"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Man's Reach Should Exceed His Grasp

Or what's a Heaven for?

That's a quote from Robert Browning, apparently. I had to look it up. I've been trying to live that. I've been trying to accept new challenges that lie outside my comfort zone. I figure that's a good way to grow even after hitting this middle age thing, follow my hero Walt Disney's advice and open door news and do new things. This fall, I'm awash in open doors and new things in the form of involvement with our local community theatre and our church, and while it is truly fun, sometimes I'm reminded just how far from my grasp my reach tends to be.

I've written of my involvement in a production of The 39 Steps, a really cool play we are putting on in a really cool theater here and here. That's going to be taking up a good deal of my time this fall, and it's going to lead me down some new paths and provide some new challenges, but I feel very confident in my ability to play my part well enough to help make our show a success. That's not where my grasp vs. reach thing comes into play. What has been worrying me more lately is my service as a member of the theatre group's board of directors. I was asked to join the board by my best friend's mom and agreed because I trust her judgement, and because telling her "no" is pretty much unthinkable. You'd have to meet her to understand. Up til now, the board work has been largely within my grasp, but here lately maybe not so much. We are heading into a new season and beginning the process of figuring out what it will look like. I'm reminded how ignorant I am of all things theatrical.  I don't know shows. I haven't heard of many, let alone have any sort of familiarity with them. I don't know the process by which the board has set up a season in the past, and they are acting like they don't either. That's the infuriating part. And it's not enough that I agreed to be ON the governing board of a theatre company with zero experience in anything theatrical, I let myself be elected president-elect of the damned thing. Again, Miss Anne, my pal's mom, thought it was a good idea and I went along. No one else wanted to do it and I do truly care about this organization, so I'm not complaining, but it's starting to worry me. The one person I thought would be happy about my taking over the reigns is ambivalent at best, and I must say that troubles me. And that leads to the other problem I have with being president of this outfit. There are a few people involved who aren't very nice, who have hurt my pal and who generally lack the social skills to successfully interact with the rest of the human race. I hoped that taking the presidency of this group would allow me to stop the nastiness and drama (yeah, I wanted to stop the drama in a theater group. I'm a fool, I know) and let the truly good things the group does in the community lead the way. I still hope I can do that, but I am wondering if I can. I don't feel much in the way of confidence from myself or anyone else. But I'll try.

Then there's the church thing. Yeah. So I agreed after Pastor Fred asked me to join the Staff Parish Committee about a year ago. It's exactly like the Miss Anne thing, Fred asks and I am NOT going to say "no." That went well, it played to my strength and experience. But I always had, and continue to have, this nagging feeling that I'm a fraud. The folks on church committees tend to be a bit more, let's just say "pious" than I am. I was just recently asked to join a new committee, one tasked with determining the direction of the church as it heads into the future. The man organizing the committee said he wanted people "representing all facets of the church." I suppose he wanted the almost-heathens represented when he thought of my name. No one there can think I'm one of the more religious ones. Most know I'm a beer salesman. I don't ever profess to be particularly religious. I don't get why my name keeps coming up. I feel like I've fooled someone somewhere, but I haven't tried to at all, I swear. I can fool people into thinking I like them, I am happy when I'm not, I agree with them when I don't or pretty much anything else I set my mind to, but in this case I haven't. I just don't get it. We had a meeting of what is nominally called the "Vision Team" on Saturday and I was so far out of my element, I felt really uncomfortable. We did exercises concerning bible stories and our favorite hymns. I can't remember hardly any bible stories and I don't like hymns. At all. I  muddled through, but  it was strange. What was really strange was that the group took my muddlings as the representative voice of the whole committee. No. Please don't do that. I mean, don't you know that I have no idea what I'm talking about? That I am a salesman and a nerd and the odd one out who has learned to fake it as best he can? You really want to listen to me? Well, I'm not sure I want them to listen me. I'm only there as an experiment, can't they see that? It kills me. It makes me feel like a lie.

I think that's why I can't feel good about doing what I did with Gina last week. It was a lie. She will be no better off after that than she was before. I'm a fixer by nature and I couldn't fix Gina, not even a little. I did the surface kindness, but I know it is meaningless in the grand scheme.

I know I'm right to try to reach, but it's that grasp thing......

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