Perspective: The Firehose of Life

It’s amazing how the perspective into which a person is born – pervades, lingers, exists. It’s almost as if it carries a life, a story all it’s own that needs a biological expression. Sometimes it pervades a person’s entire lifetime if not caught, realized, or exposed earlier in life. That stream occupies all of the attention until, as we hear with regret, upon the deathbed a person realizes they had choices they couldn’t see because of that stream that occupied their life – that job or career or legacy or getting their name on that trophy or fooling those people. The list goes on and on.

We commonly look at a human being as an independent masterpiece created from its mind, its talents and ability to transform itself into something more than the common person. One becomes a lawyer. Another a doctor. Another a banker, a school teacher or scientist. On occasion one becomes a famous person, a star or celebrity. Oh and we shouldn’t leave out the common, regular person who lives an un-noticed life – maybe one who fathers or mothers a child, or another two or even three human beings without attracting a whole lot of attention.

Then there’s a rock star or someone with some exceptional ability that gets noticed. They may be elevated in life to a high level of upper society. There are those who perform and are paid quite handily to do so. Dance this way or that way for a buck. Sing this note, that pattern that everybody loves, over and over again.  Smile for me please, one more time.

For some of us life happens like we’re constantly, every day and night getting hit in the face with a heavy stream of water from a firehose.

A young, beautiful and smart lady gave me that analogy once when her new boyfriend suddenly became the father of the life inside her belly. She’d been on a promising track of prominence running with the sharks and wolves of wall-street, in private equity circles. She was advising a lost soul from Peru and partnering with him to start a nursery here in Austin. As I gave them a free-consult just as I’ve given a number of the elite businessmen who I’ve come across a free-ride, I pointed out to them that neither of them had any experience with local plants or foliage. Perhaps it would be wise to partner up with someone who knew what works here in Central Texas. The plants won’t be impressed with a sexy, beautiful banker and a kind-hearted shaman of a man wanting to build homes for people in Central Texas from natural growth like he’d grown up around back in Peru. Maybe the market would be impressed with her and him … but I’m something of a fundamentalist taht way … it would seem they would need an actually history to sell homes that build themselves organically. But who am I to say. Obey your propaganda…

Looking back on that conversation is kind of like looking back on my major life turns. I’m not so sure it was ever about what I thought it was about. My children, of course, being an exception. They did not emerge from my mind. They seemed more real than the hopes and dreams, the businesses and the discussions and plans, the movies and the achievements that others defined me by, or talked about when they reflected or explained Mark to someone in their life.

Aside from my three children, a wife and two other long-term relationships with ladies and their five children, my life seems to have bumped against an iron ceiling – not that my calling has been easy for anyone in my personal life to understand, accept or support.

I recently saw an interview of an economist on Bloomberg who caught my attention. He was unusual. Looking further, I found an article about some of his work. He is a fancy, quite educated person – probably my age or slightly older. He’s spent a lifetime opining on economics and the history of mankind around the world (mostly over the past 400 years). He’s determined most of us have not really benefited all that much from all the HUGE improvement and discoveries of mankind. An elite few have profited immensely. Quite frankly, I’m glad I had and raised those kids in ignorance to what I know, or think I know now. They saw me bump into things and get back up to try again – but the important thing is that they were watching and are wiser for it.

For me, my water canon was running strong since birth, casting me from a small town where I avoided the easy life, turning to the world and global economy to see what I’ve seen, survive what I’ve survived, learn what I’ve learned. Maybe it was my own firehose that was pushing me along. Or maybe it was my pursuit or quest, my calling. But it did seem outside me – something external. But as I looked to others I saw nothing that paralleled my experience of life. I felt all alone as life was gushing into my face. Today I still feel like a tumbleweed sometimes. I’m not really tired. People say I should be. I’m just amused. No longer shocked or in dismay.

I sit here on a Sunday afternoon and see Jimmy Johnson, the legendary football coach turned commentator, commenting on the NFL games with such vigor. It seems like just yesterday he was in my parents living room with another famous coach putting a convincing argument before me to come and play ball for him. 

I have story upon story of the firehose casting me into situations with others like this white haired American celebrity. Time and time again I found myself on the street after getting these guys’ ventures off the ground. If you read DeLong’s “Slouching Toward’s Utopia”, you may understand exactly what I ran into in 2009, 2010 and 2012 – the economics and the plutocracy at work. The iron ceiling was exactly what the stream fueling me needed to hit to allow me to see myself. I was never going to conform to the good old boys club. The lawyers and psychologists spotted that as soon as they saw into how smoothly I led others, put offices together and made multi-million dollar acquisitions. The other side of my brilliance was a hollow heart for their enterprise, lifestyle and affluence. They needed someone who was more a friend of the family, so to speak. So I don’t blame them necessarily, as much as I hold my self responsible for adhering to my calling, my path – which I did, have and am doing.

So yesterday I stumbled into another “new” piece of work based on the double slit work. Three physicists recently found recognition by the Nobel foundation for telling us – or me, I’m not so crazy after all, i.e. that time and space don’t really exist like the majority of folks claim it does. 

The mainstream is actually waking up to consider how little we know, how little control we actually have over our lives, our health and future. The stories they tell around this pioneering work mirrors that of several ancient masters who didn’t really know how to communicate what they’d uncovered in life or how to do it safely.  But how ever it all works, it may not actually matter. Whether we trust or distrust ourselves or each other may not be the matter. But what does matter is that we feel safe. 

Try using your imagination. How could safety could be re-cast? How could it be transformed? Realize that some things just are. They are only jeopardy in our stories and the illusions passed down – perhaps into these metaphorically powerful streams of water that draw our focus – that heighten our fears. Our hearts do indeed hold the key to our peace, love and dignity no matter what we are told or how strong the current pulls our focus away and distracts us with the perils of life.

Published by Mark Roach

Mark Roach is creative businessman, artist, actor, writer, producer, engineer and executive.

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