Growing up in Southern Louisiana gave me my fare share of exposure to the outdoors. I remember early mornings with my grandfather and his buddies on Spanish Lake which was a small stretch of water between my home town of Lafayette, LA and new Orleans. I wished I could understand their Creole French. But, then again, maybe it was an opportunity for them to discuss things too mature for my 10 year old ears. Mr. T-Keg was my favorite. Whenever he wasn't catching any fish, I could hear him mumbling something in Creole only to hear my grandfather respond with, "T-Keg, stop cussing them fish boy. They ain't do nothing to you."
I was also responsible to help clean fish no despite my desire to drop dead from being tired. Even if I didn't make the trip, it was mandatory that I help to clean. After all, I was going to participate in the eating. So, it was only fair that I participate in the cleaning. My hands smelled like a Pirate Of A Caribbean armpits by the time we were done. I'm suspicious they expected my exposure to the insides of the fish would curb my appetite. Nope! I gobbled down that southern fried goodness with ease.
The one piece of thread weaving through all of this was a sense of the enjoyment of each other's company weather you were family or not. In the boat, at the cleaning table and the eating table is were I felt planted, secure and loved. It was a blast! Partly due to their basic love for one another and due to the fare share of ice cold malt in paw-paw's ice chest. Regardless, these times were special and seemed necessary for good soul-health.
Although play time was very important, hard work was never belittled. That generation worked HARD! I mean HARD! REALLY HARD! They're what I like to call the keeping food on the table while never missing a game or recital generation. No matter how many hours worked or commuted, at least 4 family members were there for my baseball games, band recitals and talent shows. I could always hear mom in the baseball bleachers yelling, "Comon guys. Let's get one on," all the while in her work clothes. Those were special times; "Rich" to say the least. As an adult, I'm often envious about their ability to prioritize. They did community extremely well.
I, like many of us long for what they had. Having traveled a little, I can honestly say that places with a strong sense of community were the most enjoyable and socially warm. I sat and thought about this for a day or two and kept coming back to my grandfather's boat. Then, the aha moment happened. Boat Modeled Life! Makes sense right? No? Ok, well think of a boat and motor:
THE BOAT: The boat holds everything you'll need to stay afloat while pursuing your next catch. Safety vests (safety first), seats, tackle, ice chests, anchor, rod & reel and so on.
MOTOR: This is power needed to move you from place to place.
I see this as a picture of a healthy and balanced life. I like to consider our boat to be community (family, friends, etc.). The motor represent our jobs. It simply moves things along. Let's say we lose our job (motor breaks down). Well, there's the beauty of community (the boat) to help keep us afloat until we're able to solve the issue. Both play important roles in the life experience. But, I think there's something to observe about the size difference between boat and motor. The boat is much bigger. I think it's safe to say it's potentially the more important of the two. Why? Ever think of holding on to a motor when you're in turbulent water? Just a thought.
I'm far from a sociologist. Matter of fact, I had to spell check the word when I just typed it. But, I like to use this piece to hopefully strike a chord in us all when it comes to the way we do life and where were placing our time. Of course, work is important. A community without work is like a a boat with no motor. That's not productive. But, I am intrigued by the moves of high ranking CEOs like Mohamed El-Erian and Max Schireson who decided exchange high paying jobs for more time with his families. They're basically wanting to give their children a sense of affirmation and most of all - community. As the African proverb says, "It takes a village to raise a child."
We're all blessed with talents and services which should be offered graciously to the world both for-profit or as gifts. But, I like to submit Boat Modeled Life as a picture of a balanced life. Once we can get past our fears, insecurities and need for a fancy title, we'll see that community is a beautiful place filled with people who truly love us for who we are. This is of utmost importance for those who work from a platform (speakers, entertainers, etc.) where the platform becomes an inadequate place of refuge. What a lonely place. If this applies to you, I encourage Psalm 68:6 "God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land." To those are just sensing a need for more community, know that we're all the product of the very thing we're longing for - Community. Don't be afraid to take a step of faith towards joining that church, small group or here's one - getting to know your next door neighbor. Finally consider 1 John 1:5-7
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.