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Friday, March 29, 2013

I, Compass


I have to confess, I was a terrible Cub and Boy Scout.  I liked the camping, but spent little if any time on earning merit badges.  And, I’m cursed with what my family has called, “Lewis Anti-Directional Syndrome”.  The simple explanation is that we get lost.  A lot.  In fact, if you ask my wife and kids, they’ll say that I get lost in parking lots.  No joke and no exaggeration.  You will be pleased to know that I can, relatively speaking . . . more or less, tell East from West and North from South.  Again, more or less.

It’s always nice to know what direction you’re headed.  I marvel at those who just seem to know where they’re going and know nineteen different ways to go there.

Yet, there is another meaning to the word “Compass” that is overlooked and not necessarily thought about much.

In Mr. Holland’s Opus, the principal tracks down Holland and says with a bit of disgust and frustration, “A teacher has two jobs.  Fill young minds with knowledge, and give those minds a compass so that knowledge doesn’t go to waste.”  I like to broaden this to not just teachers, but to any adult, any mentor, any person who works with kids in any capacity.  Coaches.  Scout Masters and Den Mothers.  Parents.  I think each of us needs to consider the weight of this statement.

I think we do a pretty good job of filling minds with knowledge.  I wonder, though, do we give kids a Compass?  Are we giving the kids the ethical and moral guidance they need?  Are we giving kids the care, time, love, and concern they need in order to learn what needs to be learned?  Do we love them?

Thinking back to various adults in my life, they taught me more than the ‘stuff’ they were supposed to teach.  They taught me to use that ‘stuff’ constructively, lovingly, for the purpose of furthering myself and others around me.  Hopefully I do that and will continue to do that.  To me, it’s a life-long charge, not a one and done deal.

The players Johnny Wooden coached talk more about Wooden being a person and mentor than him as their coach.  They might remember this season or that season.  They might remember the record for a season or trophies won.  But, more than anything else, they can go into detail on what he meant to them as a person, as a team.  They speak of his character, his words, his example, how he treated them, spoke with them.  Same for Norm Sloan and Al McGuire. 

Take a minute and think of your favorite or best teacher. 

Chances are you remember not the calculus problem or the significance of this battle or that event.  Instead, a smile crosses your face and you think of what that person meant to you, did for you, did with you.  And, I’m willing to bet that even though it was years ago, the memory is as fresh today as it was ‘back then’.

I, Compass.

Helen Keller wrote, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

If we take seriously and literally this statement, we can, and should, be a Compass for those around us.  We can and should make a difference in the lives of kids.  Certainly for children, but not just for children.  We can and should be a Compass for each other.  We can and should make a difference in the lives around us.

It’s nice to know where you are and where you’re going.  It’s nice to have and to be able to use a Compass.  How much better it is to be a Compass.  I, Compass.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe