You’re Be Cherington and you were driving you’re older brother’s hand-me-down car; he liked the late-model flashy cars, but you are more comfortable with a solid car that you can work on. Your dad and his dad tell you to just keep making the monthly payments, but that leaves you feeling trapped, paying a lot for a car you don’t like.
You’re Ben Cherington and you are from ‘The Granite State” and you have that rock-solid New Hampshire tendency toward prudence and patience, which, in extreme, makes some people live with this dreary dictum:
The zeitgeist of New England is a quirky quilt of reserved opinions, cautious movements, understated statements, awareness of social place, reliance on old ways, bland and boiled cuisine, skepticism of the newfangled, respect for the rhythms of the seasons, earned friendships, reverence for woods’ wisdom, fine grain evaluation, stolid stone walls, directions given in a knotty native narrative, and people who are risk-averse and leery of others “from away.” You may be born and raised in Maine, but, if you moved to another town, the locals just might add “from away,” when your name comes up at the Post Office.
You’re Ben Cherington and by applying yourself to the task, focusing your intelligence and your gift for disciplined, dogged diligence, you gradually rose up, like reliable slow-rising yeast, from the bottom of the bowl to the top; and, you did it “the old-fashioned way…you EARNED it!”
Until you arrived in the GM position, you could earn promotions without taking many risks, without thinking out of the box. Then, you hit the wall. You were ready to start driving. Dad gave you your older brother’s car and driving it required a whole new set of skills and opportunities to fail.
Dad and his dad encouraged you to keep pouring more and more money into this flashy car that you were embarrassed to be seen in. You wanted to sell the thing, get what you could for it, and buy the kind of car you want. But your dad and granddad tell you to replace the timing belt, invest in a re-built engine, and put a new coat of paint on it. Your girlfriend tells you to stand up to them; after all, it’s your car now.
You’re Ben Cherington and, to get the car you really want, you must face and overcome your worst fear: taking a big risk; getting off the floor and sleeping in the bed.
Unable to bear it anymore, you sit down at the kitchen table with dad and his dad and you “stand up to them.” To your surprise, they are impressed and delighted to see you, as granddad said: “Take the bull by the horns.” He recalls a family story, that you never heard, about the time your dad “stood up for himself”—he said he was tired of wearing his brother’s “hand-me-down” clothes.
Your dad, a retired traveling salesman, pops up with a new word; he says that you should feel “empowered” to make your own decisions about your own car.
You call your girlfriend and tell her the news; she is delighted to see this side of you. She reminds you about that essay you wrote in your Senior year, the one that started with your favorite quote from Woody Guthrie:
“Take it easy, but take it!”
You tell her you’ll pick her up right away and you both head over to the used car lot in the next town to “swap cars.”
On a roll with your new sense of empowerment, you surprise yourself; you drive a hard bargain with the slick, experienced salesman. You get top Blue Book price for your brother’s car and, instead of taking another “equal value,” late-model car, you opt for and older, less expensive one that you can work on. The salesman fills out the paperwork and hands you Registration and Title for the car and the difference: $250 cash money, which you will use to upgrade the car in a “disciplined” manner–your own way.
Psychologist Carl Jung said that every human being wrestles with their “shadow.” In Cowboy English, the Shadow is your opposite. If you are a risk-taker, your shadow side would be cautious. If you show the world a “successful” face, your shadow is failure. If you are by nature “disciplined,” your shadow would be daring, maybe, heedless, even foolhardy.
In a sense, the Shadow is that opposite side of our nature that invites us to “take a walk on the wild side,” to have the courage to venture out of our warm, sunny comfort zone and into the cool darkness, full of mystery and possibilities.
Think about your worst fear.
Now, imagine how brave you would need to be to overcome it, or even just to confront it.
Suppose you are afraid of heights.
Imagine you’re in that B movie scene: your soul mate scrambles across that fragile rope bridge to the other side of the endlessly deep chasm.
You are flash-frozen by fear; the bridge is falling apart; time is quickly drawing down your window of opportunity. In the melodrama cliches of B movies: it’s “do or die,” “now or never;” your soul mate pleadingly beckons you from the other side of the chasm.
You’re Ben Cherington and it may take a few years of discipline and work to make your used car “perfect,” by your standards, but, in the meantime, you can smile and wave at people as you drive around town. Sure, it’s not your brother’s flashy, late-model, but you feel much better driving it, because it’s your car, your way.