Decrease

Decrease: (v) to diminish or lessen

I was a god.

A ruler by passion, muscle and erection.

Nothing seemed to matter other than me.

I forced myself to be humble.

I pretended to have brief spurts of weakness so as not to frustrate those who were trying to keep up.

I tried to run my life by my emotional and spiritual sensibility, but my energies far surpassed my willingness to be cooperative.

I was a man, a husband, a lover—a domineering force who tenderized my efforts through a studied understanding.

People called me dad. I was their father—and able to father more.

I was the one who lifted things.

I was the one who solved problems that involved movement and pounds.

I was strong.

And then one day—and it seemed like just one day—it changed.

The young men born into my house were suddenly surging.

  • I was present but not omnipresent.
  • I was potent but not omnipotent.

I saw them growing—each finding his place.

I spied them bringing intelligent people into their lives.

I was becoming a symbol, a memory—a standard.

It was time for me to decrease in my importance and allow the world around me and those I loved to increase in their decision-making will.

At first, I resisted—and when I did, the young ones were compelled by the natural order to pull away from me, to make their mark.

But when I realized that my decreasing gave license to their increasing, it brought me joy to know that somewhere in the vast unfolding, I still offered value.

I am no longer a god.

I had sons.

They brought daughters who birthed children.

I had to decrease so they could increase.

But in doing so, I found my better place.

Dealership

Dealership: (n) a sales agency or distributor

I was a full-grown man, but when our family car blew up, I was feeling a great need to do something powerful. I needed to restore my position of respect with my children.

I had three thousand dollars. It was enough to buy another car if I had shopped well and hadn’t been in a huge hurry to convey a message to my offspring that I was in control.

I wasn’t in control.

I was still reeling a bit from my all-time favorite car giving up—and also way to eager to replace it without missing a beat.

I located the place in our town where car dealerships congregated to practice their “religion on wheels.” Driving among them, I immediately saw a Grand Marquis that was just stunning.

So I stopped in and talked to Bob. I don’t know whether his name actually was Bob, but it seemed reassuring displayed on his nametag. Bob told me the Grand Marquis was thirty-five hundred dollars.

My two oldest sons were with me on the trip.

They still thought I hung the moon after God displayed the stars.

I wanted to appear omnipotent. I needed to negotiate Bob down to the mat and pin him with a price of my choosing instead of his.

So I told Bob all I had was twenty-nine hundred dollars. He rolled his eyes. He said it was “impossible.” He even walked away to talk to a boss to see if something could be done.

In the process of all this negotiating, I actually cracked through Bob’s sales pitch to a real person. I didn’t know it. I thought I was dominating and was gradually getting what I wanted.

When he finally and reluctantly agreed to sell me the car for twenty-nine hundred flat and we were in the last stages of the paperwork, Bob looked up at me and smiled.

I don’t know why. Maybe it was seeing a father with his sons, or maybe he was tired of overstating the quality of the vehicles he sold just to make a buck.

Then he did something I believe he probably had never done before.

He tried to talk me out of it.

Not aggressively. He just said, “Now, you do know the odometer reads 162,000 miles. Right?”

I was drunk on my own cleverness. I just nodded my head.

Now, Bob wasn’t a saint. He wasn’t going to push it further. He wasn’t going to be totally forthcoming. Matter of fact, it probably gave him an aching pain in the head to offer the odometer number.

But I was determined.

My sons were smiling at me. They thought the car was cool. So I drove it off the lot, pridefully believing I had struck the best deal of my life.

We had immediate problems with it.

I called Bob back. He had forgotten how wonderful our interaction had been and was back to being “Bob the Car Dealer” at his dealership.

I took the car in to have it checked out and found out the vehicle had been in a flood, and therefore the electrical system was contorted, and the engine had water in the oil.

I drove that car for exactly three months. It was a classic case of being beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside.

One night, coming home on the freeway, it caught fire and burned up a goodly portion of the engine.

My complete stupidity and arrogance had played out.

But I always gave Bob from the dealership, grace points because some creeping spider of conscience forced him to offer a kind, but unheeded, warning.

Chief

Chief: (n) a leader or ruler of a people or clan.

I’m about to date myself. (I sure hope I bring me flowers…)

What I mean is, I’m going to make reference to something–and anyone born after the millennium will have no idea what I’m talking about.

Long, long ago on a planet not so far away, there was a T.V. show called Superman. Yes, the Superman we’re all familiar with.

But this was low-budget, shot in black and white, with a Superman who had to hold his stomach in a lot.

The editor of the newspaper, you may remember, was Perry White. He was constantly plagued by a young cub reporter named Jimmy Olson. (Now, if you remember any of this, you’re either a big superhero geek, or you’ve just been dated, too.)

Jimmy Olson aggravated Perry White by calling him “Chief.” Perry White would bark at him, “Don’t call me Chief!”

It was a bit of comic relief in a show that needed some relief from somewhere.

But as I think about it today, we may desperately be in need of people who don’t want to be called “chief.” We come up with all sorts of synonyms and titles for jobs that make individuals feel they are important and powerful. We seem obsessed with the notion that even though we’re human, somehow or another–at least occasionally–we’re omnipotent.

We want to dominate. We want to control. We want to be respected, revered and maybe even feared.

We’ve lost the awareness that power merely brings responsibility. Somehow or another, we think being called “chief” requires less of us instead of more. I don’t know how we arrived at this–I guess it’s the notion that if we can order underlings around, we need never do anything ourselves, because even if they fail, we have someone to blame.

In the process, we’ve lost a valuable piece of humanity: the desire to serve.

You see, if we serve, that would make us “servers,” which means we’re hustling for tips instead of owning the restaurant.

Somewhere along the line, we need to sprout a new crop of leaders who have gained their prowess by learning how to be of service to others.

Otherwise we will continue to have ignorant chiefs who don’t understand the product, but are in charge of the board meeting.

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