Thursday, April 15, 2010

People, are you ready for the show time? (Ry Cooder)

I finished that book on silence a few days ago and have just now finished another book. I love reading and I find that my thirst for books is still with me.

This one was Showing Up for Life by Bill Gates Senior. I was again killing time in I Spy bookshop in the City Center mall when this one threw itself at me. The forward to the book did it - it was by Bill Gates Junior (aka Bill Gates III, the microsoft genius) and is as follows in its entirety:
Dad, the next time somebody asks you if you are the real Bill Gates, I hope you
say, "Yes." I hope you you tell them that you're all the things the other one
strives to be.
The book is wonderful (literally). I found it warm, rewarding, thought-provoking and challenging. Challenging? Yes - because I strive to also be all the things that my father was. It's a real challenge. Reading this book made me realise I still have a long way to go but I'm prepared to make the journey (or 'show up' as Bill Gates Snr says).

I particularly liked the story of when he was young he and his scout troop (under the inspired leadership of a scoutmaster) built a log cabin! The picture shows it to be solid and dependable but also with an aspect of flair and individuality about it. Much like Mr Gates Snr. Here's an excerpt from the book:

Another adult who provided me with powerful life lessons in showing up was our next-door neighbor, Dorm Braman. He showed up for so many things and accomplished so much in his life you’d have thought it would take two men to live Dorm’s life.

Dorm owned a cabinet-making business and in his spare time he led our Boy Scout troop.

He was a remarkable man whose showing up touched a lot of lives. In fact, even though he had never graduated from high school, after we Boy Scouts were all in college, Dorm ran for mayor of Seattle and won. Later, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as assistant secretary of transportation.

In the early years when he was our Scoutmaster, one weekend every month — rain or shine — Dorm took us on adventures that ranged from laid-back camping trips to arduous twenty-mile hikes through the Olympic Mountains.

One year he even acquired an old bus, added more seats to it, and took all of us to Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

Far and away the most unforgettable memory I have of Dorm’s showing up involved the building of what we called Camp Tahuya and Sundown Lodge.

This adventure began when Dorm decided our Boy Scout troop was going to acquire its own campsite and on it build a marvelous log lodge.

The first step was to persuade the local Lions Club to back the idea and buy the troop the land. We named the place Camp Tahuya after the river that ran through it.

Once we had the site, Dorm taught us how to clear land, fell trees, and build.

A lot has changed since then.

At that time, we felled the trees by hand and sawed the logs into proper lengths using two-man crosscut saws, and hand-peeled and planed them smooth and to proper dimensions using hand-wielded adzes. We had one power tool — a circular saw powered by Dorm’s flatbed truck.

Building a log lodge is sweaty, gritty work. But this adventure proved to us that if we worked together long enough and hard enough anything was possible.

Every weekend for three summers we twenty teenagers, Dorm, and our assistant scoutmaster worked all day, cooked our meals over open fires, and slept under the stars.

After three summers of labor (plus that of countless weekends during the school year) we had our log lodge in the woods.

It was an imposing twenty-five-by-forty-foot structure with a main floor larger than most of our homes and a massive fireplace built by the father of one of the boys who was a stonemason. It had a large kitchen and a sleeping loft.

It is difficult to convey the extent of the work it took to build Sundown Lodge — or our sense of achievement in getting it done — to anyone who has never built a building from the ground up.

In the narrowest sense, it would be true to say that we learned to use a variety of common hand tools, build a complex structure, and grow calluses and a few scars where none existed before.

In a broader sense, we were witness to an example of visionary and inclusive leadership and the amazing power of people working together toward a common goal.

All the showing up Dorm did in our lives gave shape to more than a log lodge in the woods. It gave shape to a place in our minds where we believed anything was possible.
Next up - some more non-fiction: BIG MAN by Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen called him that - as in, "The BIG MAN on saxophone")

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