Monday, January 12, 2009

40 Acres and a Mule???

I was in the office to visit my “still current manager”, John V. Sims. Honestly, if any of you ever get a chance to meet John – you will find that he is a top-flight guy. John is an outstanding man, a graduate of the Naval Academy, and even though as he knows, I am not normally a fan of military academy grads – I am a huge fan of JVS. How many of you can say that you’re a huge fan of the guy who “let you go”? Well, in any case, I can – John is a great guy to work with or for; a great family man, a great American, and a guy that I am damn proud to know. John and I had a very productive meeting in which we talked about not only the future direction of the company; but even took time to discuss the future direction of yours truly, old Mike Roberts. John was extremely helpful in helping me gussy-up my resume – as I get ready to go into the future, “whatever it may be”.

Most of the time when we John and I meet, we share a cup of “Joe” (a cup of Joe is coffee, for those of you young sprouts). The phrase “cup of Joe” comes from Josephus Daniels, who when he was Secretary of the Navy, had all the booze taken off U.S Naval Vessels. Because of this,coffee became the strongest drink allowed aboard ship. And hence the phrase, “how bout a cup of Joe”. That would be a picture of Josephus just to right on your browser. Both John and I like coffee, and my greatgrandfather and grandfather both retired Navy. Dad kind of fouled things up by getting involved in a branch of the Navy, the United States Marine Corps. Still, John and I get along great.

Anyway, after our meeting I visited a few of my other buddies in the office, and found myself with my buddy Chris McAfee and my boss, John Sims on the elevator going down for lunch at the same time. I said to Chris looking at John, “Chris, right over there is my Abraham Lincoln. That is the man that set me free from my chains here at IP.”

We all laughed, – IP is anything but a slave driving outfit. The reality of my situation, is that I am a round peg, who was trying to fit in a square box for a long time. John and I both understand this – and that is why I feel so much better now that I am out exploring opportunities. On the other-hand;

This discussion of Abe Lincoln and emancipation kind of gave me a different perspective. Try this one out, imagine how the slaves must have felt when the “Emancipation Proclamation” was issued? I’ll bet they were not a lot different from me. The first response is “Thank God I am out of this mess.” But the second response could easily be “Oh My God, what am I going to do now?” I can’t speak for those freed in 1865, but in my case the 40 acres offered me is “the whole world to choose from” but looking at it another way, “I am the mule and the mule operator” and me and the mule have to decide which way to go and what to plow. And whatever, me and the mule come up with – we gotta "learn to live with it or live without it” as my dear old pappy used to say.

And its not just where and what to plow; but what seeds to plant, and how to get seeds and pay for them? So am I free? Yes, I am free to choose what’s next and free to achieve the rewards or accept the consequences for my choices. Honestly, I think there maybe a lot of misunderstanding of "freedom" in this country. A famous Texas Blues Singer, Janice Joplin, sang these words (but fellow Texan Kris Krisopherson wrote them) "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose", but that is a negative way to look at life. A better way to phrase it is "Freedom is just another word for lots of things to choose, and everything to gain".
Here's hoping that all of your choices lead to happy consequences and....

Thanks a lot Abraham and John; you too Kris and Janice,

All the best,

1 comment:

  1. Forty acres and a mule maybe just what you need in these times. But, be sure and get those acres where you would have access to rain or water. Grow your own pinto beans and taters. What a deal! Thanks for the history on the "cup of Joe"...history is always interesting to me.