morning as I prepared for the day of work. I have had it that while moving toward a destination every light was red. It’s a gouge in the eye to get one red. But a whole row sometimes results in a release of air from the lungs. Sometimes words escape like a spewing eruption, as if the health news was worse than first thought.   

     How are we when that light is an outstanding sheen of green? How are we when our way doesn’t go the way we expect? What happens when we don’t get our way? How are we then? How are we when there are others surrounding us, the ones we don’t know very well? How are we when we don’t get what we want, and the dearest and best we’ve been given are right in front of us? How are we when we are alone, and the stuff we were hoping for gets stomped on like some giant foot blocking the way?
     And why are we different, the way we are, depending on the present company?

     Others have observed it. We live in a resume culture (David Brooks, The Road to Chacter).  The greater the achievements, the higher the scores, the more we can wow: people will be impressed. Mostly it is like Houdini, however, since what you see is not quite what you think you see. It fails to ask how we we are when we achieve. I have read biographies of successful business people. They had made it in life. A lot of green lights got their way, because most often they forced the lights to be that way. Talk to people who worked closely with them, and admiration fades like a white greyish cloud blocking the sun.  The real concern, observes Brooks, is what people will tell of you as a eulogy.

     It surely is wonderful stuff to get green lights all the way along. In my experience we become better when those elk crowd in. How we are tells totally different stories, especially when we struggle through, like a person hiking up a steep hill who have not done so for a time. I have found a yearning of late when such blocked passageways come, to not want to be right, when I am wrong. I want a rightness that is not mine, a received right that is beyond my reach, yet so very available. This gives freedom to be wrong, and admit when I am; when I really am.

     So, how are you when those lights are red?
     

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