Sunday, March 1, 2009

That Guy ...


Okay, revealing another guilty pleasure … I like Bruce Willis movies, particularly the “Die Hard” series. I know they are gratuitously violent and filled with improbable if not impossible feats of derring-do but I just like them …

So, anyway, in the latest installment (the name of which is so corny and ridiculous I am too embarrassed to repeat it) the following interaction takes place: Super, resilient, indestructible hard-boiled detective John McLane, having just defeated an entire cadre of crazy bad guys, is riding in a car with the young fellow he has just rescued from said baddies. Paraphrasing, John says, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not with all this hero stuff,” young dude says. “I’m not that guy.”

“Believe me, pal, I don’t like doing this stuff anymore than the you do.”

“So why are you doing it?”

“Because I have to – because there’s nobody else here to do it.”

“And that is what makes you that guy.”

And so now … last week there was a big conference at my place of work. Required that everyone wear jacket and tie. I decided to buck the trend and wear a bow-tie instead of a regular neck tie. I like bow-ties – always have. Mammacita made me stop wearing them when we first married … said they made me look like an old man. Now that I am an old man they make me look … well … like me, I guess. Anyway, one of my colleagues said she liked the look. I thanked her and told her I was thinking of converting -- all bow-ties all the time. “You know if you do that,” said my friend Mike, “you’re gonna be that guy. Are you sure you wanna be that guy.”

The two coincidental uses of the same phrase got me thinking about identity. How much of it is reputation and how much is role (job title, spouse, parent etc.). How much of it is the “real” me and how much is mere affectation, put on to portray the guy I want to be … or to conceal the guy that I think really am. Such were my thoughts, until I remembered that I am (and forgive my French here) a grown-ass man. I am way past all that kind of thinking. The fact is that I am not who I thought I was going to be back when pipe-dreams and ambition consumed me and substituted for integrity and character. I am actually pretty all right with the person I have become.

And the other thing is, just because I have come to a particular age doesn’t mean that I have stopped “becoming” ... something more or better or just other than who I am right now. Now, I’m obviously not gonna be John McLane and I am pretty certain I want to be more than just the guy with the bow-tie …

Saw a story on TV the other day about a minister who leads a small congregation somewhere in the US. They don’t have a building and the minister doesn’t take a salary. Every dime they collect when they pass the plate on Sunday is then given away to people in need. They pay people’s rent, and help them with their medical bills, and feed them and keep them warm. Sounds cool to me … wouldn't mind being that guy.

The President in his speech to congress last week mentioned a corporate ceo who took every penny of his substantial yearly bonus and distributed it to the people he felt who earned it – the people who work for him and run the company. How ‘bout being that guy.

In the Bible Jesus talks about a particular type of generosity. He speaks of a kind of indivudual heroism that is as real as it is unsung. He says that you should give in such a way that your right hand doesn’t know what your left hand is doing. A worthy aspiration …I’d like to be that guy.

4 comments:

VallyP said...

Hear hear Van! I'd like to be all of those guys. Great piece of writing again. I love the way you right about your personal views in such an 'accessible' way. It's really as if you're talking to us and it's very very cool!

VanO said...

Thanks, Val ... as always, TOO kind. :)

VallyP said...

Pish! Did I really write the way you 'right'? Well you knew what I meant, but were too kind to say so...I'm making so many typos these days!

Anyway, I meant to say thanks for coming to my blog, Van.

VallyP said...

PS I love BW movies too!