12 Days of 31: The Fly and Corpse
I didn’t have the most stellar undergrad experience while attending The University of Southern Mississippi, but maybe the one thing I retained from a rarely attended class was a quote from an African studies textbook.
“Without supervision, a fly follows the corpse into the ground.” Anonymous African Proverb
Was it the most profound thing I’ve ever heard? No, but I think it anchored to my spirit in an effort to tell me something. Oddly enough, I always thought it referred to my supervising others.
I Misread It
In reality, it was me over the course of my life that went unsupervised. I had supervisors in my career, but I think a more clear distinction is that there were no real mentors.
It’s like most men in America. We cling to our mom for the first few years, and then our innate desire for male bonding kicks in and it’s like hitting a brick wall. So, what do guys do? We either go looking for mentors or just struggle to do the best we can.
Guys, like flies, need instruction and coaching. Today I thought about a 7th grade football game. For whatever reason, the coaches told me to call my own plays at quarterback.
As a young kid, I thought it was fantastic, and had visions of Stabler, Staubach, Bradshaw, Manning (Archie) and Tarkenton. In reality, it was a horrible idea to allow a 13-year-old to go unsupervised. The score reflected it.
I was fortunate to connect with men as I got older who took an interest in my academics and career. I still thank those who are around, and honor those who have passed.
Leah had a few issues adjusting to the way I interacted with the boys when we first met and married. She’d only, and always seen them react around her. FYI: Boys behave very different around their moms.
But, she trusted that I wouldn’t allow either of her flies to follow corpses. In return, I committed to mentor them in a relationship that I’d never known. Although my father was there, he was just physically present. I did what I wanted to do no matter how many graves I buzzed into.
It’s a different cultural dynamic these days, but it doesn’t dismiss the natural, biological need for guys to seek out mentors. They need the interaction and behavior modelling experiences by watching men.
Hopefully for all of our boys, it’ll help direct them into the clear blue skies of life while avoiding the stench of open graves.