September 16th, 2010

In contrasting Russian tubercular patients against their European counterparts at an alpine sanatorium, Thomas Mann’s Herr Settembrini talks about a “liberality, [a] barbaric extravagance in the use of time [that] is the Asian style.” I think this is a great description of Matt, who works behind our front desk. Matt, who is taking a casual, if somewhat overextended, stroll through his college course load, says that he knows he’ll finish someday. Sure it’s been seven years, but all of life is still ahead. A year ago his truck broke down and he borrowed another from Jerry, our director of sales and marketing. Jerry didn’t need his truck, so Matt relaxed. He got his own fixed yesterday, saying that he meant to fix it right away, but that the year had just sort of gone by. And our dear general manager thinks this initial breakdown was more like a year and a half ago. But what’s a few extra months?

This was not a compliment Herr Settembrini was giving, and Matt is not Russian. So, what is my point? Well, how about looking just a little further east and, instead of calling Matt’s potentially Asian-influenced style “procrastination”, as he himself calls it, thinking of it more along the lines of something like Zen? To me, a “liberality…in the use of time” sounds like a pre-requisite for doing things like living in the moment and accepting yourself. Matt keeps loose goals in his eyes, but stays, also, open to the things in life that just come up. And he’s not afraid to drop a class when they do!

The only real problem I see, to be honest, is convincing Matt himself to stop hanging his head when he says he doesn’t really know where he’ll end up. Maybe he’s a little non-Western in his life vision, but he’ll certainly enjoy his path.

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