note to regular readers : New Orleans is NOT finished! I have even made notes for the future posts…
But March is always nuts work-wise and main goal until retirement is to keep clients happy… but it’s getting close for this week and it’s been intense so wide awake when I should be sleeping… and watching some music from South by Southwest.
As you may have noted, music is a huge part of my life so long ago part of North by Northwest events, which never managed the success of South by Southwest, but required a lot less effort 🙂 As part of the birthday planning this year though, I realized that South by Southwest normally happens ON my birthday so that is the plan for next year…
But it’s now March 21st and five years ago it was Good Friday.
My work life was as nutty as it is right now so it took longer than it likely should have for me to realize my father had died. But it was mostly because the concept was completely surreal. Even when I picked up the message from my mother that sounded distressed, it wasn’t even a possibility in my mind that this would be the news I would receive.
My father wasn’t interested in easy. In life – or death. So it may have been hard for everyone else to deal with but it was characteristic of his attitude toward life.
Part of that of course seemed to involve the concept that he considered himself immortal. You had to know the guy;)
Particularly you had to appreciate it wasn’t an arrogant attitude – but, rather, a highly developed level of self-confidence.
I’m not really sure where it came from. His mother went through the kind of stuff that would kill Oprah with seemingly zero scars and certainly no whining. His father died when he was 10. So there was no question the dude would be tough.
But what was impressive was the positive, life-affirming vibe that he shot out into the world. His mother did the same. Even though there were moments I was scared of both of them and each had areas of his/her personality that could have been improved, they remain two of the most impressive people I have ever met – and I have met A LOT of people 😉
So… to get to the point of this post… which is a tribute to my father on the anniversary of his death…
What I will forever be grateful for is the crazy self-confidence he bred in me from birth. He wasn’t about praise – or even self-esteem. If I ever got a compliment from my father, I don’t remember it. And he might have thrown up if someone had forced him to utter a phrase as lame as “self-esteem”.
I grew up in the old school world where your parents’ job was to criticize you sufficiently that you would grow up to be a civilized human being 😉
But the big message my dad added was that I should do my own thing if it was the right thing. I should develop a morality and a point of view that would guide my life forever – and it should inform all my decisions – and be my bulletproof shield from the outside world if its morality ran amok…
In the over privileged, excessive, shallow developed world of the 21st century, the lessons my father taught me might seem antiquated.
But I am the kind of weirdo who is a natural target for bullies. Not only was I smart and strange, I was also little! I remember being physically abused in fourth grade by some bully girl. But what was great about my parents is that they taught me not to care very much… so I remember going to the principal’s office, I remember some bruises, I remember being confused… but mostly I remember emerging from it all appreciating what matters most is your own sense of self… and – thanks to my great young parents – I had this weird, fuzzy idea that I just needed to ignore the drama and get on with my life…
And that the way to win with bullies is to just say to yourself, “good luck, asshole, I don’t care what you think… success is the best revenge” 😉 I’ve never been interested in being popular because my father kept emphasizing that I should be my own person and not worry about what other people thought. That hardly helps you blend in in high school but it does give you a teflon coating and I have discovered it is the mystery ingredient to popularity in middle age 🙂 These days I’ve given up trying to convince people that I was a shy, strange child incapable of talking to strangers. I’m still strange… but I have learned how to talk to strangers. And I think I’ve done my father proud by focusing on being interesting and kind, rather than popular.
It really works! And being an outlier makes one more sensitive and a better human being I think… so… ignore the bullies, embrace the masses… and never stop trying to be a little bit better at being human… it’s the advice my dad would give… and he was definitely a smart guy 😉