stories of a failed holy man


on missing my mark

My friend tackled an old man into the lake.

Ok, it wasn’t an old man. It was my other friend dressed as an old man. But it was definitely the most hilarious thing I’ve seen since Ricky getting hit by a car.

It was before the days of every 5 year old having a cellphone camera. I lugged the handheld mini DVD player down to Wascana Lake. I don’t remember why, but we got this brilliant idea to make a short film about us being the Wascana garbage collectors, taking out the human trash since 1991. I was the cameraman. My friend Ryan played the ringleader. My other friend Ryan dressed up as an old man. It wasn’t too hard for him, since his style mostly matched that of an 80 year old anyway. He only needed a cane to complete the ensemble.

The plan was to talk about the human trash residing in the park, and how it was our job to get rid of it. It was set up perfectly, with Ryan #1 angrily ranting into the camera about the ills of society. Ryan #2 took his place by the path along the lake. Ryan #1 said to the camera something about seeing some human trash that needed to be taken care of. He then proceeded to tackle Ryan #2, who had a fake cane and was far enough away from the camera to be mistaken for a stranger, into the lake.

It was perfect. The timing of the tackle…the gasp that left Ryan #2 as he flew through the air. We even asked another couple walking past to join the charade and feign concern for the old man as he splashed around the water.

It was around this point I realized I had forgotten to hit the record button.

I won’t rehash the look of disappointment on Ryan #1 & #2’s faces. Even the passing by couple was disappointed in me, shaking their heads in disgust for me having wasted their valuable time. You might wonder why tackling old people into a lake would be considered fun, and if you are wondering that, you have a solid point. I had recorded some speaking parts, but missed a few key portions, making the whole thing choppy and missing the climax tackle. If I remember correctly, they had to redo the tackle. Nothing was as brilliant the second time around.

I often feel like I’m missing my mark. In life, you only get one shot. Yes I did just quote an eminem song from 8 mile. And no, I don’t regret it. I feel like things are passing me by and I’m the oblivious bystander, fiddling with the record button. I had one job…

Anthony DeMello is a brilliant writer. His book ‘Awareness’ contends that to be alive is to be in the moment, seeing what’s happening all around you in people and events. So many of us sleepwalk through life, focusing on what’s next or what’s happened before. But he calls us out of the craziness of everyday life into paying attention to the deeper realities going on beneath the surface.

It reminds me of Jesus call to consider the lilies. To love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. To give to those who ask without expecting a return. To love God and love people. Jesus lived in the moment more than anyone. The beauty if a life well lived is seen in Jesus. I’m jealous of Jesus. Man, that guy had it soooo easy. Minus the crucifixion part.

I’m not Jesus. I’m Blair. And I have attention issues.

I can’t be Jesus or Anthony de Mello. But I can be me. It might not seem exciting, but it could be. I just have to start paying attention.

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