Grateful for wisdom found in unlikely places. Like “NCIS-LA,” and specifically episode 15, “Tuhon,” written by Dave Kalstein. In an improbable scene, mysterious retired assassin Tuhon poses a question to agents G Callen and Sam Hanna that’s a perspective buster if I ever heard one.
“It’s your fire,” Tuhon says. “You’re in a dark room. Everyone you love is in there. All your family, all your friends. A flame comes out of nowhere. It’s hot. It gets hotter. Your heart starts bobbling. You can only take one person by the hand and lead them out. Whom do you choose?”
For Sam, it’s his kid. Callen, in keeping with his upbringing, walks out alone. They look expectantly at Tuhon.
“My flame is at the end of a candle I just placed on my son’s birthday cake,” he says. “Whole family watches him make a wish and blow out the candle. Then I get him by the hand and lead him to the next room where all his presents are waiting.”
“You didn’t say we could answer that way,” Callen chides.
“I didn’t say your couldn’t,” Tuhon answers. “It’s your fire. It can be whatever you want it to be.”
At first, it feels like the slap of surprising perspective across the face: pass by the expected, seek new views, cultivate the unexpected. As I think about it, though, I realize there’s something more in that short patch of dialogue that compels us to dig a little deeper and realize something: It’s incredibly easy to live life in ruts — relying on autopilot, following paths of least resistance, sleepwalking.
We like to think that events and situations in our lives shape us. But I don’t think they do, really. How we approach those events and view those situations — how we respond to them all — are what shapes us, not life itself. We hold that power in our perspective.
“It’s your fire. It can be whatever you want it to be.” Grateful for that insight.