Every Good Boy Does Fine

“There’s a labyrinth of voices inside your head, a counterpoint of self-awareness and the remembered sayings of your guides and mentors, who don’t always agree. Sometimes you wish you could go back and ask your teachers again to guide you; but up there onstage, exactly where they always wanted you to be, you must simply find your way. They have given all the help they can; the only person who can solve the labyrinth of yourself is you.”  

(From the New Yorker article, Every Good Boy Does Fine, by pianist Jeremy Denk)

Precisely seven weeks ago today was the first day of the next chapter of my professional life. I declared, both in word and deed, to myself, my family and all who would listen that I was stepping into new territory; pulled forward by the energy and possibility of the unknown…accelerated by my own evolving awareness of the limited window of opportunity to make the impact I want to make in the way I want to make it.

Sitting here in my newly fashioned home office looking out on a perfectly brilliant spring afternoon, I reflect with gratitude on my guides and mentors and how diligently, patiently and considerately they have influenced me to get to this place. I am on my own path to mastery because of them and the most important lesson they taught me: that until I learned to look within, to go below the surface of myself and wrestle with and reconcile myself to what I found there, I would continue to grant authority over my life to others rather than claiming it for myself.

I freely admit that there are days when I don’t want the freedom I have earned; that there is great temptation to bask in the guidance of those I have looked up to for so long. And, that if I hold those relationships where they are for just a little longer, I’ll eke out just a little more wisdom and just a little more confidence for the path ahead.

But that’s an old voice tempting me back to the safety of the known. And it’s much softer now. And getting softer every day.

This boy will be fine.

3 thoughts on “Every Good Boy Does Fine

  1. David, thought provoking once again. The point of internal reconciliation seems to be the point where we truly get to know ourselves and identify what is most important to us in our lives. But at what point in our lives are we ready to be able to tackle this? The wisdom of others is a great guide but I have found that living and feeling our ways down the path of life truly gives us the experience we need to wrestle this out of ourselves. Sometimes we find the courage to do this all by ourselves (choosing to leave a secure job to go out on our own or onto a new, unfamiliar opportunity) and others times we are pushed off the ledge (health issue, tragic event, unexpected layoff, etc.). What I have found is that once we reach this point in our lives, and reconcile ourselves, it is much easier to point the compass in the right direction even though we may get off course again and again along the way.

    • Erik – I love your question…at what point are we ready to look within? I can only speak from my own experience…for me it was when it got too hard not to. Maybe that’s common to a lot of people. My experience also tells me that many, many people never take a look. They might sneak up on it during one of those experiences you mention – especially a health scare – but then what? Does it stick? Does the motivation to change, learn, grow stick around? The research on change suggests not… I think this where this quote matters a lot: “be gentle with everyone you meet because everyone is fighting a great battle.”

  2. David- First, let me say how very good it is to :hear” your voice again. For me, your writing, and the way you have developed your craft of wrapping words around thought and meaning always speak to me at a deep level. Yesterday was a beautiful, spring day in my neck of the woods. And, as we walked out through our local wildlife refuge we were surrounded by the bluster that only comes in the springtime. One minute sunny and blue sky, the next minute dark clouds flew in… the wind was blowing and the trees were shaking. It was as if everything had come unhinged, and the safety of certainty and stability were replaced by the powerful and exhilarating force of change and possibility. That, I believe is what happens when we have the courage to let go and travel inward. New life is waiting there – scary as hell? Yes! And… life giving in a way that holding on to that which has been will neve be.

    Thank you!

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