Monday, January 3, 2011

'The Sandwich Rule'

Happy New Year! Like many of you, I'm of the belief that this year will be a very good year, and I believe it with good reason, for the glass looks like there's plenty of water in it, even though it tastes a little like tap water. How's that for an honest assessment? Even though the year does look a little unfiltered right now, I feel like there is sufficient motivation to fill up the glass, and find a filtering system. I hope your glass has some water in it as well!

Now, on with the journey. Saturday night I found myself in Border's Bookstore trying to reinvigorate my love of reading. (in recent years, my reading has slowed) As I was going from section to section, I found the book by Robert Greene, 'The Forty Eight Laws of Power'. I took the book upstairs to the coffee shop, ordered a cup and started reading through the rules. At last, in a city in America, with it's history, with it's freedom, with it's grandeur, I came to the very definite conclusion as to why I am in the condition I am. Robert Greene's rules! As the rules read on and on, I found myself filled with some general horror and anger, for I realized that I just flat out disagreed with the majority of these rules. There are several of them that are common sense, but I found myself thinking, "these rules are all about deception, manipulation, condescension, arrogance, intellectual violence, and emotional blackmail…" I was appalled. I was confused. I was… not surprised. I also found myself thinking that this is a very clear way of understanding the polarization of America, and why there is such a gap in thinking between the rich and the poor, and the loss of the middle class, who seemed to have had at least a foot in each world. I'm not going to form a grand thesis about this theory, it would make a great paper, though, but I so want to point out that there are human beings in the world who do not think in terms of living a life to ascertain power. It also is helping me inform myself of the confusion I have often felt at reaction I have often received, and my own personal polarization. I can reduce Robert Greene's rules of power to one. It's called the sandwich rule. It may sound silly, but there is such a truth within it. If you make and share a sandwich with someone, when you cut it in half, do you take the larger half or the smaller half for yourself? I know, one rule against forty-eight. I suppose there are many ways to understand it. I distinctly remember the first time I was confronted with the sandwich rule. I must have been about fourteen or so. I made a conscious decision to always take the smaller half of the sandwich, and it would always be my secret. Further, I decided that it didn't matter who I was sharing the sandwich with, or how I was feeling about the person, it would be a rule that I would live by. And so goes the story of my life. Theatre, career, teaching, money, etc., all of it in my life was subconsciously defined by the sandwich rule. So now, sitting here thinking about these rules it occurs to me, would my life have been different if I had always taken the larger half of the sandwich? You bet it would have. I believe there are some very distinct convictions that we form early for many reasons, and I'm not trying to say that this is the loftier way, I'm only trying to say that I may not be able to reverse my adherence to the sandwich. All of Robert Green's rules are variations on taking the larger half of the sandwich for yourself, even from those who have been your mentors, friends, family, or enemies. (By the way, using the sandwich rule, if you can get that larger half to your enemy, its doubly fulfilling!)

Okay, I was going to begin a break down of his rules, but I would be hiking all over slippery slopes, and would have to write much more than I have time for today, so I suppose I'll just have to keep thinking about it. I did go online and paste them to my computer, so that I can mull. It might be interesting, readers, for you to do the same. I would love to hear your comments on the subject.

I've also been told by several people that perhaps its not such a good idea to write and post such personal thoughts and feelings on my blog, that perhaps individuals who may consider hiring me would hesitate because of such a personal view point. That I may be unreliable, unstable, and too much of a risk. There is an element of truth to what they are advising me, however, I have to believe that there is a possible virtue in sharing some of these deep truths about myself. My belief is that in doing so someone may read something that they can truly identify with, that perhaps they could not articulate as I find I can, and that in some way it helps. I believe that. As for my stability, first of all, when it comes to my work I believe I fall into the top percentage of people that can be relied upon. If you are one of those individuals who may doubt my possibility because of my words on my feelings, be advised that I have that pioneer full sandwich work ethic, and I will always give you more than you have asked of me. I think its true that there have certainly been periods in my life when I could have given you more, but I assure you, that I can give to you now in unexpected ways. Hire me, you won't regret it.

Like many of you, with the things in my mind and heart I hope I can change in the coming year, I'm facing some smaller decisions that add up to some bigger ones. Can you relate? This morning I received a text message from someone who heard I was looking for a job. I answered the message to this person's voicemail, still not knowing who this person is or what the job entails. Once again, I feel the pressure to get a day job again to help fill the coffers, and of this I am in agreement. But I also have to consider whether there is wisdom in working with a certain kind of energy, that in the end will take away from the 'master' plan that still moves me forward. For now, however, I'm willing to take just about any job, just to stave off all of Bob Greene's rules, staring me in the face.

Several people have written to me and ask for my physical address, so this is where you can send that late Christmas card, or, come on over, I'll make us a sandwich.

Raymond Shurtz

5425 E. Verde Lane

Phoenix, AZ 85018


Gerry said...

I refer you to The Writing Blog II I was reading this morning as to why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I perused the long article the link leads to, and I must say could have gotten incensed if I also do not have resignation, for I am 79, certainly not destined to live too many more years in a difficult world where the piece of pie that goes to most people is getting smaller. However, the conditions in the world will affect everyone younger so they may as well become more aware of all the problems so they can work harder on them. These worsening conditions certainly have economic impact as you are suggesting here. Enough people if they can keep cutting and taking a larger piece of the sandwich will make it harder on those getting an increasingly smaller piece. The more people we have not acting with selfish disregard of others the better world we will have. I would say the more people who are better off, the better we all live in the long run. The wealthy getting wealthier can only end up collapsing economies and bringing a general bleakness into the world at large. Selfish disregard works against having a decent world to live in. It will cause starvation, bankruptcy, much suffering so that even the very rich are going to be affected in the long run by a kind of end of the world scenario as we know it. So we need thinkers to take us through solutions that will relieve the harshness of existence for most of mankind. That is the value of a thinking man's thoughts.

Chuckh said...

Funny, when I was younger I definitely took the larger piece because I was hungry. When I was a kid and at the dinner table I found out very quickly that if I didn't grab my food I would get a smaller portion because we were a family of 8. In larger terms, part of the reason I was so unhappy in my twenties was because I always deferred to others in my relationships. Esp. to women. Later, when I was single for the first time in my life free of all relationships, including my parents and family and on my own, I was the happiest I'd ever been because for the first time in my life I was truly pursuing what I was attracted to, not what others told me I should do. Then when I got married I started to defer my dreams and modify them as age and health and compromise dictated. Now that I am older I am freer to again pursue my passion. But it was a long circle to come back to it. But I know the point of the sandwich rule is this: When William Hurt won the Academy Award, he said this. And I quote him loosely. “I did not win the Academy Award because I am the best actor. I won because I am the most focused….” He did what I wished I was able to do. That is deferring everything else until you reach your dream. Then share the damn sandwich.

TJ in Boulder said...

I keep wondering when the change in our national consciousness occured. And when I look closely I have to blame my (baby boom) generation. The parents who were raised during the depression and seemed never to have had enough were committeed to making sure their children never went without "the whole sandwich" and a few cookies too. The children grew into adults who always expected MORE. In a finite world YOU can't have more without someone else having less.

I just finished a book called "Methland" about the collapse of small town life in rural America and the simultaneous rise in methamphedamine addiction. Not something for the faint of heart or easily depressed. The economy of many farm states began to collapse with the death of the family farm and the rise of corporate agriculture. Example, the local meat processor was purchased by a major food processor. Workers were laid off and the wages cut from $15.00/hr. to $5.00/hr with no benefits.

The same thing happens when people always look for the lowest price instead of paying more for something locally made. If you always buy the cheapest, you are in fact employing virtual slaves working for the lowest possible wage in the worst conditions so you can save .50 or a dollar.

So, in this New Year, if your glass is full pour some out into someone's whose is not. I'm with you Raymond.