Whose Life is it, Anyway?

I was driving in my neighborhood this morning and recognized a walker as someone I used to go to high school with. At a glance he looked like he wasn’t the happiest of campers and I wondered about that as I drove on.  Of course, a first glance can be so deceiving but then there is the scientific fact that our primal brain takes in thousands of particles of information and makes quick judgements beyond the speed of light. So if that is true, my first glance has some truth to it. This person excelled in sports and his father was instrumental since he had been the head coach at our school. I wondered how much that has played out, so to speak. Had his father put added expectations on him to play sports and on looking back, did he resent that parental pressure? Had he lived up to his father’s expectations or to his own? I wondered.

That got me to thinking about my parental role. Had I also put my aspirations onto my children? I know I talked about the importance of getting an education and going to college. Since I hadn’t gone to college but always wanted too, I made sure my girls knew that they would need an education as a leg up to a good career. So from my perspective, that wasn’t really putting undue pressure on them, it was just stating the obvious. But if I am being honest, I do see how my unfulfilled goals or dreams of an academic career among many other lost dreams, had carried over to them. It’s funny how that happens. Our own life experiences cannot help but to bleed over to our loved ones….both the good and the bad.

I have been reading a lot of articles lately about the human brain…the wonders of unknown territory of the subliminal mind.  So much of how we act out is due to the subconscious part of our brain.  Visually I think of this huge iceberg and how what is underneath the water is where the complexities and perhaps our unresolved life experiences reside. I even have a picture of an iceberg at my home office to remind myself of the hidden depths of who I really am. What lies outside the line of vision is nothing as to what is within my head…buried but never forgotten? As children how we are talked to and, how we are treated become those parts of us that are submerged in our deepest sub consciousness.  Those memories become our inner voice; how we think about our self and all that self-talk that goes on in our deepest recesses that will all be played out in some way or another; the good, the bad and the ugly.

So then….how will my children translate their childhood to become the adults they are evolving to be? Will they live up to their own expectations and their own goals and dreams or mine for them? I hope they learn early on to live their lives according to where their deep love and passions take them. It is after all, their journey of life and not mine.

So what started out as me seeing this person from my past and wondering about how his father influenced his life now becomes how my children view their pasts and how I might have influenced their choices in life. My thoughts even go back to my own childhood and I try to recapture how all the nuances of voices and faces and words said and unsaid that helped to formulate who I would become…me. Scary stuff because I am the youngest of 7…older brothers and older sisters. We are all connected strongly and deeply to one another in that under-the-water-iceberg sort of way. I have depended, no needed, the strength and character of my older siblings to evolve to be who I am. They have each in their own way been the strongest force of evolution in my evolvement. They molded my character as much as any DNA. Who might I have been without their nagging, building up, tearing down, and total construction of me? I looked up to them for guidance yes, but also how to dance the cool jerk in the 60’s. Without my good looking brother, I am sure I wouldn’t have had nearly as many girlfriends that wanted to come over to my house since they all had crushes on his Ivy League good looks. I need them all like the air I breathe. Their love for me as a baby sister changed at some point to see me as I am…a woman and that has been the defining moment. To be valued by the ones we love is something we can only appreciate as we grow older and reflect backwards on our life. We can be grateful but until we see how harsh and cruel life can be sometimes we never truly realize the gift of a family that not only supports but loves you with forgiving eyes.

I hope my children will someday view each other with that same vision of love and see that our connectedness is one of the greatest gifts we can have for each other. If I could give one piece of advice to my children it would be to treasure one another and cherish always the ones that lift you up. Construct not destruct; or as one would say…do no harm. Abraham Lincoln said it best, “All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.”

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