OK, so this was written three or four years ago when I worked in the business department of a nursing home. The administration held leadership conferences, and I wanted to very much be a part of it. I wanted to read the books, and I wanted to take the course. I wanted to prove to myself, my peers, and my boss that I could fucking do this. I was so adamant about it that I made my final presentation before I even was considered.
My boss, Christine, always asked our crew in meetings: Who would like to be a part of this leadership seminar? I always raised my hand; however, it was those who never raised their hand that got called upon. This really pissed me off to the point where I mentally pushed myself to be a better person. Granted, the learning is still taking place, and–similarly to everyone else, I will continue to learn to the day that I die.
So, here is the speech that I had written. There was a PowerPoint that I prepared to accompany this, but I can’t incorporate that. You’ll have to use your imagination. Yes, God forbid.
After reading this through, I come across as ridiculous, and I do not mind that one bit. I love being ridiculous.
Do I hold it against my boss that I never was chosen? Yes. But that is neither here nor there. I definitely don’t hate her for it, though. She essentially made me a better person. This is for you, boss:
“Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings.” – Evan Esar
How many people have been to the zoo? How many enjoy the penguins? The lions and tigers? The bears? The primates and the people? The zoo is one of the few places where you can see people in their true form. Granted it’s another public place, so what’s the big difference between studying people at the mall, one of the more clichéd popular places, with those attending the zoo? You have basis for comparison. The person in rare form is alone in the car, singing away, windows up or windows down, it doesn’t matter to them. Those with the windows up obviously are the more conservative and/or least confident. However, not everyone sings and comparing deadpan stares isn’t the least bit fun. The person will think you’re the bigger weirdo if they catch you staring at them. Yet, you can compare those by frustration; they are noticeably yelling, throwing the bird, or slamming their hands repeatedly upon the steering wheel.
The zoo has many angles to compare humans from. I’m also using the term primatesopenly, because as homo sapiens, historically, we are of the same genealogical lineage. I’m not preaching evolution, for it’s a dangerous topic. Here’s the situation: you are at the zoo and you notice several things. One child is crying due to the lions getting too close to the Plexiglas. A father is endlessly complaining about how the prices are ridiculous and his wife tells him to knock it off. A second child is throwing a hissy fit, because she is unable to ride one of the ponies. I have been to the zoo thrice times since my last visit in 2001. In that high school trip, I had an incident with an elephant and a goat. The next trip, I had an out with the mandrills, those monkeys with the red butts. The third was only simple observation. The last time, the lions had me going.
Needless to say, I need to be kept away from the zoo. I’m an instigator, attempting to coax bad behavior out of the animals, and I have tendencies to talk to the animals. I do not speak to said animals in baby voices, but in a direct voice as if I were speaking to another human being. Going back to the statement from before, I guess I can consider you all my chimps. I mean that in the most endearing way possible. It doesn’t matter which animal cluster you look at, you think the same things. That is an ugly mole. Aren’t those bats cute? That fish is gross. Look at the bright frog! That’s a big pile of hay.
Who really asks themselves which member of this small population is the alpha? Which member of this commune is the leader? Which one is the runt? Which is the antagonist? Which one has the most potential to succeed? According to Charles Darwin, if I remember my studies from college—I failed evolution, by the way—an individual, or species for that matter, is considered successful when they have reached a mature or adult stage and have procreated. They will have endured the pressures of society and beaten the odds, whatever they may be.
For humans, this is true, but fortunately for us it’s more complex. This is, also, my opinion. Hence, the new, but not-so-newly, adapted concept Social Darwinism. Who has the ability to succeed? What does it take to succeed? Who has the ability to become successful in life, to make an impact, create some waves, and be consistent enough to make a name for themselves? We have Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine and Jacques Cousteau on one end of the success spectrum; they are benevolent persons, providing use to society. Of those who are just as successful can influence society in a negative aspect; take for instance Stalin and Hitler. Of course, these are my opinions.
As you look at the monkeys and the fish, which one would you determine to be the most successful? Which one will create difference and have those idolize them? Which one will form a coup and over through the present leader? The leader of said coup will then be deemed ruler. Following this overthrow, the remaining members of the previous coup will automatically take part in the glorified ruling class. Due to instinctual greed and the salivating desire to be number one, which member will turn traitor and form a coup of their own? It’s a vicious circle. Someone will always have a betteridea and pick up the pieces from previous mistakes. However, I am getting way too ahead of myself.
Let’s go back to talking about me. That’s a bit selfish to say, but I know you’ll relate. I went into the Skaneateles Doug’s Fish Fry a couple months back and—if you haven’t been there—the restaurant has a fish tank near the counter. While I was waiting, I was just gazing into it, watching one fish after the other; one fish was chasing another and I couldn’t help but ask myself if it was out of aggression, because the second fish was crossing territory, or if the pursuit was driven from crazed affection, the second fish being resistant. Next thing you know, some kid pops his head up on the other side of the tank. Although their brains are anatomically the size of a pea, they understand intimidation; the fish do not know what these two humans looking into their home are capable of and they are initially scared.
The fish are scared, so they obviously have the capacity to feel and to think. Does it justify my assuming they could question what we are doing? What we could be thinking? Which human, the little one or the bigger, is more powerful? Which is to be feared most? Of course. I obviously know I’m no threat, not a leader to overtake the fish community, but I am not capable of understanding the threat of the child. Sure, he could be innocent, but he could be a little devil. I could certainly be a role model to this child, however, so I have to choose my actions wisely. This kid could be the runt in school or the outgoing personality hanging upside down on the monkey bars at the zoo, emulating the chimps he had just seen with his mother yelling at him to cut it out. Hence the phrase monkey see, monkey do. He may not realize it at first, but his mother’s seemingly obnoxious, overprotective outburst created an idea in this child’s head. At first he’ll experience disappointment, because his mother’s preventing him of making a mistake, getting injured, and learning from said mistake—the butterfly effect, actions which determine the outcome of the future. Going back to that spark, several years later, that child will realize his potential, the potential to cross boundaries and awe, and he will become a congressman.
“The only way most people recognize their limits is by trespassing on them.”
– Tom Morris
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid” – Epictetus
My name, in case you don’t know me, is Christopher Malone. I’m a son, a brother, a friend, an enemy, a coworker, a nice guy, and a complete jerk. I am grateful to have the education I have had and appreciate the way my parents brought me up, finally realizing and accepting the fact they were right about a lot of things. I am happy of the friends I have made and have lost with the emotional and physical pain I have gone through. Although I am only twenty-five, I still have a long life to look foreword to. I cannot wait to fall in love—finally—and continue to ever make countless amounts of errors, being comforted with the fact I will learn from them.
“I never let schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
“Believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life.” – W.E.B. Du Bois
I’m not a leader, but I wouldn’t consider myself the runt of the pack. I continually make rookie mistakes, and I still get agitated, but not as easily as I used to. I’ve learned to pick up the pieces as I live on, some pieces being much larger than other pieces, and I have to make several trips. I was told at high school orientation that if I dropped a pen in the hallway to forget about it, because you have to keep moving. The halls were too congested and if I were to stop, I’d be pushed over and trampled upon. A pen is a pen. Even though it may have been your most favorite pen, you’ll have others. Plus, there is a store right down the road; go buy a new one.
A mistake is a mistake. Learn from it, forget about it and move on. Life is a zoo, not only in the animal aspect, but in relevance with everyone moving about so rapidly, living their lives and that’s the basic jest. If life is a zoo, it must be a nightmare. There is no time for anything when you look at the big picture. You get home from work, find dinner whether you cook it yourself or order out, do whatever has to be done as far as running errands and chores, settle down for a little bit only to realize you’re giving yourself forty-five minutes before you get to sleep. This is what a single person may go through. If you have children, a whole other chunk of time is used helping them out with homework or getting them ready to start the day and end the night; as a child, I never considered my parents and what they were doing. My brother and I definitely wore them out.
“Sometimes you have to lose yourself ‘fore you can find anything.”
– Burt Reynolds, Deliverance
I was reading the other night; it had gotten dark and I thought it was a lot later than eight-thirty. How do I have time for anything? How will I make time for anything? I’m one person. How can I take on greater responsibility? I can’t fathom how I would maintain a relationship. I like my free time, reading and especially writing, but I know my instincts of wanting to be around the girl—if she was something special. As a member of the proletariat, how can I be more? I’m not a peon by any means. I’m not a leader by any means either, just yet. I mean—wait.
Hold on. I said yet. Do I really have the potential to be a leader? Obviously, I do. I had the audacity to say yet. Sure, anyone does. I have the ability to spontaneously jump on stage to say my name, to play my guitar in a setting where one would normally not, and speak comfortably in front of a group of people. Sometimes spontaneity, under pressure or simple gut instinct, is beneficial. It was a rush when I got on stage, said hello, and said who I was. After I got off stage, I did ask myself what I had done, but I felt great about it. I know everyone is different, but when I mill about something, like asking out the cute girl that just happens to work down the hall, I choke up and stutter my thoughts—not words—trip over my words, and I fail. When I’m in the clear, I kick myself in the butt, because I’m good like that.
“Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics, because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.” – Edith Sitwell
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”- Jack Kerouac
I have gotten jealous over the fact I have not been a participant in the leadership seminars. There, I said it. Yet. As a former education major, currently a re-aspiring one, I believe in something called constructivism; hands-on learning or teaching with activities that pertain to what is being learned. Science teachers have it easy; they have lab sessions. Anyone outside of the education profession has it much harder. How can I incorporate more interest into an office setting, perhaps? I’m not brown nosing, so you can get that thought out of your heads, but I’m being more objective. I am a nerd when I say the leadership activities are incredibly beneficial.
I never really enjoyed the old meetings, mainly because I was absolutely petrified of what was to be brought to our attention and if I was going to be called on to put my thoughts in. Now, take this moment into account, I don’t want to shut up; I want to put in my thoughts when I feel like I have something to say. It may not seem like I’m progressing in our department; but I feel I am. I’ve had a better attitude and if you’re with me outside work, I’m pretty much the same, just a little more obnoxious, for lack of a better term. I talk to a lot of people, even if they are at the newsstand. Every weekend, I go out to lunch at the same place and I have been talking to this random gentleman, who originated from Scotland. I don’t know if he’s spewing me nonsense, but when he spoke of his late wife and his son, who he speaks of in the past tense, his face became flushed. I don’t know if he’s a great actor, but whatever. Conversation is conversation and he has not posed a threat to me.
I accept my potential. I take responsibility for this talk. I chose to just go with my instincts. Christine told me to find a quote and to run with it. I did, but I get carried away. I go with my instincts, but I don’t necessarily follow through. I have everyone to blame, especially everyone here—not just coworkers, but my peers—for pushing me to do so, defining constructive criticism and encouragement. At Loretto, I don’t think one day passes where someone blatantly asks or alludes to the question of what I will do with my life. It’s not annoying. Thank you. I have never worked with an eclectic group of people before. At college there were thousands of people, but this work is more condensed and fortunately as diverse.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has their niche. In essence, everyone is a leader. To be honest, I don’t like the word, nor title, leader. In reference to what I wrote before, it’s a dangerous title. How about a mentor? This classification in general terms, is not as ranked as leader, but it means the same thing. I’m no better than anyone. I want to be more. I’m here to make people nervous. What will I do next? What will I say? What about everyone else? What will they do, or say?
We all work and associate with one another everyday. We should be comfortable around each other, right? Maybe, maybe not. You can speak about something you know. Just be yourself. I love it how everyone is anxious to get up and do a two-minute dissertation on why our department needs us. As reluctant as people were, they still went through with it. They did a great job. Those speaking can toot their own horn. Rub it in my face that you do this and that, but just be objective about it; it’s more power to you. Have fun.
I got nervous when Michelle rapped, because I wouldn’t have done that. Carolyn with her poem—I can’t do poetry worth my life. Lynn spoke in front of Sully and Mitch—awesome. Everyone was sincere about it. You all took initiative; don’t leaders take initiative? I’m sorry—we work gradually—mentor. In these past couple months, everyone has taken initiative. I know specifics, but I’ll let everyone think hard about it. I can tell you why I think you’re important, but where is the fun in that? The first step is realizing your potential for yourself.
“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Go to the zoo. Go to the aquarium. If you stare hard enough, you’ll see yourself in the glass. As kids, we could say how cool it was that it looked like we were underwater. Now, as adults, it may be an analogy, a metaphor, of our own lives, about how busy we are and how things may or may not better. It seems like you’re drowning rather than swimming. You can joke about it like you used to, but you’re thinking is not in synch with your words. You just have to remind yourself that all you see is only a reflection.
You’re going to be fine.
“I like life. It’s something to do.” – Ronnie Shakes