Get out of the way.

I attended an event last night. It was a snacks, liquor and speeches event in honour of my old boss at the indie bookshop. We were not to refer to it as a “retirement party,” so I won’t.

Long story short: this boss owned that shop. He built it from the ground up (not literally, the building already existed), after selling another bookshop in another (regional) town. It became “Prince George’s Living Room.” A haven for art, artists, people who like art, and people who don’t like art. It is a safe place, free of judgement, for everyone. It is a cultural hub of this community. I am thrilled, honoured and truly amazed that I have the opportunity to be a part of that.

I digress.

This boss built, worked, and then (in January) sold the shop to his long-time manager (my other boss, obviously).

Last night was a meeting of the minds. Old staff, new staff, old customers, new customers, old friends…a motley family. There were speeches, an original stage play, satirical ditties and a jazz band. I laughed, I teared up, I drank, I ate, I hugged, I reminisced. (Bookstore folk know how to party, y0.)

It’s funny, though. There were so many amazing things said about this amazing man, most in thanks to him for building this lighthouse, but one struck me above all others. In his opening speech, a good friend of The Boss praised his (the boss’s) children. He commented on how inspiring, wonderful, thoughtful, etc. they are (they really are). Above all else, they are themselves. This good friend said that when he had asked The Boss about how that happened, how all of his seven children were such great, unique, self-possessed people, The Boss thought for a moment, shrugged and replied “I got out of their way.”

He let them be themselves. He encouraged their interests and passions and supported their journeys. He cared enough about them to let them make mistakes, brush themselves off (I’m sure he helped them to their feet whenever they needed it), and emboldened them to keep going.

That is my lesson. Get out of the way. I don’t control people, I can’t, I don’t want to and I won’t try. In particular, my son. The one thing I want for that little dude to be is himself. I want him to be the very best and most true himself that he can ever possibly be. If he is that, then I have done my job.

So folks? Get out of the way. (Of your own Selves, too. It’s not an easy path, but it’s a damn important and great one.)

Neil Young – Old Man



5 thoughts on “Get out of the way.

  1. Sounds like a great night! And great advice.

    He once talked me through a panic attack in the break-room and didn’t tell anyone or make a big deal out of it–pretty great guy

    • Awh. He is a pretty special person, hey? I didn’t really know that, not REALLY, until recently. I like to be able to see him on a different (more friendly, less bossly) level.

      I’m sorry you had a panic attack, but I’m really glad he was there to help. 🙂

  2. Fantastic post, and really good advice for anyone, really. I find that I very often get in my own way. It’s really difficult to let go, and to let yourself work toward something that maybe seems a bit fantastical (i.e. writing).

    • I am The Worst for getting in my own way, too. I’m starting to recognize it when it happens though, so that’s awesome.

      You’re right. “Get out of the way” is good advice for everyone. About everything.

      Life is weird.

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