Posts Tagged ‘teenage memories’

Learning is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily. (Chinese proverb)

The anniversary of my father’s death was this week. One of the gifts he gave me is a phrase he repeated during my teens: “Consider the source.” Like most adolescents I didn’t have a clear notion of who I was. Every critical word ate through me as if it were acid. I reveled in J.D. Salinger’s coming of age novels. Romance bored me. I wanted to read about people who saw the world from a unique perspective. I wondered why I was so different, and didn’t realize that my self-questioning probably wasn’t much different than other kids’ thoughts about themselves.

Being one of the popular kids—such a glorious thought—but for me it would have been easier to understand how to make rain fall back into the clouds, fountain style.

“They’re just jealous,” my mother would say. That notion escaped me completely, even though it felt good at the time. Jealous of what? Sure, I’d written a one-act play that won first prize in the Greater Cincinnati area. My grades were better than average. I sang soprano relatively well. But those things never came up in ordinary conversation, especially when the other kids told me I had cooties. I looked in the mirror and wondered what set me apart; it never told me.

I didn’t know that consider the source, three simple words, needed decades to learn. The source of people’s actions and words come from diverse places. Most of the time they tell more about the giver than they do the recipient. The flatterer may want something and the detractor could be jealous, self-involved, or simply unaware.

I can still hear my father’s tone as he spoke to me. It didn’t carry censure, as if one person were right and the other wrong. He asked me to consider the whole. If the taunt came only to make the speaker appear superior, it had no substance. If I chose to be mean-spirited, that would create a win for my adversary—and a loss for my character.

Now, I don’t remember the specific events of three days ago. So, if I decide to live in a past decade most of it will be false memory. Even if I recall every uncomfortable second exactly as it occurred, I would be losing this precious present moment. My skin doesn’t fit as well as it did then, but my spirit has a better notion about who this 67-year-old woman is. Oh, I still have plenty to learn. I misunderstand often enough to need to apologize more often than I would like to admit.

However, I cherish my father’s teaching and I cherish the life he gave me. This day is an opportunity. I pray that I use it well.

only visit the past

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