The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

authentic human progress

November5

Last week, I recalled that, during my many visits to the desert (you’ll ask: “metaphorically speaking?” I’ll respond: “does it really matter?”), I met a wise man named Buck O’Neil – a prophet, if you will – and, asked him the secret to a long, successful life.

“Good genes,” was all he said, at first.

Buck left us all behind October 6, 2006 – the day before my birthday, just like Dad. There is a rhythm and pattern to life with that. But, we’ll discuss it some other time.

His hair was white and his face was mahogany, calling pleasantly to mind a pint of Guinness. “I’m ninety-years old,” he continued, then pressed his fingertips to unlined cheeks, which shone like polished apples.

“Good black don’t crack”, he mused (I’m not sure he actually mused, but that word works, here).

With that, I was fully prepared to move on, and thanked him. In fact, I was already rising halfway from my seat, like a bluffing panelist on To Tell the Truth, when he said softly: “There is one other thing.”

So, I settled back, curious, I might add, and he said:

“I never fill my stomach. My mother was a great cook, but my father told me, ‘She’s only filling your stomach so another woman never gets to. She’s just trying to hold on to you.’ Ever since, I can eat more, but I never do.”

Look… The stories around Buck are countless. Many of them will bring a tear to your eye. Others will make you slap your thigh with joy in preparation of laughter. He was a black man, and it never mattered to him, even though it did to everyone else. But, everyone respected and loved Buck (Note: That might be a vital difference between men like Buck and Barack Obama. By the way, did you know that  Obama high-tailed it to Asia, pouting over his loss of the House Tuesday? Other than a vital need to drive home a point, here, I’m loathe to include Buck in the same story as Obama. But, the only real difference Obama will make in our lives is he must now change his plans to stay in power).

Let other, more articulate folks tell those stories. Especially those that lived them alongside Buck. I never had that privilege. But, I try to learn from men like him, every day, and any way.

Part of that is my on-going efforts to live the Authentic Life. And, that includes having a life well-lived, and worth remembering by those I’ve lived amongst.

So… What, then, is the secret to a life well-lived?

Here was another hint. “Don’t hate another human being,” said O’Neil, whose father was the son of a slave. “Hate cancer. Cancer took my mother, took my wife four years ago. Hate what happened on September 11. But don’t hate another human being. God made man.”

…oh wow.

I did, in fact, find myself thinking: But God made men who denied you, at various times, a toilet, a hotel room, an education, a living, your very humanity. And, of course, I voiced those thoughts, because that’s what I do (“oh really?[!]”, you exclaim. “Brian has opinions he foists on people?”).

“My parents always told me most people are good,” continued O’Neil. “Even when I was young, (Note: he lived his early days in Carrabelle, Florida), most people were good. The thing was, good people sometimes let the bad people have their way. But who wrapped their arms around Jackie Robinson in his time of need? Pee Wee Reese of Louisville, Kentucky, did. The commissioner of baseball in 1947 [Happy Chandler] was a man from Kentucky.”

With this, his left hand grabbed my forearm, and his right fist rapped his own breastbone as if it were a door.

“It comes from in here,” said he. “Doing the right thing. It takes somebody to change something. My grandfather was a slave. And God saw it wasn’t right, so he sent Abraham Lincoln. And Abraham Lincoln joined hands with Frederick Douglass, who joined hands with Sojourner Truth, who joined hands with Harriet Tubman – and, so on.”

Apparently, and thusly, human progress, in O’Neil’s view, is a chain of men with virtu (the Greek form, mind you) in their hearts (the word virtu always has me thinking of Dr. Nick Pappas at Radford University), linked at the wrist and leading to you.

O’Neil paused, and I could only sit quietly in wonder through what must be churning through that lovely mind, and then he added:

“This is the greatest country on Earth, but we can be better. That is going to be your job.”

He held my forearm like a bat. “In my day we changed some things. Now it’s your turn to change things. And you’ll do it. I know you will.”

I did pause. And, when I confessed that I struggled, with my generation, challenged to change our channels manually, much less to change the world, he invoked the memory of his grandfather Julius, born into slavery in South Carolina, and owned by a man with the surname, O’Neil.

“Grandpa used to tell me he loved Mr. O’Neil,” he said. “And I would ask him: ‘Grandpa, how could you love a man who kept you as his slave?’ And Grandpa said, ‘He never sold off a mother from her children, he never sold off a husband from his wife.’ And Grandpa, this is before all the doctors and all the medicine we have today, lived to be one-hundred-and-two years old.”

Was this good genes, I wondered, or something greater? I was merely seeking the secret of a life well-lived – how to progress – and, felt I was getting closer. So, I asked about that. And when the old man, once again, took my arm in his hand, I felt physically linked in that chain-of-virtu to all who had gone before me…

“Love,” he half-whispered, as if sharing a confidence. “Love, man. This is the whole thing.”

So… You gotta be a “Love Kat”. It’s been awhile since I invoked that one. It’s timely to be sure.

Peace be to my brothers and sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

pillaging ministries for Prophet

February21

So…

I may well have the coolest job in the world. I might shy away from referring to it as a “calling”. But, I really enjoy the work I do. And, I see evidence, daily, that it’s meaningful.

There are many aspects to what I do. But, relevant to the line-of-thinking tied to this post is my efforts around and through men who start businesses from a “best practices” standpoint – and, also ministries (which are a form of business, but not necessarily oriented around best practices).

I’m guessing I’ll discuss that latter topic on a broader scale later (the list of topics I ache to share is endless, and my energy boundless).

But, readers of this Blog already know that.

In any event, I’m going to share a brief exchange I’ve had in the last twenty four hours with John. He is my good and dear friend. He is struggling. But, it’s a healthy and worthy (possibly noble) form of struggle. It’s cool being around it. Especially having the sense that’s it’s going to end well.

By the way… And, don’t bother rolling your eyes… John is likely a kind of Prophet. And, like many Biblically-oriented figures he often can’t heal himself. But, like any good flame, good things could be drawn to it.

Is this John’s Kobayashi Maru? Or, is my role in walking with such men an example of that un-winnable test always demonstrating, and proves, character development is the best result?

In any event, here’s the exchange. Make of it what you will, or must. I certainly will. In fact, I’ve already started thinking about drawing lines of corollary  thought relative to Charles Darwin, men who think they should start ministries, and the gene-pool (this does not include John).

On Feb 18, 2010, at 6:46 PM, John XXXX wrote:

“Thoughts on doing both e29 and ministry?

Does my passion for ministry exclude the need for work? Is ministry the work?

Ideas coming to mind? You know me and know my heart.  And, you will speak candidly to me.

That’s what I need right now.

Peace & Favor,

John”

What came to my mind, and from my heart:

“I’ve always felt that good work was a form of Ministry in it’s own right.

Show me a man who is evangelistic over his products and services, and you’ll see a man on fire in the belief that he is helping people, supporting his family, and honoring God in more ways than I could describe in this email.

I might humbly use myself as an example. I see evidence, every day, that I am making a keen difference in the lives of good people around me. My own daughter describes my work simply as: “Daddy helps people”.

You know… The Nordic (because there were several varieties) Vikings believed that Valhalla was a  place you went to fight, drink and wench for eternity. This was a reward for doing great work (pillaging was more a hobby) on earth using the skills and strength God (in a manner of speaking) gave them.

…maybe… Just maybe, one reason Ministries fail more often than even secular business startups is because the instigators start on the wrong foot with poorly formed financial models, certainly flawed market validation, and  – and worse, desires.”

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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