Monday, April 29, 2013

Fostering a sense of stewardship

After reading the Vintagent's article entitled "Prouve, Ennui, and the Problem of Cash", I began to reflect on my own sense of stewardship and how best to foster this important notion in others.  In our modern culture of the present, where things are pre-disposed to be disposable, what will people be saving for the future?  If we could only know what would be valuable in the future, would we hoard all we could find today?  What will we save, pass on to future generations of our own family or others who share our delight?  We are merely stewards of this world and all the things in it anyway.  We can take none of it with us, why not preserve it for someone else to enjoy!

I look at my friends and acquaintances who have amassed collections of objects that no one at the time would consider even worth saving, and wonder what will my son choose to consider important enough to keep throughout his life.  (He's already been instructed that he must save his Noggin the Nog books for his own children.)  Chet collects early speakers, Ron collects radios, and Dale collects amateur radio gear.  Matt even made his love of antiquities and coffee into a lucrative business.

I look at myself and consider if I have failed in successful stewardship?  I've already sent a few automobiles to the scrapper.  I tried to preserve them with as little ability that I had at the time.  The need for repair and upkeep overwhelmed me and they were of no use any longer, and worth more as recycled material than the wondrous means of freedom and travel that they once were in my youth.  I'm sure my father would be overjoyed if I showed a glimmer of interest in his 1946 Cessna, which he has maintained faithfully as possible since before I was born.  He stored it for more than 20 years in the garage when he had neither time nor money to spend on it.  The times we spent together flying and fixing will always be remembered as great experiences.  Pass the story with the machinery, and it becomes even more of a legend.

How would I feel if the tables were turned, and my own son wanted nothing to do with this 1949 Sunbeam motorcycle?  Everyone takes their own path.  Today he'd sell it in a second for a steam engine.  The act of careful stewardship is never in vain, only the stories can be lost and the objects aged.  Even the elusive Barn Find has a unique and exciting mystery of its own.  If my own son doesn't take an interest, then someone else will be there to pass the torch to.  Hopefully there will be a future steward to honor the story of the past stewards.

I was always told to take care of my things.  I see now that they aren't my things.  They are the things that I've been entrusted the care of.  Some shortsightedly were abused and misused, others were treasured.  The experience of fatherhood deepens the sense that not only am I the steward of things, but of people and attitudes as well.  Not all of us can be like Barney Pollard, even fighting off the government to preserve a collection.  We can be good stewards of what we do have though.  By choosing the right things to save, and the best things to entrust to others we can more effectively further our stewardship.  There's no sense in becoming buried alive.

Stewardship and Experience together bonded in a Story allow these objects to gain value.  Not just in the sense of currency, but as part of our own lives filling us with richer experiences we would never gain otherwise.  These such heroes live on because they acted with good stewardship.  My wife kept her first car... our 1967 Sunbeam Imp.  Eduardo Pallazo made it possible for me to take over the care of a unique 1966 Sunbeam Imp.  Dr. John F. Patt made is possible for me to care for a very original 1949 Sunbeam S7 Deluxe.  Their immortal stories live on through the continued stewardship and the promise that their stories will be passed along too.  Shake their hand, look them in the eye and share the stories when the torch is passed.  I hope I've provided some inspiration.

In the words of Ian Anderson...
"Once I used to join in, every boy and girl was my friend
Now there's revolution but they don't know what they're fighting
Let us close our eyes, outside their lives go on much faster
Oh, we won't give in, we'll keep living in the past"

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