David Geffen, of Asylum Records fame, in an interview, called Don Henley, of The Eagles fame, a “malcontent”. Their close relationship was long gone and had ended in ugly lawsuits over music rights.
I don’t know either of them to say who was right or wrong, but it dawned on me that all of us, probably at one time or another, have not been content with our lot in life… even after receiving more than our fair share of blessings.
I was accused of this very same trespass this week. She didn’t use the word, but that’s exactly what she was driving at. She thinks that sometimes, I too, am a malcontent.
She was the “go between”, caught between another person and myself, in a business negotiation. The other party referred to me as a “tough negotiator”. That’s business talk for “cheapskate”.
The other party and myself have known one another for a long time, around thirty years. I’ve known him long enough and have had enough dealings, or what they business world calls, “run -ins”, to know that he’s a tough “negotiator”…
Last week I wrote about the power of words. I was reminded how true that was again since then. T, (short for the poor lady caught between the cheapska… make that tough negotiators), told me that M, (short for the other valiant negotiator), had passed on some kind and complimentary words about me.
Of all the words she said, there was one line that caught me. And it caught me by the soul. All the kind words meant nothing because all that I could dwell on was the line that brought out the malcontent in me.
“M said you came from nothing,” T said.
I’ve lived long enough to let most of the ugly, and sometimes downright nasty, comments about me roll of my ego like water off of a duck’s back. But that one stuck in my craw.
I might have had nothing, but to say that I came from nothing insinuates that my roots aren’t worthy.
I drilled T about the comment. So much so that she concluded that M and myself were crazy and she only wanted out of being trapped in the middle between the two of us.
To say I come from nothing is to suggest that my parents are nothing.
I took the comment personally. Not for me, but for my mom and dad. You can curse and mock me, but my parents are off limits. The comment brought out the fire in me that once marked most of my days as a younger man.
Anyone that knew my dad knew he was a man of integrity. They would also know that he was a man who would stand, by himself if he had to, to protect those that couldn’t protect themselves. He was a man of God. A humble man.
It’s not a remotely exaggerated statement to say that I would be considered closer to nothing than my mom or dad. What we know is that all of us deserve nothing, but we have been shown and accepted the free gift of grace that means we’re somebody to the One whose opinion is the only One that matters.
After the third degree T explained that she’d been paraphrasing. M told her that I “started with nothing.” To those of us that pay attention to words, know that’s a far cry from “he came from nothing”.
The hard truth is that if this were a test… I failed. Even if it was out of love and respect for my folks.
I’m pondering the idea that those of us that have been given more blessings might tend to be more apt to fall into the “malcontent” category.
Sunday, February 9, 2020 @ 8:34 pm
I used to get defensive about my parents also. Recently an old time friend was “softly” telling me about how much of a screw up my dad was when it came to their friendship (Apparently he didn’t come around for a visit often enough)…and how my mom wasn’t wise enough in the early days of her marriage. I got annoyed, but then thought… well apparently this lady wasn’t around enough. There have been other times when people have knocked and even pulled me down personally. I’ve grown a hard skin through it.. meaning sticks and stones may hurt…etc.
Then I thought.. “Well how many times have I said something and it didn’t come out right?”
We learn either way…
Monday, February 10, 2020 @ 9:11 am
I love you buddy
Sunday, February 16, 2020 @ 3:49 pm
I understand your reaction, Floyd. Don’t mess with our parents or with our kids. I see a difference too between coming from nothing and starting with nothing (although that still isn’t quite accurate either). Words matter, especially to those of us who play with them often.