Tuesday, March 2, 2010


As an apartment painter in New York, I once asked Isaac Asimov, a science and fiction writer of some renown and also a customer of mine, to write me a note of recommendation. The two of us smirked as he willingly complied.

Who would ever collect letters of recommendation from anyone who didn't like them or wasn't willing to lie for them? So the two of us were smirking that anyone in their right mind would credit a letter of recommendation more than they might credit their own eyes and ears and brains.

I thought of this yesterday when I was talking with a plumber about putting in a new toilet. He had been here before and done a good job on several small matters. More, we understood eachother pretty well: When I asked him if he took something off for cash, he replied immediately, "You're my kind of guy." And so when I asked him about the toilet, he said to me, "It's not just some Home Depot piece of crap. This is a good one." And he gave me a price I could live with.

But is it? I'm no toilet aficionado, though I do know enough to ask some salient questions. But in the end, well, I had to trust him to keep his word and that he wasn't some grab-the-money-and-run CEO type.

Trust is interesting. You're always flying by the seat of your pants, no matter how reassured or assured you may be. It's risky. No one can know the future and no one can know the depths and breadths of another. So ... it's a crap shoot despite all the reassurances.

I gathered quite a bunch of written recommendations for my painting business. Mostly they gathered dust, but occasionally some lawyer or doctor would ask ... before I realized that doctors, lawyers and priests were not people I wanted to work for. Nevertheless, I would look them over from time to time, pat myself on the back and then smirk.

The kind of people I wanted to work for were not the kind who needed someone else to tell them that trust was all they had to go by in the end. Sometimes that trust proves warranted. Sometimes not.

Same in spiritual life....

Luck of the draw.

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