What would Monty do?

My best buddy Monty, who died ten weeks ago, was expert at tuning into himself – at not doing things that “don’t serve me”.  I’m not so good at this, do lots of things that don’t serve me – that if I took the time to ask myself, and had a better sensor for what is good for me, I wouldn’t do.  I did three of them last weekend.

I was on a roadtrip.  Me and three other guys were headed to Louisville, KY – them to attend the Humana Theater Festival, me to visit my son, daughter-in-law and grandbaby.  When all four of us had rendezvoused and gotten in the car, John produced a treat he had gotten for us – four beautiful truffles from the Well Bred Bakery in Weaverville.  Had I taken a moment to ask myself what served me in this situation, I would have accessed the fact that I was several days into staying off of sugar.  Eating the truffle didn’t serve me at all!  Life made this really clear when the cocoa powder that my truffle was drenched in just exploded onto my lap, leaving several splotches of chocolate on my tan pants.  There was going to be no way for me to ignore or forget that I had betrayed myself.

If the first instance of my not doing what Monty would do involved letting myself down by indulging in something I had committed not to have, the second instance had to do with denying myself something that I had been trying not to have.   We stopped for lunch at a diner that was so proud of their chili that they served each customer a little taste of it before they ordered.  I liked it a lot, but did not let myself order it because the beef was probably not “ethical meat” – the cows were probably not humanely treated.  Now there are all sorts of snags here: the assumption that the meat served in this restaurant was not ethically treated, the assumption that fish (my usual alternative) suffer less from factory farming than do cows or chickens, the whole concept of “humane slaughter” of animals.

What would Monty have done in this situation?  Unless his choice would not have served him – like eating sugar when I have clear reasons to not have it, he would have eaten what he wanted.  I ended up very dissatisfied with the fried fish I ordered – and jealous of Patrick’s chili.  Could I have known in advance that it would turn out this way?  I think so – if I had tuned into myself and asked myself “What do you really want?”

Monty's choices frequently leaned towards no, but his commitment to do what served him had a very positive thrust.

Monty’s choices frequently leaned towards no, but his commitment to do what served him had a very positive thrust.

The third situation involved my son and granddaughter – and me letting go of decision-making.  My son and daughter-in-law cooked up a plan for her and her mom to take the toddler to the zoo while my son and I would go to a movie – or, actually as it turned out, rent a movie.  There was something to be said for this plan – movies are a rich part of our history together.  But it was a beautiful spring afternoon, I had a short visit and not too much time to be with the baby – and would have preferred going to the zoo.

Monty would very likely not have allowed this situation to happen.  He had a policy of not acting until he got a clear “yes” about proceeding. He said that he sometimes paid a price for this non-action, but that overall it was worth the price.  He would have been much more sensitive to plans being made for him that he had not been part of.  Monty’s whole orientation towards action was based on himself, listening to himself, and not much based on others.  It erred at times towards self-involvement and insensitivity to others.  But there’s no question to me that I could use more of it.

“What would Monty do?” will not always lead to the right choice.  But not taking care of myself in my decision-making may increase depression – and in these three instances I think that asking “What would serve me?” would have been very helpful.

3 thoughts on “What would Monty do?

  1. I am not taking your friend Monty’s inventory, just sharing my own experience. I used to have a friend–Sam–who could say the most ethical sounding things, and was a person who could fix anything and do it RIGHT! For a few years, when confronted with any kind of physical task for myself or someone else, I would ask “What would Sam do?” because my parents had taught me how to look for ethical loopholes and ways to jerry-rig. Then I didn’t see Sam for a couple of years, and found out from his ex-spouse that he was actually quite a demon to her, which is why they are now divorced, and dishonest to his customers. It seems that even though he had a great mind and a wonderful skill set, he only paraded them for selfish ends. I still sometimes ask “What would Sam do”, but now I’m talking about the ideal Sam in my head, not the real one. It was sad to have to make the shift. Since we were not really ever very close, my emotions were not rocked by this change. We can ask what Monty, Jesus or Sam would do, but that would only be a tool to explore our own inner Divine knowing, right? And might that be a path towards leveling out the roller coaster?

    I so appreciate your sharing and how it stimulates me. I’m sending an email question as well.


  2. How appropo!!! I was just thinking about this very subject! So many times I allow myself to be put in situations that are not the best for my health just to please other people or to not cause them inconvenience. I have learned that I have to stand up for myself and not do things that are not going to serve my best interests. Sometimes I feel selfish in thinking this way, but if what I do to please others makes me sick, then I have no energy or health to really serve them when they need it most. I like Monty’s method of not proceeding unless he had a clear “yes”. My own definition of that method is from I Kings 19:11 and 12…that still, small voice from God cannot be heard amid the cacophony of others’ (or my own for that matter) ideas, desires, urges or perceived needs. Only when I take the time to get quiet and be still long enough to listen for that still, small, voice do I make good decisions. And who’s to say that Monty really missed out on anything by waiting too long to say “yes”? Maybe the choices made by not choosing turned out to be the best “road not taken” after all….. :0)


  3. I do believe that Monty’s decision-making was skewed towards “no”. He called himself “the world”s loneliest man” – and I think this came from too many choices away from people and groups. But even more I think that his single-minded focus on what served him left him not paying attention to what served the other person – and this hurt relationships.

    And, with all this, his determination to listen to his own needs in the face of all the pressures put on him to be ‘nice” was heroic and inspirational.


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