My daughter and I watch a modern Western crime drama called “Longmire” on Netflix. No binging … just a couple of episodes a couple of times a week. There certainly is a lot of crime in Sheriff Walt Longmire’s little corner of Wyoming.
Crime dramas are more my daughter’s fare than mine, but I must admit to finding myself intrigued by the characters and plots.
A recent episode portrays Walt’s quirky process of hiring a new deputy. He requires the ten or so applicants to read Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men, and discuss it.
Zach admits to being a slow reader and hasn’t finished the book in time for the group discussion.
At the shooting range, Walt gives his “Ready, set, fire.” All except Zach fire at their targets.
Zach’s target is shaped like a bear. He explains, “You said to treat this as the real thing. At this distance, the bear is no threat to me and I prefer not to shoot it.”
Walt narrows his selection to two men. Despite these seemingly two strikes against him, Zach makes the cut. Walt isn’t sure either of them are right for the job but invites them into his office for a final conversation. After his competitor storms out of the room, Zach responds to Walt’s inquiry about his medical history.
He describes an incident occurring a few years previously. He and his brother were walking down a street and the next thing he knew he’s in the hospital with three gunshot wounds and his brother is dead. A friend of Zach’s brother’s introduced him to Tai Chi and it saved his life.
Walt asks, “How so?”
It is then that wisdom flows.
Zach says, “I learned in church to love my enemies. Tai Chi taught me to love the enemy inside myself.”
He went on, “I don’t look at peace as the absence of conflict anymore. I see it as the acceptance of conflict.”
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you … ~John 27a
As he stands to leave, sure he isn’t going to be hired, he places the copy of Of Mice and Men on Walt’s desk and says he finished reading it and is glad he did.
Walt asks him how he would have handled the ending of that story. Zach explains, highlighting his preference for dealing with issues before they become too big to handle, as happened in the book.
Needless to say, he got the job.
I just love it when I find wisdom in unexpected places.
Pondering Zach’s Wisdom for Me
Acceptance is a lesson presented to me early in my involvement (mid 1980s) in 12-Step programs … beginning with the very first line of the Serenity Prayer …
“God, grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change,
Because of my commitment to behave with love toward my daughter (the cognitive deficits of her disease being what cannot be changed), I search for television programs we can enjoy together.
Her life centers on playing games on her iPad, keeping up with the lives and loves of musicians and entertainers, and watching genres on television that hold little interest for me. She has no interest in the activities that enrich my life.
The droning on of life with someone with whom it is impossible to connect in meaningful ways produces inner conflict.
This loneliness is not what I want for my life. Pandemic’s physical distancing takes a toll … my mood rides a roller coaster of ups and downs. As I write, I am on a downward slope. Writing helps. But on this past beautiful holiday weekend, I would rather have been spending time with friends … in person.
Contemplative writing is a way I pray … Labor Day for PEACE in the midst of my inner storm.
A memory emerges of the relief I felt in the early 80s after reading the first line in M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled … “Life is difficult.” Life got easier when the truth of my experience was validated.
Perhaps today my mood will lift and I will return to inner peace as I endeavor to apply Zach’s wisdom to my life … “I see PEACE as the ACCEPTANCE of conflict.”
I return once again to ACCEPTANCE … accepting what I cannot change.
Accepting life on life’s terms … loving the part of me that longs for different terms … the enemy within.
… to change the things I can …
Me and my attitude!
and the Wisdom to know the difference.”
I return to mySELF.
PS: Zach’s tenure as deputy sheriff did not proceed peacefully. Looks like he has another opportunity to learn wisdom. Isn’t that just the way life is?!?