Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Flats

I got a phone call late last night. It certainly wasn’t one that I had been anticipating. In fact it called me out of a meeting. The voice on the other end had a bewildered tone. “Dad, why didn’t you tell me that I had a flat tire?” It might be a reasonable question in some other circumstance, however not in this one. He thought that I might have some insight into his inflationary issues since I had changed his tires that morning. The problem with his thought process was that since that time, early in the morning, more than 14 hours and at least 100 miles worth of driving had occurred, primarily by him, and the tire was at its reliable fighting weight of 34 lbs psi. Then it had sat at his place of employment for about 5 hours. In addition to these minor details, in his driving he had been all around his car packing it to go home, as well as putting new registration tabs on his license plates. On top of that, the tire in question was the front drivers side tire, which he had passed numerous times that day. I on the other hand, had not even laid eyes on his vehicle since the wee hours of the morning. Don’t even ask why I was out in the rain, in the wee hours, changing his tires, while he was on a flight back from Southern California sunshine.
Anyway, after some brief lamenting of just where I had failed as a dad and a significant male role model, I began to process this inspirational parental moment. My son is not unique in his world view of how things operate. The best way I can place him and many others that I encounter, is that they live in what I refer to as “The Land of Should”. In this far and foreign,….actually imaginary….land, the people of should try desperately to exist on a plane of being where all things operate as they think they “should”. Practically played out, this means that when I get in my car, the tires should have air in them. The gas tank should still give a few more gallons of gas even when it has read “E” for the last three days. In “The Land of Should”, the red “E” on my dashboard should mean “enough”. In this fabled land, when I have to be somewhere in 10 minutes, there is no stopped traffic, even in places where traffic has never moved before. In this land, oil just appears on the dipstick. Fine print doesn’t appear anywhere in a contract and rebates actually come in 4 to 6 weeks. My homeowners insurance would cover exactly what I had intended it to cover and my health deductible actually gets met before my year expires. It’s a wonderful place, this “Land of Should”. Tragically, it doesn’t exist, except for in the minds of those who pursue it. Even more tragic though, in my opinion, is that it’s the only land that we have equipped most people to live in.
People are driving around with flats in their lives that they think shouldn’t exist and when the revelation finally shines on them, they feel someone else is responsible. This plays out for me professionally many, many times over the course of my year and throughout the relationships that I encounter. People think that relationships, marriage and otherwise, should just happen with no effort. They think check books should just balance, no matter how tied to the mall that they are. They think that forgiveness should just occur without words or interaction. They think that faith should just cover up a multitude of sins. Faith can cover up every “tude” of sins, however consequences do linger. But not for them, in the “Land of Should” they don’t exist. I apologize for appearing trite or simplistic with peoples lives, but this is really how much of this appears by the time it reaches me.
In the real world, where we actually live, things rarely happen as they might in “Should”. Life is difficult, but faith is real and empowering. Relationships are difficult to navigate, but faith gives us direction and insight. In the real world, money is earned and spent and oddly enough, my faith has guidance for that as well that can provide for me far better than I ever could. In the real world, we need to be participants and strugglers and responsible for the things that come our way, even flats.

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