I’ve got a friend who lives up on Flathead Lake, just outside of Lakeside, Montana. He’s got a place right on the water, a cabin that he and his father constructed. He built an addition to it several years ago, and there have been some upgrades here and there, but its still essentially that same cabin built by human hands. Its a hauntingly beautiful place.
My friend is a writer and a poet. He uses a word quite a bit – congruence – which is very important to him and functions like a north star in his life. Basically the word means “in harmony” or that “the outside matches the inside.” My friend wants his words and actions to truck with the things he believes in his head. He’s not perfect, but he does a pretty good job of living a life of congruence. Its not easy, even if you live in a picturesque cabin on Flathead Lake. But the alternative is living a life that’s divided against itself; in other words, a lie. So the effort is worth it for him.
I would say it is for me as well. I grew up in the South, and I cannot recall ever hearing the word congruence, but there was a phrase people used to describe the same thing: practice what you preach. People who didn’t practice what they preached we called “hypocrites.” Do your words and actions match up with the thoughts that roll around in your head? Or do you find yourself saying or doing things that run cross-grain to what you believe? We talk a lot here at Buffalo Jackson about “the rugged gentleman.” That ruggedness can play itself out in a variety of ways, depending on personality, background, etc. But there is a core to the gentleman piece that doesn’t waver, whether you’re from Montana or Mississippi. That’s right – congruence.
If you simply want to be rugged, then go for it. But if you aspire to be a rugged gentleman, then make sure there is a congruence to your life. The goal is not perfection (which can be boring), but striving each and every day to practice what you preach. Living a life like that is attractive to men, women, children, and animals. Again, its not easy by any means. But most things in this life worth doing are hard. And who knows, you might end up in a cabin on a lake one of these days, enjoying the fruits of a life lived in harmony. That’d be worth it, huh?