Scott has this story on his site. It both touched me and made me think about a number of things. He makes some good points at the end. I just can't seem to stop thinking about it. So, here it is:
so you wanna be a ...mailman?
Tony Campolo, tells about a friend of his who made a career change. He says, "Some years ago, a friend of mine went to teach English literature at a state college. He was there for three weeks when he went into the dean's office to say that he was quitting.
"I'm not coming back next week, and I thought you ought to know," he said. The dean replied, "If you walk out on your contract, you're not going to teach here again. What's more, you won't teach anywhere, if I can help it."
Campolo goes on with the story, saying: After my friend left his job, his mother contacted me by phone and said I had to see him. She was sure he had gone crazy and hoped I could talk him into going back to his job.
I found my friend Charlie living in an attic apartment in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. I must admit that his apartment had a certain style: travel posters all over the walls, a good assortment of books scattered around the room, and the stereo playing a Wagnerian opera. I sat down in a beanbag chair that swallowed me up. After we exchanged niceties, I came to the point.
'What have you done?" I asked.
"I quit," said Charlie. "I walked out. I don't want to teach anymore. Every time I walked into that classroom, I died a little bit."
Campolo says: I could understand him. I'm a teacher, and I know what it's like to go into a class and pour out your heart to students, to let every nerve inside you tingle with the excitement of your most profound insights. I know what it's like to passionately share the struggles of your existence, to lay your soul bare in an attempt to communicate your deepest feelings. Then, when it's all over, some student in the back ofthe room raises his hand and says, "Do we have to know this stuff for the final?" (We have some teachers here who know that feeling! I'm sure Jesus must have experienced that plenty when He was teaching!)
Anyway, Campolo goes on, saying: It wasn't long before I realized that Charlie was not about to go back into the classroom, so I asked him what he was doing with himself these days. He said, "l'm a mailman."
Reaching back into the value system provided by the Protestant work ethic, I said to him, "Charlie, if you're going to be a mailman, be the best mailman in the world!"
He said, "But I'm a lonely mailman. Everybody else who delivers mail gets back to the post office by about two o'clock. I never get back until six."
"What takes you so long?"
"I visit," said Charlie. "You'd never believe how many lonely people there are on my route who had never been visited until I became a mailman. What's more, now I can't sleep at night."
"Why can't you sleep at night?"
Charlie cried, "Have you ever tried to sleep after drinking fifteen cups of coffee?"
Campolo says: As I sat and looked at my friend Charlie, I envied him. He was alive with the excitement that comes to a person doing something meaningful with his life. Because he moved from being a college professor to being a mailman, he has lost status. But what difference does that make? As Charlie invests himself significantly in the lives of other people, his is finding fulfillment in, as Scripture says in James 1:27, 'visiting orphans and widows in their distress."
Is he a role model? Let’s be honest… no way. Ya like all our mom’s are telling their kids – you know, you should quit school and become a mailman… no way, it’s a great story but we want our kids to emulate rich successful people. Every mom wants their kid to be a doctor right?
Here’s a question no one ever asks… why? Why the heck do they want their kid to be a doctor… to help people? That’s the standard answer but its crap. Tons of people help others more than doctors for a lot better reasons... and a lot less money.
It’s security, wealth, status… a lot of reasons.
When we think of role models who do you think of? Tiger Woods/Gretsky/ lady Di?
There is something wrong with a world that has to look to television to find role models/ or professional sports/ or royalty. It’s all wacked.
I find it interesting that so many of us buy into a cultural ideal of success without even questioning why. we succumb to this subtle warping of our minds till we are unable to see the world for what it is. Martin Buber said that there are really two worlds at work in our minds - the phenomenal and the numenal. The world that we perceive and the way that actually is.
i wonder if our radar gets so stunted by cultural morays that we become what we hate. we read the great works of religion and literature, hear the fabulous stories of warriors of long ago and wish we could emulate them... then settle for the thursday special at McDonalds. It's not that i have a problem with McDonalds (except as a food source), it's just that i know in my own life i want to take the path or least resistence, the "no pain great gain" option. I constantly get sucked into the world's molds of success and happiness, then wonder why I am neither...