Are You in or are you Out?

It’s a reasonable question. You’ve most likely heard it a few times in action movies. You know, the ones where a pivotal decision must be made. Join up or go away. Often in the movies, you get gone in various unpleasant ways. Gator has experienced the question a few times. One of those times was dicey, guns and badges and unpleasantness in the offing. He made the right decision. Still around, no club affiliation resulting. Gator could have been in a different organization had he made the wrong decision. Other clubs, vying for his decision, were even more unpleasant. No badges, just the guns.

Are you in, or are you out? Tough choice at times, even the benign ‘clubs’ offer recognition and public notices of that. We all join up, really, all of us. The offers come at us our whole lives and it starts pretty early on. The sports team, class officers, teachers assistant, hall monitor. Decisions that last our whole lives. It’s not on Facebook, it’s in the class yearbook. A moment in time that some of us are still living in. We see it a lot. “Remember Miss Bertie’s physics class? You were her assistant and pet student!”So?

Often, the joining is almost involuntary and known by us to be critical for survival. Back in ‘the days’ Gator joined an outfit that promised skilled training and excitement with nice uniforms. Saved his life perhaps but had other things, unpleasant things to go with it. He had to join, the other outfit wanted him too, all they promised at best was a quick death. The process was called the draft, but now it is just a term to describe selection for a sports team. Join up! Promotion guaranteed and fame to go with it.

We all have to make these decisions to join or not in our lives. Most often, the decisions are not even a problem. Unless, of course, your friends think it’s a bad idea. Gator seeks council over seemingly trivial decisions to join a team/club/association etc. Gator does not join anything easily, even temporary things. Protest marches or sit ins were popular for a bit. Then the unpleasant tear gas, rubber bullets and the new invention of plastic tie straps. The record of the experience resulting in something a bit worse that a parking ticket. Another club for life. A record of offense and even incarceration as initiation.

Joining benevolent organizations are hard for Gator too. They promise camaraderie and friendships with people. If you follow the rules, which often includes a dress code. Gator is just wary and afraid that this joining up will turn into another club. Initiations such as crossing the equator and becoming a shell-back (Navy stuff) are fun and humiliating and that’s it. Military ‘clubs’ are different in a way that reduces the seriousness and actually builds camaraderie. Last memories before the waves wash over you. Or perhaps the thunder of a crushed hull below. Terrifying it is said but quick. Maybe Gator’s original club of the Navy boats (subs) wasn’t such a good idea anyway. Dangerous club for sure.

The last club Gator wanted to join was helping manage a township. All he had to do was sign up and put his hat in the ring and write a glowing biography and wait for the vote. Nervous and excited on the day, Gator lost to other men by a very small margin. Another club he actually wanted to join and was rejected as somewhat undesirable or inadequate perhaps. It took a while to see the Lord’s hand in this too. Protected and also available to do other things with the time. Good things too, of this Gator is assured. A good, hard lesson for Jack.

So Gator has had a hard time with clubs. It very well may be because he has joined so few, been invited to less, and somehow always felt ‘out of it’ Gator did join the best club. . The kind that welcomes his hunger and thirst and an organization that promises eternal joy and fulfillment. You know it. The real outfit that guarantees all those things in writing. You have to ask the creator of the club to join. Membership is lifetime and eternal. The club, amazingly that all of us are asked to join. At the clubhouse the music is heavenly. It’s pretty good. Jack

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