He steps out of the
in one seamless fluid motion. First, he's in the car but not yet
stepped into the garage ... then he's
in the garage. There's no in between. It's a rapid segue from
not here to here, from is not to
is, from not
how with it, the garage, already
It's so sudden that I want to look around to see if someone has turned
on another light - or, with a rheostat, has turned an already on
light, up brighter. But it's not that. It's simply his now
the garage by an extra few hundred lumens - as
as it sounds.
He towers in the low-ceilinged garage. In this confined
space you can get how tall he really is: six feet, and
then some. He's beaming, the ear to ear smile which famously
lights up stadiums. It's the kind of beam which expresses greetings,
happiness, glad to be here, and no doubt the fulfillment and
satisfaction of whatever the ongoing project he's engaged with and
is. However, to explain his beaming is to diminish it.
He's not beaming because anything. He's just ... well ...
beaming. It's how he
who he is.
His dress is at once decidely formal yet incredibly relaxed. He's
wearing a loose fitting perfectly tailored white cotton business shirt,
sleeveless vee neck cashmere sweater,
slacks impeccably pressed showing perfect creases, and his just
Ferragamo loafers polished to a
shine. By now, the driver of the car, an aide, and two other
people who were in the car with him, have all stepped out into the
garage and are animatedly engaged with him in whatever conversation was
going on as they drove in. Yet when he sees me, he immediately stops
talking with them, and says "Hi Lar!" in that rich, deep,
Philadelphian accent ("Lar" is his term of endearment for
me, from the Roman
I pause what I'm doing to greet him. I'm tidying shelves, closets, and
floor space. The shelves, closets, and floor space are already pretty
impeccable, mind you. What I'm doing is the impossible:
I'm making them more impeccable than they already are. I'm
secure in his
So my acknowledgement of him being here is to turn sideways on to him,
rather than have my back to him. I don't need to tell him what I'm
doing: it's quite obvious. Furthermore, the work I'm doing is neither
for pay nor is it for acknowledgement. It's work that's its own
reward. There's no other place I know of where I can do work like this.
This is a
- which is within hismonastery.
Here's what I mean by this:
the world is his
- and now within it this, its garage, in particular - is
a Zen monastery within his
He stands there watching me work. He still hasn't re-engaged in
conversation with the people who drove in with him. And then ... he
closes his right hand to a fist, bends his right elbow pulling his fist
back towards his chest in an unmistakable gesture. It's as if he's
pulling back on a lever, the kind a machinist would pull back on to
control a certain function of
And as he pulls back on this lever, he makes a sound. His lower
jaw juts forward, his cheeks pull upward on the sides of
as the sound comes from deep in the back of his throat. The sound he
makes is immediately identifiable to me. It's completely
recognizable. It's ... well ... how do you spell the sound a ratchet
He's making, perfectly, the sound a ratchet makes. He's recreating the
rapid click click click sound the teeth on the cogs of a
ratchet make as they pass in one direction only over the
tongues of their braking mechanism which prevents them from sliding
back. The sound of the ratchet he's making, perfectly, (and how
do you spell the sound a ratchet makes? - if I knew, I'd
write it here ...) is clearly, totally, and unambiguously
communicating "Tighten it up Lar! Tighten it up.".
Tighten it up Lar! It's not a criticism: it's agreement. It's an
acknowledgement. It's more than that actually. It's coaching.
It's coaching for life ie it's coaching ... for ... Life!
Keep it tight. Keep it simple. Keep it impeccable. Keep it
immaculate. Keep on doing what you're doing. Keep up the good work.
And it's all nonverbal silent communication - except for
his sound a ratchet makes. I can't even spell the sound a ratchet
makes. But when he delivers nonverbal silent communication embedded in
his sound a ratchet makes, I hear it ... loud and clear. I get
it: "Tighten it up Lar! Tighten it up.".
And then, as suddenly as he arrives, he's gone. The garage is empty
again. I'm here ... by ... my ...
My project is complete. I've left all surfaces neat, clean, tidy,
indeed impeccable and immaculate. Before I leave I turn out the light,
plunging the garage into darkness. That's when I notice although the
light is out, the garage is still bright like a few hundred lumens - as
as it sounds.