What The Former Cat Stevens Said

October 9, 2014


As college coeds, we listened rapt as Cat told us that the “world” was wild and that it would break our hearts in two.  We thought that our young lives had the elements of tragedy and that we were wise beyond our years.  We yearned for the wisdom that age brings without the lines or widening hips.

We were so smart.  Or so we thought.

Luckily, none of us know how it is going to turn out, who and what will matter most and how long it and we will last.  Or as the late talented Elaine Strich once said “isn’t it grand that we don’t know what is going to happen to any of us?”

Isn’t it indeed?

Being a grown-up has its benefits. One’s ability to make decisions, pay bills, chart a course, travel and engage is powerful.  There are moments when we each look around the room and note “Oh $%^&*$# — I am the grown up…they are looking to me for decisions.” Or when our children (with wide eyes) assume that we have the answers – and we know that we don’t — nor do our own parents, doctors, bosses, friends and spouses.

We are all just doing the best that we can.

It became most clear (to me) when my grandfather was dying in a hospital bed (in a hospital of which he was a founder.) He said two prophetic things:

  • I trained these people – they don’t know what they are doing, and
  • I am doing the best that I can.

This from a man who (in my estimation) had been able to ensure some lofty challenges. (The Great Depression in Appalachia, WWII, a physician prior to the advent of antibiotics, etc.)

For what it’s worth, those of us who participate in the world’s communications challenges are NOT engaged in the planet’s most important work.  We are not splitting the atom, curing disease or undertaking humanitarian missions.  We are simply aligning words, images and thoughts.  We listen hard.

We are (in a small way) – though—making life a bit better.  We connect people to issues and pursuits that matter to them.  And when we do it well – we make life a bit more comprehensible.

Those who “pay” for our expertise became more cost efficient in the fall of 2008 – and they have not – nor will not return to the headier days of spend, spend, spend.  There are more of us who work for less.  Those of us who continue in this field do so with creativity, results and a bottom line orientation at the forefront.  We are not frivolous or wasteful.

And for some of us, this communications stuff is all that it is we know how to do.

We press on.

Scarce resources have made for some unpleasant behavior.  We witness those who attempt to edge others out.  We experience competition from folks who are friends.

Let’s challenge one another to rise above this.  There is room for each of us.  Communications between people, about issues, about products and services will always matter. It is a basic part of the “human condition.”  There is a role for each one of us.  Hostile and mean behavior only degrades the profession. We can do and be better.

Or better yet, let’s mimic Cat Stevens when he was in the light and not taking his “footsteps in the dark,” as he said

Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear…
Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there.
Don’t be a bad girl….