Larry Banman – Step out on the high-wire from time to time
August 27, 2009
It is often noted that in a small town, people wear a lot of different hats. Much of the work is done by volunteers. That is a function, I believe, of a lack of resources and that more isolated areas are attractive to the roll-up-your-shirtsleeves crowd. As a result, people are sometimes pressed into action in an area in which they may not be comfortable.
The part that fascinates me is how people react to those situations. I think a part of all of us wants people to take us at face value. Kind of a “you knew what you were getting when you asked me to do this” mentality. It’s nice when you have enough diversity within an organization to have people undertake the tasks and responsibilities in areas where they are comfortable.
You often hear about people getting frustrated and “burned out.” I think that happens when people get placed in positions in which they don’t feel comfortable or are having to act out of character. We can probably all relate to times when we “took one for the team” and undertook a task for which we were ill-suited.
Most of us can relate to times when we were in charge of fundraisng or we taught the junior-high Sunday school class or we coached T-ball or we made a public speech and we had no idea what we were doing. Probably no lives were lost and probably some positive things happened, but the overall effect is probably not a scrapbook of fond memories.
Other people react to those situations by a form of play acting or “taking on a role.” People who have been in dramatic performances understand what it means to “get into character” or adopting the personality and mannerisms of a character. In my own life, I officiated the secret wedding ceremony in “Romeo and Julie” as Friar Lawrence, I was the bearer of bad news in a high school drama and I delivered what the critics would call a forgettable performance as Pish-Tush in “Mikado.” In each case, I was asked to act completely out of character.
In life, I believe we adopt role-playing far more often that we realize. Think of the times when you as a parent wanted to act or react “naturally” and you pulled back as you considered the consequences on an impressionable mind. As an aside, a phony performance is quickly and easily deciphered. Any words that may proceed out of your mouth are likely overshadowed by Act I of whatever personal melodrama happened to be playing to a packed house that week.
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Some people work to overcome the hurdles that keep them from performing a necessary task. For example, the fear of public speaking ranks somewhere near the fear of snakes. Nothing can bring a person to their knees more quickly than the prospect of standing up in front of a roomful of strangers.
However, there are times when the need to present some information overcomes that fear and a public proclamation is offered. Many times a funeral produces that result as a person feels an overwhelming desire to say words of encouragement or relief or humor. It is probably part of the grieving process and is often cathartic. It also produces many of the truly heart-felt comments you will hear at a funeral.
What I have found in my own life is that learning to operate outside a comfort zone has the upside of providing rewards that can’t always be found by staying within the confines of a “no-risk” zone. There is something exhilarating about balancing on the high-wire. There is effort and often pain during the journey but the path can also lead to some unexpected blessings, some gains in life that were never anticipated.
It generally feels good when you get back to a place of comfort. If really feels good to come back to that place with the knowledge and experience gained from venturing a bit outside the lines of comfort.
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