Month: August 2014

Letter to a friend

“I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant, and all around obnoxious ass* that anyone could possibly have the misfortune to meet. I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of the happy…I am a ridiculous man, redeemed only by the warmth and constancy of your friendship.” -Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock to his friend Dr. Watson

The following appeared as my local, bi-weekly newspaper column last week:
A few months ago, I penned an article praising the modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that’s been running on PBS these last couple of years. The snippet above is part of a speech that Sherlock gave in honor of his best friend. It’s a speech a lot of loners could make, and I identified with it immediately. Some of us are not built for human interaction. John Donne said, and Thomas Merton echoed, “no man is an island.” Some of us are certainly peninsulas though. We are connected to the greater world only by a few people who understand us. Isolated, we can be hard to reach, and the terrain when you get there is hard to navigate.
It has been my good fortune to have a number of links to the mainland over the years. My friends are like the marines: the few, the proud. They have to be willing to take a good bit of fire, and they’re usually outnumbered. I’ve been mocked and ridiculed most of my life, but those treasured few have stood by me. When I started writing this little “Saturday newsletter,” (that’s what the detractors call it) it was no different. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s out of place. What started as a way to combat disinformation about my unique business model transformed into something different. Now it’s a place for me to spill my guts about the world we inhabit. I feel better putting pen to paper, and I’ve received so much encouragement from the public at large that I’ve continued. There are a lot more peninsulas out there than most people realize. Everyone feels isolated at times. My business affords me the opportunity to reach you in this way. Most people’s work doesn’t do that, or else there would be a lot more self-published opinion writers. I’ve pointed out several times that I’m better on paper than in person. In person, I’m ineloquent, impertinent, and sometimes rude. These are not my ideals, but they are the reality. They are the sum total of a man who is less than perfect. My best friend tells me that I bring my better angels with me most of the time, but she wouldn’t deny that I have darker ones as well. In business, the better angels have led for me to be praised more than I deserve by my clients. The darker ones have led me to be derided more often than I deserve by my colleagues. I’m hot or cold, but rarely lukewarm.
The prototypical loner is the American cowboy. Willie Nelson touched on it, “Them that don’t know him won’t like him, and them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him. He ain’t wrong he’s just different, and his pride won’t let him do things to make you think he’s right.” Sing it, Willie. Some of us see things differently, approach things differently, succeed and fail differently than most people. Thank God for those differences. The worst thing I can think of would be for all of us to be the same. Picasso was different. The Wright brothers were different. JFK was different. Christ was different. Those last two even got killed for their differences. That’s what the populace usually does when people color too far outside the lines. Luckily, my differences are not as monumental or notable as those of a president or deity. In business, I have used my differences to change the rules of the game in favor of the public that I serve. The other players don’t like that. That is not a problem for me. The decision was made for the benefit of the public and for me. If a few people don’t like it, that’s their problem. Same goes for this oddly placed article. I do it for my benefit and for the benefit of the readers. If you find no benefit or even feel offended, you have the right to discard my words, to put the paper down. That’s what most people do anyway. Not reading puts you firmly in the majority, which is clearly where people are most comfortable. I’ve always catered to a select minority in my business and my personal affairs. It has kept my cup running over thus far. For the redemption the few have afforded me, I say simply: Thank you.