Have you ever read Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad? No? Well, you should. I read it years ago and I still think of it. The aspect of the novel that haunts me so much is Jim’s reaction when he is finally faced with a situation where he must act in an honourable way regardless of the consequences to his personal safety. He is first mate on board a ship carrying muslim pilgrims to Mecca. The ship founders, and, instead of helping the pilgrims to safety, the crew abandons ship, including Lord Jim, leaving the pilgrims to their fate. I think of this often. What will I do when the moment comes when I will have a chance to “prove my quality” as Captain Faramir says in the Return of the King. What is my quality?
This question haunts me. Because I am not sure my quality is that hot. I think, in general, I am pretty average in that my life is ruled by cowardice and timidity. Okay, that’s a bit strong. The word cowardice when I use it to describe myself makes me wince. Did I not, just recently, adamantly put my foot down to Mister Insurance man about giving my friends name to him (of course, that battle is not over- let us hope for my friends’ sake that I stand my ground)? Doesn’t this count?
Hopefully, if my child is facing the monstrous shovel of the snowplow barreling blindly towards her, I will be able to have the courage to push her out of the way.
Hopefully, I will be able to have the courage to pull them out of school if it continues to erode my daughter’s self-esteem. This would mean going against the current way of thinking, quitting my job, finding another way to make money and, well, having them at home all the time.
Hopefully, I will be able to have the courage to remain reasonable with my children at the expense of my own personal power trips. This means letting them make a mess when the only reason I don’t want them to practice potion making is because I don’t want to clean up again.
Hopefully, I will be able to work up enough focus, energy and strength to work for what I really want. This means not being tempted by a higher paying job chained to a long commute but working towards making a living by writing. By staying at home and not having to deal with a commute (by far the worst part of my day-unless I walk and then that is just pleasant. But then I feel guilty for taking so long and not being at home to be with my kids.)
Hopefully…. I will be able to finally give the biggest slice of cake away instead of keeping it for myself (I am very greedy.) Although this might be kind in an accidental way…
Lord Jim is all about the hope we all carry that there is at least an inkling of greatness or honour or dignity within us. I have that hope. If only I could live up to it.