Ride The Goat

638. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Judy was typing a quick email. She wanted to tell me which ferry she was taking into Seattle the next morning to meet me. Instead of typing “boat” she typed “goat.” Catching her mistake she deleted “goat” and tried again to type “boat” but instead she missed again and typed “boar.” She was so amused by her swimming menagerie that she told me of her mis-types so I could share in the fun. We decided she would take the early goat over and return on the late afternoon boar. Entire worlds change with alteration of a single letter.

Meaning making is a subtle yet powerful business.

Quinn was curious about perception and personality; he was a great studier of humankind. No experiment was too silly for him to try. Once, many years ago, he read an article in a magazine about personality traits and how character reveals itself in small children. It was a nature or nurture question. He had two daughters who in many ways were as different as night and day and decided he needed to create his own test and his daughters where the perfect subjects. At the time, Quinn was a banker so he wore nice suits and carried a briefcase. One evening when his oldest daughter was 5 years old and playing in the swimming pool, Quinn came home from work, tipped his hat to his daughter and walked into the deep end of the pool. His daughter laughed and laughed. Daddy went swimming with his clothes on. 4 years later, when his younger daughter was 5 years old, he repeated the experiment. This daughter cried and cried; something was dreadfully wrong with daddy.

I met his daughters when they were adults. The oldest is filled with laughter; the youngest feels deeply the world’s pain. Both smile and recount with great love the day their father came home and walked fully clothed into the pool. Both are dedicated to helping create a better world – they just do it in two entirely different ways.

Quinn served as my personal Viktor Frankel: he taught me that meaning is something we make, not something that we find. He also demonstrated, again and again, that some of us will cross the Sound riding a goat, others will take the boar, and still others will make the crossing on a boat. Some will see mischief and whimsy, some will see suffering and misery, and some will never see the magic beyond the ordinary filters that they’ve chosen to wear. And, that has nothing to do with the world and despite our natural orientation we have great choice in how to see it.
He also taught me that life is much more fun if you sacrifice the suit to the moment rather than try and protect it. He understood that we too often sacrifice the essential to maintain the superficial; it takes a wily trickster to alter a single letter and open our eyes to the amazing possibilities available in the small moments of life.

2 Responses

  1. Love this one, David! So much of our experience is perspective, isn’t it? And we do “too often sacrifice the essential to maintain the superficial.”

  2. DAVID!!!
    I particularly adore this post and I particularly appreciate what the gifts you bring to life’s party. Thanks!

    Just had a moment of screen-clarity myself. Was sending a message to a friend who was in a stressful situation and I wanted to write,
    “If you wish to discuss, or want/need support just ask.”

    Instead the words I wrote on the screen were,
    “If you wish to discuss, or want/need support, just act.”

    LOVED this bit of self-counsel.

    Sign me, your fan in NYC.

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