I remember reading a short story in hight school english. For some reason i'm thinking it was in either andy rooney's book or a chapter in one of the chicken soup for the soul books... If it sounds familiar, please let me know so I can update this.
The story sort of went like this. A middle aged guy who was thought it would be really cool if our culture had a right of passage tradition. Something Similar to the Aboriginies' walkabout or some type of tribal scarification that may or may not take place in some jungle where the participants may or may not have bones sticking through their lip.
Anyway, his point was he wished he had to go through a right of passage. He had it all planned out. The elders would send him into the woods alone. He would not be allowed to return until he completed one very important task. A task that was completed by his father, his father's father, even his creepy uncle Tony. The ritual was old and revered by all.
It was simple. He would be sent into the woods on a nice weekend with plenty of food, water, supplies, and a stick. His task? Sit in the woods and polish the stick. That's it. He'd shine the stick. And, after a night or two, when he emerged from the woods everyone would celebrate the polished stick. Old women would admire it. Young women would swoon and the young men of the area would hoist him in the air and carry him around like he just scored the winning goal at the world cup.
Now, I'm sure there is more to the story and it has some greater meaning... I was in high school and was forced to read the story probably because we had a substitute teacher and there wasn't anything good to do.. Who knows. I do remember thinking the story was pointless and trivial... and lame. I mean, who would _want_ a right of passage ritual to be so weak. If you're going to do something that is meaningful, why not put yourself out there a bit. Do something useful, or cool, or dangerous... What a pussy.
Today I spent the day mowing, trimming, weeding, picking up dog poop. In fact, I've spent the better part of the last two years working on my homes. They started out in pretty good shape. The roofs didn't leak, heating and ac were fine, I could sleep, eat, poop with no problems. But, for some reason there was always something to do. Let's landscape the front yard. Let's make the back yard look like the san diego zoo. Let's paint the living room. There's a bare spot in the grass. ooh, i don't like that color in the living room any more, let's change it.
I haven't just been working on the house. Nope, we've been buying furniture, too. Decorating, watching shows about decorating, installing bamboo, tastefully appointing every room with the trendiest of items. It's been fun. It's been expensive. I work very hard during the day and the occasional late night in a Business Casual cubicle. I mean, we have to have extra money for the little things. The house is beautiful.
Today, as I'm picking up the poop of our two uber stylish dachunds I think to myself, Why does it have to be so beautiful? I mean, i like to go to the art museum as much as the next guy, but why must we spend so much time making our domain so perfect? It's a lot of work. So much I've noticed I don't have friends anymore. It doesn't matter, I wouldn't have time for them if I did.
I didn't have much time to ponder. There was lots to do. Cleaning, mopping, dusting, and I _have_ to finish sealing the italian tile. After all, We have house guests this weekend.
After four days of frantic preparation, they walk in the door. Ooooh, ahhh, I love what you've done here, and that marble is beautiful, where did you get that painting?
Behold! My shiny stick.