If I could have lunch with JFK, I wouldn’t need to say a word. I’ve always wanted to just observe his style and be with his vibe and understand how he achieved such influence. I imagine him to be calm, commanding and authentically confident. Just being in the room with him would be more than enough for me to learn what made him that way.
If I had a chance to be with Jesus, I’d remain silent. I’d walk with him and try to place my feet within the imprints of his sandals and I’d hope that the sun would hit him in a way that cast his shadow over me so that I could be fully eclipsed with awe.
I’d love to spend an afternoon in a gutter helping Mother Teresa lift people up and out. For sure we’d have nothing to say to each other—she didn’t use words much, preferring relentless focus and action. I’d just quietly observe what meaningful work looks like in its most holy form.
Breathing the same air as Price Siddhartha would overwhelm me. I imagine it to be musky and thick from the dust kicked up by all the people who followed his words and took his wisdom back into the world to make kindness and grace a living and tangible reality.
I’d want to spend this silent time with them and many others because I’ve come to rely upon people’s behavior and evidence far more than what they say, or what others say about them. I’m less interested in how they achieved things and more interested in why.
Within silent observation I learn more about the person, and myself, than would ever be possible with words— The confidence of a man doesn’t tell me how bright or capable he is, it tells me how much he believes in himself and owns the reality of the moment and I’ve found that to do most anything that matters most.
The focus and commitment of Mother Teresa, her physical actions…they represent something words can’t… the way she lifts up a baby, how tired she was personally as she just kept going and going, the dismissive qualities she’s famous for—unrelenting in her goal and not letting anything or one derail her. I want to see what really motivated her, to try and feel what she felt because for it to fuel within her everything it did, it must have been unbelievable.
The silence around Jesus, Siddhartha, JFK and so many others is what didn’t seem to get recorded—it’s not discussed or passed down thru the generations. The results of what happened are clear— we can list these people’s accomplishments easily.. but what fueled them?
What was in the silent times, the in-between moments, the back stages of their lives?
I don’t see curiosity around what made these people tick or a burning desire to understand what inspired them in such a significant way…
Within the silence of these brief encounters, that’s what I’d really be looking for—an understanding of motivation, drive, passion, conviction, perseverance.
Mostly because it’s what I look for in myself… what motivates me, gets me going, keeps me moving and connected and hungry and hell-bent and passionate…
When I see people suffering and struggling to make it in our incredibly fortunate American society I often observe that it’s not any physical hindrance but rather the lack of clear understanding about what wakes us, takes us and shakes us.. What motivates greed or gratitude, war or peace, transaction or compassion, significance or in significance?
If we make finding what fuels us our one thing, I’ve think we’ve finally achieved everything.
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