Monday, September 29, 2014

What Jack Taught Me

It's time for a pep talk...
 I have a tendency to obsess over things. Sherlock. Antonio Vivaldi. Combat boots. Tea.
I also have a tendency to admire older men…like my thirty-something Political Science professor in 11th grade. I thought that guy was the cat’s meow until he treated a group of us students to a Mexican restaurant and became obnoxiously drunk over one too many cervezas. Before that, when I was twelve, I spent many blissful hours dreaming about a certain chiseled male movie star who died before I was even born and was well into his 30s during the filming of his movies, all of which I devoured religiously. 

 Now, at age twenty, my hormone storms have sufficiently cooled. I still admire older men, but more for their integrity than their looks (at least, I like to imagine so). One of those men, long dead but still with a relevant message, is Jack Lord, the star of the original Hawaii Five-0 whom I’ve written about several times before. I didn’t know who the heck he was until this past summer, but something about him intrigued me, which was odd because his sidekick Danno has him way beat in the looks department (oh, right—I wasn’t admiring men for their appearance anymore. Pardon me.) 

Dear Danno... such a wistful expression...
 Anyway, I did some research on Mr. Lord and uncovered some interesting facts. First of all, he was raised a Catholic, which made me very happy (although there was no indication if he continued to practice as an adult). He was also an accomplished painter, which also made me happy (artistic men are always, I think, very sensitive and thoughtful). Then, of course, I read some other articles where people complained about what a jerk he could be on the set of Hawaii Five-0, which he bought and owned after the producer passed away unexpectedly. Apparently, Jack was bossy and a perfectionist, wanting everyone to be on time and know their lines to the letter. If you slacked off, he yelled at you—or worse—fired you. He wanted to control everything. Hmm. Not so worthy of emulation, eh?

 But then I read a quote from Jack himself from a particular interview about the show. “I am a difficult person to work with,” he stated. “I do demand a lot. I expect people to show up and be on time and work hard. But I also tell them that they shouldn’t be doing this for me; they should be doing this for themselves, because you owe yourself more than a half-ass job.”

Jack’s character on Hawaii Five-0 is the head of the island’s police force, Steve McGarrett. He is an extremely intelligent and complex man, fiercely loyal to the men under him as well as the forces above him. He does his work carefully and thoroughly and expects others to do the same. Sometimes he stays up until 4 a.m. and expects Danno to be right at his elbow. If you’re a dumb criminal or a slacking cop, beware—Steve will cut you down and chew you out. (Hmm…sounds familiar.) Audiences fell in love with Steve McGarrett because they knew they could count on him to get the job done, right up until the 12th season of Hawaii Five-0 where McGarrett puts his arch-nemesis behind bars for good. The show couldn’t have ended any other way. 

 Jack’s statement really made me think about how I’m all too glad to take the easy way out with just about everything: homework, my job, eating healthy, exercising…the list goes on. I only do what I absolutely have to in order to get by. But I deserve more than that, especially from myself. I owe it to myself to do a good job. It just makes sense.

You don’t have to be bossy about it, like Jack supposedly was, but it’s much easier to expect the best from people if you expect the best from yourself. Otherwise we are all just a bunch of mediocre ninnies.

And, so as not to give all of the credit to Jack, I think Jesus also demanded that we be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, which can’t happen if we’re all a bunch of slackers. And then there’s this little green guy with pointy ears who said something along the lines of “Do, or do not. There is no try.” 

 This isn’t as hard as you might think; it only requires some discipline not to turn tail when the going gets tough. Finish your homework, neatly and on time. Do all of your assigned reading. Wash the dishes thoroughly and dust the bookshelves with precision. Be a good employee who shows up on time and does what you’re supposed to do and beyond (I used to organize the clutter around the checkout counters on slow days at ACE hardware—it tickled my boss pink).

Try it. Dare yourself. See if you have the cojones for what it takes to be excellent. 

I smell cookies! Happy day!


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