WORDS TO LIVE BY
There are a lot of great "words to live by" that could be posted here from many different sources. The ones here, however, are ones that have been circulated somewhat regularly around our troop over the years. Hopefully you or your son will find some inspiration or a moment of truth in one of them.
The troop's FIRST scoutmaster was Mr. Craig Stanton. One day in March, 2005 after he was no longer in the troop or our scoutmaster, the troop received this email broadcast from him titled "NOT another tragedy":
Last night at around 7:30 pm, a car with 2 teenagers riding in it lost control and rolled over 2 or 3 times on Carrs Mill Road in Howard County.
I was the first one on the scene and when I saw the condition of the vehicle, it gave my nervous system a severe jolt. The roof was caved in, the windshield shattered, doors crushed and completely covered in mud. It was a picture from a newspaper headline proclaiming, yet another, tragic accident.
When the paramedics, fire department and police arrived, they braced for the worst, you could see it in their eyes.
My 18-year-old son was the passenger in the vehicle.
When Zach got his drivers license we had long discussions about the unbreakable rules.
No drinking and driving.
No riding in a car with anyone who has been drinking.
No driving unless everyone is belted up.
No riding in a car where everyone is not belted up.
There is no substitute for common sense.
As my son grew up, whenever we got into the car I would refuse to start it until everyone was buckled into his or her seatbelt. No seatbelts, no start. No discussion.
I believed, at the time, that was how you developed good habits.
Apparently, I was on to something.
My son is at home this morning, as is the driver of the vehicle.
After being checked out at the emergency room last night, they were released with very minor cuts and scratches. Nothing, really, to speak of.
There are a lot of very lucky people walking around today.
The paramedics, firemen and police are lucky because they avoided having to participate in another preventable rescue/recovery.
The community is lucky because we don’t have to mourn the loss of another child.
I am lucky because my son is home, safe.
The driver’s parents are lucky for the same reason.
As for my son and the driver…
There was no drinking or drugs involved in the accident, and both of them had their seatbelts on.
I think they were more smart than lucky.
Talk to your kids.
Teach them what the right thing to do is.
You could be lucky too.
Woodbine, MD 21797
One day, while watching an episode of "Dirty Jobs" with my younger scout, I heard the host - Mike Rowe - cite the Scout Law with perfection. He was doing something tedious and nasty involving bats and a cave at the time... That led me to do a quick Google search to find that yes, indeed, Mike Rowe (who is from Baltimore) is indeed another of the successful people who are also Eagle Scouts. Lately, he has been invited to speak at the 100th anniversary of scouting, and even more recently the 100th anniversary of Eagle Scouting. However, what I also found way back in 2008 was a message that he posted in 2007 in the forums for his TV show that really caught my eye... It was a request from a father to have Mike encourage his son to finish scouting and earn his Eagle rank - here is what the father wrote to Mike:
I'm not sure where I heard that you are an Eagle Scout, which brings me to my question. Could you PLEASE take a moment & email my 13 year old son Kelby & encourage him to finish scouting (& anything else that'll help with this?) Reason I'm asking is that he only lacks 1 1/2 - 2 years in reaching Eagle, but some of his buddies have got him to thinking scouting isn't cool at his age.
What Mike wrote in response to that request is something I have forwarded to the troop periodically over the years...
Your Dad asked me to drop you a line and say something inspirational that might persuade you to dig down deep and find the determination to make the rank of Eagle Scout. It's a reasonable request, from a father who obviously wants to see his son succeed. But here’s the thing - The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few, and I have no idea if you have the guts to see it through.
Statistically, I suspect you do not. Only one out of a hundred Scouts make Eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can share excuses. Quitting now might disappoint your Dad, but I doubt that he or anyone else will be overly surprised. Anytime 99 out of 100 people do the same thing, it’s not exactly a shock.
I’m not trying to be cute with a bunch of reverse psychology. When I was 15, there was nothing that anyone could have said to me that would have inspired me to do something I didn't want to do, especially a stranger with a TV show. So I’m not going to assume you’re any different, or pretend that I have some influence or insight that you haven’t already heard from a dozen other people who actually know and care about you. I’ll just tell you straight up, that doing something extraordinary can be very lonely, and most people simply aren’t cut out for it. Being an Eagle Scout requires you to be different than most everyone around you, and being different is really, really hard. That’s why the award is called “an accomplishment.”
Personally, and for whatever it’s worth, the best decisions I've made in my own life, are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool. Singing in the Opera, working in home shopping, staring in the school play when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my Eagle, were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed gratification. I have no idea if you possess those qualities, or even envy them. But I can tell you for certain, that NOT getting your Eagle, will be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.
Anyway, you would do well to listen to Don. He is wise like the owls on which he depends, and has learned much from them. (And believe me, he is far from average.) But neither he nor I have any idea if you would prefer an easy life of predictability and mediocrity, or if have the passion to follow the road less traveled. Only you get to decide that.
More on Mike Rowe and Scouting: