Calibre: Of Beings, Barrels and Bullets

I find myself
Thinking about the calibre of people in my life
Who I choose to have around me.
What they love, who they are, what they stand for, what they fight for, what makes their eyes sparkle with passion and fascination and what brings the oceans crashing down their cheeks in rivers of sadness
What drives them
What trips them up again and again
What makes them feel they are tiny, what makes them feel they are huge
What makes their spine stretch proud and strong like an oak, what makes their faces and bodies hunch forward in shame
The kind of people they have in their lives
And whether I will be one of them
Whether they see themselves
Whether they see me
Why I love them
Why they love me
If they are courageous enough to love others, and to be loved
And to be honest and respectful when they don’t
Who they are
And who they are to me
If they care enough to challenge me, and are humble enough to be challenged by me
If they can face me, and themselves, in the darkness and in the light
And not pretend that they are somewhere they aren’t
If they run from me or towards me
From themselves or towards themselves
If they see beauty in seemingly ugly things, and do not judge even when it comes naturally, and are aware and merciful when they do
If they are brave enough to talk to me if something goes awry rather than run away, if we both believe our friendship is worth more than the conflict
If both the peaceful, silent moments together and the excitement of adventure together hold the same joy for each of us
If they have the courage to be honest and admit their victories and fears in the same breath, a deep one,
To themselves and to me
If they can feel, and where they channel emotion
If they would notice if I disappeared, if I was untrue to myself, if I was in pain and if they’d care enough to reach out a hand
If they would let me notice theirs and do the same
If I know where I stand with them, and that it would be the same within arms reach or on opposite sides of the world
If we remind each other of who we are when we lose our way on the path and welcome each other back
If we can share solids, liquids, gases and words with each other
Knowing no seconds together are wasted
If we could say anything to each other, and actually did
If there was no need to say “I love you” because our actions consistently expressed that
But we say it anyway, because we do.
I wonder how well we really know each other and how well we know ourselves. It takes courage to know and be known. It takes courage to take risks and make mistakes. It takes courage to succeed and to continue.
The word “calibre” refers to the quality of someone’s character or their ability as well as the diameter of a bullet or gun barrel. Today, walking the streets of my neighbourhood, I thought: Ability is like the barrel, and character like the bullet. Continuing the metaphor: If a gun (person) had no barrel (ability) whatsoever, there may still be bullets (character). However. If a gun (person) had no/low on bullets (character) and the most phenomenal barrel (ability), well, they’d just be shooting blanks. Bang.

When we look at our lives, do we leave traces of war, death and pain with others or do we leave a legacy of love, light and peace? Where and how do we use our calibre? I have decided that if someone has the ability of a prodigy but lacks character, they can go shoot blanks elsewhere. We can and I do appreciate ability deeply, but can do that from close or afar. I am considering the people around me, and I would far rather be surrounded with people of fine character than people with incredible ability and arrogance at a similar level. Someone with integrity and character is far more likely to use what ability they do have for good than someone with questionable character and high ability as it will likely often be self-serving. Technically, the abilities we have can enhance our communities if we use them for collective good; character determines what we do with our abilities. Again, it is a case of yin and yang – complements rather than opposites, or separates, or mutually exclusive concepts.

It takes more than ability to make one truly successful. In my books, character trumps ability in the calibre sweepstakes.  Ability can take a person only so far. It is character that determines the kind of people in our lives, and the relational legacy we leave. I have nothing against guns, they have their uses – it’s about where and why we aim, where and why we shoot.

We all leave a legacy. I would like to one day be remembered for who I am and the relationships I have had more so than just for what I have done in my lifetime.

This is not about judgement – it is more about mercy, courage and truth, about who we choose to have in our lives and most importantly, it is about the kind of person we choose to be. This naturally determines who we have in our lives.

At the end of the day: We each stand alone in a field with our character.


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