In a speech at Harvard Law School on February 16, 1990, Charlton Heston started with the following story…
“I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. ‘My daddy,’ he said, ‘pretends to be people.’”
Charlton Heston then continued, “There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testament, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo.”
Wow, what a list! Many of us can probably remember him playing many, if not all, of those characters. Charlton Heston truly was gifted in getting us to connect with the hearts and minds of those great men that he portrayed. All of them had a certain kind of class.
Over my lifetime, I have met so many people that had that unmistakable class, or what we sometimes like to call having “it.” That certain assured calmness that permeates the very air around them. They do not have to try to display “it,” it is just there.
One example of someone I knew personally who had “it” was Coach Bryant, one of the best college football coaches of all time. While playing for him in the early ’70s at the University of Alabama, I would watch him walk into a room. People there might not know who he was, but they knew that he was somebody by the way he carried himself.
Coach Bryant carried a card with him that contained his personal definition of CLASS:
Class never runs scared. It is sure footed and confident that it can handle whatever comes along.
Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.
Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of petty sacrifices.
Class bespeaks an aristocracy unrelated to ancestors or money. A blue blood can be totally without class, while the son of an Alabama dirt farmer may ooze class from every pore.
Class can walk with kings and keep the common touch, and talk with crowds and keep its virtue.
Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he, first of all, is comfortable with himself.
So many of us are afraid and scared, and continually make excuses—and we don’t learn from our mistakes. Regrettably, we repeat history and fail to get better because we are stuck in a rut. My definition of a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.
For so many people there is a deep unrest and emptiness that we continually try to cover over. We focus on people, success, possessions, achievements, money, comfort, acceptance, beauty, romance, power, and a myriad of other things that I’d like to call “fillers.”
We mistakenly think these can meet the needs of our hearts, yet they never do.
So many of us work so hard to be accepted by others, whether they are family members, friends or strangers, we lose track of who we really are. We work so hard trying to control how others perceive us, we might not even like the person we have turned into. We become great actors because we are in the throes of being uncomfortable with ourselves.
One of the best songs ever written is titled, “It Is Well With My Soul.” This is where “it” all starts.
I would like to challenge us all for 2017 to make a choice to quit being actors. We need to look in the mirror, and start to like what we see. It will not be instant or quick—it’s simply deciding on a path to follow, and then following it.
Think about it!•