I'm 43. Going to be 44 in a few days. In that time I've always lived by a credo. Never allow others to control your own future. It has served me well. But the last several years I've hung back and gotten complacent when I should have been working on the next opportunity. In the life I lead at work my role has fluctuated between that of the mentor and guide to that to the servitude to those who hold my leash.
I've lived through a few set backs mostly due to the misguided notion that my actions were pure and just but when judgement befell me I wallowed in the self loathing of my own victim hood. It's not because I didn't recognize my own culpability. But because I believed my actions belied a higher calling. No that's not right. I believed my actions were not only justified but necessary to the greater good of my humanity.
To many times those closest to me warned against my full throttle approach when it came to my interactions with others. I was cautioned to reserve my ability to call out the ineptitude of others. But the warnings and the lectures went unheeded. The belief I have always labored under was the certainty of righteousness. The words and fast pattern speech I have flung unabashedly at others had always had the intended affect. But the fall out of the barbs I inflicted in others over time had made certain unalienable consequences that those around me could see lining up to seek their revenge a galaxy away. I was never so certain the seeds I have sown would ever come home to roost.
But come home to roost they did. My world was upended in a manner I never could have predicted. Pick your metaphor. Any number of which could be seen as not only correct but fortuitous in their nature. Sadly the motto I have lived by has betrayed me in ways only a Machiavellian sonnet could predict.
I was suspended not once but twice both times equaling a year in duration. But the last one is the one I have to fear the most. It's the one that harm the family I have grown. I still have a job that hasn't changed but it could. The thing that has provided a roof, clothing and food now rest in a fragile state. One misstep could land me in the bread line. So I have been forced against my will to take inventory of my core.
What I have found is this honesty comes with a price when it is delivered in a manner that is lacking in the empathy of those on the receiving end. The message gets lost in the emotion of those who feel the brunt of a verbal assault. For that a bounty must be paid to those who have become the fodder for their public victimization.
So I was forced to take inventory of my approach. What has emerged for me is no less than the rising of my own Phoenix. For the last month or so I have basked in the light of both my peers and those who control the destiny of my future. Two things changed for me. Both of which I can attribute to people whose thoughts I hold dear to me. The first was the acknowledgment of my potential for greatness. The second was to never lose sight of who I am at heart.
A friend of mine told me if I was to harness all that I am into reaching my full potential the boundaries for me will become infinite if I were to find a dose of grace and humility. Another told me to hang onto the complete honesty with which I do everything. They were both right but for different reasons. I have always felt that grace and humility were for those who lacked the conviction of their actions. But for a myriad of opaque reasons I myself can not begin to grasp or explain how it was I missed the boat so entirely on that score.
The other piece of advice about honesty above all else reinforced my own belief system but for the better and not the worst. My parents instilled in me to tell the truth even when doing so meant I would pay a price. But the part I missed in my upbringing was the valuation of the humanity in the message has to be without guile or the caustic instrument of the message which can inflect damage or harm to others. I wish now as a man I had listened more closely to the lessons they sought to instill in me,
Slow as I was to learn those valued lessons when I was but a tot I have now brought forth what my folks had so long ago tried to instill in me. Now for reasons I can't explain my behavior has changed to accommodate the audience that stands before me.
But maybe it started with a tattoo. For a while now I have wanted to pay homage to the vessel which provided me with boundless amounts of life's lessons. So I got a tattoo. It's my design but to be fair the artist who crafted the image that now adorns my left forearm did a far better job of rendering what I wanted than what I presented him with. I'm proud of that tattoo. Its a Celtic cross with an old time ships anchor resting against it. The cross and the anchor are both resting in sand with splashes of ocean breaking around the edges. The anchor has a rope which wraps around the cross. It means something to me to see it every day. I am reminded of a time when I was part of something that was greater than anything I had ever done before then and even now.
It represents something in me that I am at a loss to articulate to others the full meaning. During those years when I served on board the Forge the men I fought side by side with meant more to me than anyone in the world. And now years later I find myself in a place where the camaraderie of my own by gone era has emerged in a different form but feeds the thing I have been missing for so long.
To be surrounded by people who share the same mythos I do has ignited in me a spark that for so many years I feared was extinguished.
It started with a tattoo and from that I was presented with an opportunity to move in a different direction. And while that is still emerging I found another doorway that led into an arena I have ventured before but on a far grander scale.
And today another path presented itself which I graciously took. I don't know where these paths lead or what other doorways I will stumble upon but I know this if I hadn't taken the opportunity to seek out my own destiny I would still be languishing in a void of stagnation.
Life is good at work and at home and for that I am thankful which by itself doesn't begin to give weight to the freedom that lays before me.
Happiness may be judged by the ownership of possessions or the mantle of hearth and family. Or maybe it lies in the certainty of what lays ahead. But for me happiness lies in the opportunities of the unknown. Either way it is judged in the end it can only be the importance of of the subscription of your own internal guide and the assertiveness of the view of the road that lays ahead.