The Rocking Man
I love commercials that make me think… commercials that transcend messages about the marketing of products and services. I like commercials that make us all think about life, kindness, forgiveness, or, in other words, making life not only good for us, but for others. This is the very premise of the Make Life Good! Company.
In the 1980’s a commercial appeared on my television set that I didn’t understand. But I do now. Here is my description of it...
A man is sitting on a rocking chair on a porch in some unknown location. He is rocking slowly while reading a newspaper. It is a slow, unstressed rocking. It is all in silhouette. We are left to imagine where it could be.
I know where I imagine it is. It is at a home that is located on the Northern tip of Block Island, Rhode Island. An enviable location for a home that I will never own. Nor will a lot of other people.
But back to the commercial…
Overlaying the commercial was a narrated soundtrack. It described the horrible events of the day. War, financial disasters, and the sad plights of various people. It made our world sound so ugly, and especially, frightening. It was much like Simon and Garfunkel’s closing song “Silent Night/7 O’Clock News” on the “Scarborough Fair” album.
Despite the ugly events of the day, the “Rocking Man” appeared quite calm and unconcerned.
Was it heartlessness? Or was it something else?
It was the image of a secure man. He did something that made his life that way. The commercial suggested that he made the right investments and bought the right insurances. It cleverly urged us all, in a subliminal way, to draw the same conclusions and invest as he did.
Why do I mention this? I imagine that the folks who own the Block Island home had the same life mindset as the Rocking Man. I know, I know, they could have inherited it all, right? Perhaps.
I like to think that it wasn’t that easy. As I tell my students who ask me to “explain America,” I tell them about the Rocking Man, who followed one of America’s prescriptions for success: educate oneself, graduate from college, pursue strong work opportunities, work hard, advance one’s career, make meaningful investments, and be kind to others. There are other paths, with varying levels of risk. Personally, I like the Rocking Man’s choice.
In the meantime, I think I’ll spend some time on my deck, thinking about life.
I might even buy a rocking chair…
The Make Life Good! Team