Friday, September 19, 2014

Full of surprises

You come to expect how people will react, what they'll do.

The longer you live, the more people you meet, the more confident you become in knowing what to expect. Jaded is kind of the right word to describe it, but unfortunately it has a pejorative flavour that doesn't fit at all here.

Occasionally you meet a flamboyant person who surprises, but then you realize that they're flamboyant, and the initial shimmer of difference fades as you pigeonhole them. Once flamboyant, regularly flamboyant, they're just flamboyant. That's how it is.

Quite often I accused Bob of being a wizard. I meant that in the Obewan Kenobe, Merlin, Gandolf tradition. OK, I don't believe in pixie dust, or in the 'Poof! I'm here, now I'm not, now I'm here', vein of common wizardry.

Bob could always surprise me. You thought you had his measure, and then he'd surprise you. In a good way. Well... I have to say that his most recent and final surprise was breathtaking, though not in a good way. Suffice to say, he outdid himself. I'll bet he surprised himself.

There's a lesson here. We should all be full of good surprises.

I am also fascinated by presence.

That's not to say I'm any good at it myself.

People who have it are a source of wonder. They are a precious few, and they're far between. You know it when you feel it. I think that what passed in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance for sainthood, was mostly presence in good people. The aura that is represented by the halo is the best way to picture it.

I hasten to add that people with presence are not by any means all saints. Presence cuts both ways. I'm reasonably sure Nero had presence.

People with presence surprise you, because it's so rare. Yet, like the flamboyant individual, while the aura can and does wax and wane, presence is usually, well, present. People who are full of surprises, in a good way, are rarer still.

If you strive to be an exceptionally good human being, strive for presence, and strive to be full of good surprises.

The first step is to listen, to be aware of others' needs and desires. It's not about me, it's about you. The next step is to fulfill a need, grant a wish. Every now and then will do. Be a gift to your family and friends. Be a gift to the people you meet.

It's hard, I'm not good at it. I wish I had presence, I'd like to be a wizard.

I'm very privileged because I've known people with presence (Henry, Pierre, Red) and also a wizard or three (Margaret, Bernard, Bob).

The world needs many more good wizards with presence.

I think I know where the path starts.

Can I take it?

Can you?


Dar said...

David, I think you have presence, even if I haven't met you in person, it comes out in spades in your writing, your zest for life and love of family and friends is palpable in your writing and I would hazard a guess that people you know probably consider you in the wizard category yourself. And yes Bob was magic and still will be because when I think of him there is a little frisson in the atmosphere almost as if he is saying "I'll always be here". But if I could say one thing to him it would be "Damn it Bob none of were ready for this surprise."

Conchscooter said...

I have absolutely no clue where the path starts. I take it that will be the subject of your next profound essay? Some of us have social disabilities out here and need to be pointed in the right direction.
Thank you.

David Masse said...

Michael, if I had to guess, you're not only on the path, you're a very good way along. All the moto-bloggers in this little community give of themselves every time they post. How many people go hundreds of miles out of their way when their dog asks them to visit strangers in a strange land? By that measure, friend (it's too late now, we're befriended), we have much more to learn from you than you may think. As someone I admire once said to me, you're one if the good ones. A 'keeper'.

David Masse said...

Dar, you'll be fine. These things cut, eventually leave a little scar. Not in a bad disfiguring way though. More in the way of proud tribal warriors who decorate their bodies with ritual scars. I once thought of grief as cumulative psychic damage. But I don't think it needs to be. We can be better for it. Wiser. More wizardly. It just hurts to get there.

Kathleen Jennette said...

Yes, Bob had that Chutzpah many look for, and he lived it too. He lived a fun life and wrote the way he lived. He once told me to start blogging again, "It's your diary, write it down". "Have fun with it". I took his advice and reopend my blog. I now choose the way to live the precious life each morning I wake up. I never know what it is, but I do make use of my time the best way possible. Even with the bad, I am happy, as that is the way it is. As long as I can learn and share the experience...that is the prize. As I see it, if one cannot share their being "wise" or "wonders" in life, on any level, one is just for one. That can't bring too much happiness. I am glad Bob made us all happy. I am glad we had our talks.

The City Mouse in the Country said...

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

Marcus Aurelius

Keith - Circle Blue said...

Yes, it seems to start with presence, or at least being present. I, too, have been blessed to know a few folk who can show up moment after moment.

Surprises. Wouldn't be wonderful if all our surprises were delightful? Doesn't seem to work that way, although many a surprise I thought distasteful has surprised me and turned to grand.

Keep writing.

David Masse said...

Katy, nicely put. We are kindred spirits.

David Masse said...

Marcus Aurelius had it right... for a Caesar.

David Masse said...

Thank you very much Keith. Writing is a challenge and a gift, all at the same time.

If you have a chance, check out Stephanie Yue's post on Wyoming and Montana.

David Masse said...

I just stumbled on this. Same thoughts, better said with fewer words:

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.