Be the best creature you were made to be

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 6/5/20

Somewhere it must be written that newspaper offices have to be cluttered.

Notice I said “cluttered,” not “sloppy” or even “messy.” There’s a vast difference in those words although …

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Be the best creature you were made to be

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Somewhere it must be written that newspaper offices have to be cluttered.

Notice I said “cluttered,” not “sloppy” or even “messy.” There’s a vast difference in those words although at times they can go together.

I know that in today’s electronic and digital publishing world things are vastly different from what they were when I cut my newspaper teeth in the Dark Ages, when we used hot metal and gallons of ink. Then it was hot work and you often got dirty in the pressroom. Reporters usually had stacks of paper and notes and notebooks and pens on their desks, on the floor, on shelves and seemingly floating in the air.

While that was OK at the office, a problem could arise when you took that mindset home. To my eternal gratitude, my much better half has never seriously objected to that illness in my life. Sometimes she will sigh or even roll her eyes but she mostly lets me wallow in the stuff that is collected in the room we refer to as my “study.”

I say all of that to say this: In the period of time we have lately called “sheltering in place,” I have used some of that time to plow through stacks and boxes of stuff I have accumulated over the past 40-plus years or so. And the truly amazing thing is that some of that “stuff” is as applicable in today’s world as it was when it first saw the light of day and was then relegated to a place in the stacks.

Case in point: a little story I had penned for a 35-year-ago church newsletter about a group of animal friends. It seemed to make perfect sense to me in this day and age of response to the virus that has plagued society for months and whose fallout is still with us as various folks gripe about why everyone isn’t acting in the same way they act.

Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Stay home. Get out. On and on it goes until folks lose their tempers or even worse.

Consider this thought... A group of animals decided to improve their general welfare by starting a school. The subjects included swimming, running, climbing and flying.

The duck, an excellent swimmer, was deficient in other areas so he majored in climbing, running and flying, much to the detriment of his swimming.

The rabbit, a superior runner, was forced to spend so much of his time in other classes that he soon lost much of his famed speed. The squirrel, who had previously been rated “A” as a climber, dropped to a “C” because his instructors spent hours and hours trying to teach him to swim and fly. And the eagle was disciplined for soaring to the tops of trees when he had been told to climb, even though flying was most natural to him.

This little story shows what often happens in society. Each person has a gift; many people have several. But everyone has at least one at which they’re particularly good. Our gifts differ. Some of us, however, try to do so many things that we lose our effectiveness in our most qualified area and as a result, the entire group — church, work, society — suffers.

Christianity encourages us to use the gifts we have and if there’s ever been a time society needs the best of all of us, it’s now — to overcome a virus, terror in the streets, hatred galore.

It shouldn’t distress us that someone else may do something better than we can do it. If God made you a duck, then you’re a duck. And you can swim. So, swim, friend...and swim like mad! But don’t get all bent out of shape because you waddle when you run. Remember: you’re a swimmer, not a runner.

And remember, too, if you’re an eagle, stop expecting all the rabbits to fly like you do or the squirrels to build a nest like yours. When they’re running or climbing, they’re using their gifts to do their own thing.

Remember, it’s the variety of gifts that makes the group effective. So, animals everywhere...find your own gifts — and use them.

Glad I saved that scrap of paper those many years ago. Hope I can remember the lesson. Hope you will, as well.


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