You Just Never Know

Posted on: March 6, 2019, by :

I enjoy the musings of John Blase – poet, pilgrim, questioner, gentle cynic. Today I reprint his latest column (with apologies for the language!) because it resonates with my journey and, you just never know, perhaps also with yours.

I suppose I could take a StrengthsFinder test. But one of my ‘strengths’ is that I’m a contrarian, so I buck against that. Yet I have been noodling on my strong points lately, trying to line up a vision of dominoes, so to speak, for some things I’d like to do in the second half of my life, which in a very real sense means the person I want to finish up as. My hope being that an “infinitely tender hand” (Rilke) would tip one or two of those dominoes, and a chain reaction would result moving me closer to the man I’d rather be.

My recent noodlings have brought these thoughts to the surface, in no particular order. Trust me, there are more than three, but I only list these today, sort of a two or three gathered together mentality, if you know what I mean.

  1. I’m a decent speaker, as in before a group of people. I’m comfortable doing it, and furthermore I enjoy doing it especially if the topic I’ve been asked to speak on is one of the things I love (faith, family, creativity, creation, writing, poetry, food, music, books, film, … …). And since I am a generalist, I always end up speaking a little about all of those things. Make no mistake, I speak very specifically about things, but I’m not a specialist.
  2. I’m curious about people. I find humanity endlessly interesting. And what I’m mainly curious about is what people love. In fact, that is my favourite question to pose Tell me, what are the things you love? I’m not much, if at all, interested in what your resume reflects, for that is simply a listing of facts arranged to make us look good or competent or something. Not that facts such as your work history aren’t important, but as a poet I believe facts often have little to do with the truth (Carolyn Forche).
  3. I’m in the middle of life. I haven’t been all the way around the block, but I’ve been halfway around. I’ve seen a few things in my fifty-something years. I’m not the young pup barking at every leaf that falls in the backyard, nor am I the crotchety geezer yelling at the kids to get a job or turn the music down. I find myself in this wonderful season best described by a phrase I heard Tom McGuane spout: My give-a-shit is broke. It’s not that I don’t care about anything anymore because I very much care about a good number of things. But there are an equal number of other things, things which society or culture or wonky religious folks or some combination of all three seem to place great emphasis on that, well, I just don’t give a shit about any longer. I can’t. Mine’s broke.

So, I’m not sure what the demand is for a decent generalist speaker whose give-a-shit is broke, but you never know. I’m gambling on the wisdom of speaking/writing these things out loud and seeing how the universe responds. You just never know.

What do you think? With what do you resonate? What strengths would be on your list? You can find John Blase at if you want to explore further.

David Brooker.

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