A Spokane Kepi and the Taste of Success

imagesLast weekend we headed out west to welcome Reilly Dooris and his family into the FTF family. We did this with a Kepi (sometimes called a Supra). The Kepi is a toasting dinner originating in the Georgian Republic, the Caucuses. The Dooris family Kepi started at 7 pm and ended about 4:30 am. We got up from the table at 2:30 am and began to play music, something I’ve seen Georgians do on many occasions. Guitars, drums, that thing that looks like a washboard, an egg shaker beat keeper and well, loud, beautiful people singing their hearts out. This Kepi was magical, an essential event in the life of an FTF field worker! Reilly now heads out to begin his 20 month service to the people of Guatemala and the community of Hogar Ayau. We are all better for this night, and closer too.


As a symbol of our work, the Kepi has become the essential FTF articulation of what it means to be successful as an organization. For us, it is the living embodiment of a job well done. In that way, when we share the Kepi, we literally offer up our vision for success; an aromatic, mouth watering morsel of what human success tastes like. Taste this night and see if you like it. If you do, you will like what we do. It’s that simple.

But let me make it a little less simple by saying a little bit more. In particular, I want to talk about the Kepi effect. I think this thing, this Kepi thing, is the ultimate game changer. It is the belle metrique that we’ve managed to screw up for the last three hundred years. So let’s start with a little history and philosophy as a way to understand the Kepi effect as both the means to and the measure of success.

During most of human history the measurement of a man was found in the wealth of his relationships. What do I mean by this? Well, for the most part, a man was someone who could create, and here I mean procreate, relationships. This meant children, and children demanded a wife, or a woman of some sort, and all of this meant wealth, at least some wealth of some kind, at his disposal. And for most of human history all of this could only occur with the help of the extended family. The family arranged the deal. Helped with the loan (the dowry). In some ways, a man or a woman could only become as prosperous as Uncle Charlie and Aunt Minnie allowed them to be. Uncles and aunts and grandparents and mom and dad meant everything to a young person because they meant everything when it came to the acquisition of relationships. The most important of these relationships was the spouse. Acquiring a spouse was the single most important transaction, if I may call it that, in a persons life. It was the Wall Street gambit, the major merge and the most auspicious acquisition. And it was never done alone.

Until today.

Today men find wives on their own. They hunt and gather wives. They test drive women in search of wives and they do it all on their own. Women do the same. They hunt too, alone. Don't get me wrong, single people get help. Bar owners provide drinking locations. Match.com gives you a place to download a picture and cute little aphorisms. Friends text suggestions, buddies point out the "hotties" and fly wingman on "get the digits" missions.  But this kind of help is not what I am talking about. Today young people have to choose, for themselves, by themselves and their self is singular. Rarely do single moderns consider what their uncle thinks when choosing a mate. Rarely do they wait to marry until their mother approves. Sure, they want approval but to actually wait for it, to actually say something like, "Nope, can't do it baby, my mom says no"? Well, this is crazy talk. And why? Because the building block of civilization has changed, the foundation on which society is built is no longer the family and has instead become the individual. You see, no one can understand "me" the way I understand me, and my reality is the only reality that counts... to me. I am the arbiter of truth, and that truth ultimately ends in a phrase something like, "This is my life and so I must live it my way."

And that's that. There it is. My life. My choice. My wife. My husband. And this conclusion is just fine and dandy unless you are willing to beg, and I mean beg like a hound, one little question:

What makes you think you know yourself and your life any better than say, Jake the tech guy at your job?

I'm serious. What makes you think you see yourself clearly when day after day Jake has to answer your emails about his computer problem, that is really your computer problem, which has everything to do with your inability to follow directions? I mean where did you (and here of course I mean me) get the notion that you could see clearly into your own head when you can't even see that your impatience makes you really, really bad at following directions? And what about that ugly pimple on your own butt? The one behind you that demands a hand held mirror, angled ever so slightly over your shoulder into the big bathroom mirror? The pimple you didn't even know you had until your girlfriend told you about it? That pimple. What makes you think you can see clearly into your own mind when you can’t even see clearly over your own shoulder? I mean introspection is a helluva thing.  Most of us fail to exercise it because most of us don't even know what it is. Introspection has something to do with humility, but how can modern men like me, taught to trust myself above all else, actually exercise a virtue that starts with a phrase something like, "I don't know squat"? How can I, a hyper adjusted, self-esteem addled man admit that I am nothing and still remain, well, everything?

Here is the truth: I can't.

Something has to give. Either humility hits the road, and with it the ability to see oneself clearly, or ego hits the road and with it the notion that I, me, my "self" is wonderful. If humility increases, ego and the self must decrease. If my ego grows then my ability to "introspect" must shrink. And this is where I think we are today, we modern westerners.  All being is me'ing. And that’s fine unless, well, you want to be healthy. This me idea is super cool for monopoly makers and UFC fighters, but unto itself, as a stand alone idea or a way to organize society, well, it is simply unhealthy. It makes us miserable in many ways. It makes us unbalanced, and mostly it makes us lonely. It makes us sick. But what about the table and the Kepi thing? How does your little rant tie into the Kepi? In the next blog I’ll tell you how... and I can’t wait.

Blog, EventsJohn HeersComment