Being a Contender

January 29, 2015 Post Comment Uncategorised
On The Waterfront
In the classic film “On
the Waterfront”
Marlon Brando’s character Terry Malloy is described as
brooding and inarticulate. He is a minor pawn in the scheme of things and is
pushed around and manipulated by those further up the pecking order. His life
is an example of someone always living at Effect. His verbal and non-verbal
language patterns reflect and maintain this way of being and he is a classic
case of a “Ship of You” with a poor Crew and an almost non-existent
At some point in the film he laments:
don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been
somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am.”

In the film, people, influences and events conspire to fashion changes for
Terry Malloy, and in the end we witness something of a character
transformation. Certainly his Crew and his navigation skills worked better, in
my opinion – though you need to watch the film to really arrive at your own
As in “On the
there are instances in our lives when we’ll think or maybe even
utter some words along the lines of “I coulda been a contender.”
Reflective words that contain all the “what ifs” that may or may not have
happened – provided we’d been a contender in the first place. 
And to be a contender, as we know, means we will have had to
have been in the contest, at the ball game, taking the shots and not sitting in
the stands watching.
Contenders get away from the safety of the harbour and take
to the vast uncharted oceans of their lives with a good Crew and Navigator.
Their level of success, wellbeing, fulfilment and happiness depends on the
balance of the respective levels of artistry and expertise delivered by
Navigator and Crew – on each of their separate sliding scales of mastery.
The thing about Life, however, can be summed up in this Zen-like quote from Yogi Berra –

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going,
because you might not get there.”
Becoming and being your own expert Navigator plays an
important part in being a Contender – getting to where and what you want in the
best possible way; plays a crucial part in discovering and mapping the vast
uncharted areas of our Lives and – beyond that – influencing the lives of

“Where do I start?”

So you want to become an expert Navigator?
Excellent – and the next question you might ask is this:
“Is it hard?”
Not if you have the right attitudes.
Its having the right attitudes that’s hard.

Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance:
An enquiry into values
~ Robert M Pirsig