Saturday, January 23, 2010
The integrity of Jesse Stone
One of the things I like about retirement is having more time to read. Before I retired, reading was something I had to fit around my other "more important" activities. Reading was a vacation luxury. Now reading has become one of the major activities of my day. And I'm getting through a lot more books. I started writing down every book I read back in 2001. At the time I was just mimicking something my mom did as she got older. Now I'm beginning to understand why she did it. I heard on the news the other day that Robert Parker died. I feel sad about that. He was in his late 70's and died while writing at his desk. Like Bing Crosby who died on the golf course, he was doing what he loved. Just within the last few years I started reading Parker's Jesse Stone novels. I've really become quite fond of Jesse Stone and now he is gone with Mr. Parker. Tom Selleck plays the character in the movie versions of the books and it was a good fit. Thinking about why I like Jesse Stone so much the word "integrity" popped into my head. It comes from the latin word "integritas" which means "soundness, whole or complete". Webster's definition of integrity is: firm adherence to a code or standard of values. Jesse Stone has integrity in his role as the police chief of a small town. The rest of his life is a mess, however. Jesse often says that he needs his job because with it, his life makes sense. It transcends his personality and allows him to be his best self. This transcendent role is open, creative and follows the truth where ever it leads. Jesse Stone always puts his drunken, love-starved, jealous personality aside when he is acting as the police chief. He stands up to bad guys, politicians, fellow law men and civilians. I noticed that most of the books and movies I chose in my blog profile have characters inhabiting roles of transcendent integrity. Gus and Call as Texas Rangers in Lonesome Dove, Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan, the butler in Remains of the Day, Jake Holman in the Sand Pebbles and Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff. Like Jesse Stone, they all found their best selves within a role. We all inhabit many roles in this life. What a blessing if we find at least one where we can become our best selves. Thanks to Robert Parker we have another great character of integrity. I just bought a new Jesse Stone novel recently and looking on my "books I've read list" I am pleased to see I haven't read it yet.