Tuesday, May 15, 2007
What I am
Edie Brickell:

I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know if you know what I mean

Philosophy, is the talk on a cereal box
Religion, is a smile on a dog

I'm not aware of too many things
i know what I know if you know what I mean

Chuck me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep

What I am is what I am are you what you are or what
What I am is what I am are you what you are or what

I caught myself thinking this morning as I steered the Jeep toward work about how I got to be who I am and where I'm at. That song seemed appropriate in so many ways.

So, in the vein of trying to get back to writing and doing some reflective self-inspection, this post is dedicated to What I am.

I am, first and foremost, a product of my parents. From my mother, I learned strength and courage. She was a single mom and a stepmother and a mother and single again in complicated layers, but she was strong through it all. Mostly. Nobody is perfect. I learned from her that a woman doesn't need a man to get by in this world. I learned from her that a candy bar is an acceptable lunch. I learned from her that it is not always possible to climb up a pole, but it is often easy to slide down a pole. I learned from her that nothing can stop my force of will.

From my stepmother I learned that there is nothing that I can not attempt. I won't always succeed, but there is nothing to keep me from trying. She also taught me that sometimes you have to throw the instructions out and figure it out for yourself. She taught me to make gravy and deglaze a pan and make bread. She taught me to solve my own problems.

From my father, I learned to change my own oil and my own tires - because a woman can't always count on a man. At his insistence, I learned to cook a good heart-warming, belly-filling, man-satisfying meal (lessons given by my stepmother) because he didn't want my man to starve. I learned to drive a standard transmission (and a tractor, a mule, a combine, etc) because of my father. I learned to love agriculture because of my father. I learned to love history and politics because of his lectures. He urged me to think for myself, evaluate arguments and weigh evidence. He taught me to shoot. He taught me how to clean my gun. He taught me that my life was worth defending. He taught me to not think in the victim mindset. He taught me to speak my mind, to have an opinion, to be informed. He taught me that education is more than books and not to accept everything any teacher said. He taught me that I am a force to be reckoned with.

From my sister I learned patience. I learned comraderie and trust and teamwork from my relationship with my sister. If I am a powerful force on my own, the two of us are the perfect storm of effectiveness. I learned from my sister than not all things are what they at first appear.

From my baby sister, I learned that being an only child is a terrible burden and the ugly side of peer pressure.

I have learned the limitless depth of love from my daughter. I have learned to again see the magic of life, the mystery, the wonder of possibility from her. I have seen the smile that saves me everyday on her face.

From my husband I have learned calm. There is no other word to describe the way he makes me feel. Our love is like concrete walls that keep out a hurricane. He is my safe harbor. I am found happiness with him.

I have learned other things from other people. In high school, I learned from my friends that not all mothers are created equal. I learned that teenage boys often need guidance in romantic arenas.

Anyway, the whole reason for this post was because a friend of mine recently said that I never fail at anything I try. This is an incredibly flattering compliment, but it is a lie. I'm just not that good. I fail all of the time. (It took me 6 weeks to develop a petit four recipe that satisfied me.) The difference between me and most people (and the air of success which I believe she was speaking about) comes from my determination. I don't stop trying. I keep working at something until I get the result that I desire. I'm innovative. I don't always take the marked path, sometimes I strike out on my own and carve a new path. It may not be shorter, but it works for me. I am a results-based, goal-oriented, highly-driven, self-starter.

I don't let a little thing like never having done something before stop me from trying. That's all there is to it.

I'm not amazing. I do fail. You just don't always see it because I don't call it failure. I call it another way not to make a light bulb.

That is what I am.


posted by Phoenix | 10:00 AM


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