If You Were Famous

If you were famous and being interviewed, picture yourself being asked the typical type of questions about your formative years like: So what was it like growing up in your family? or What influenced you as a child to become such and such? (whatever it is that you’re now famous for) or Was there a pivotal moment or experience when you were growing up that changed the direction of your life to what it is now?

Inquiring minds want to know…..

Could you answer these types of questions? Have you given it much thought? Do you think you have to wait until you’re famous before you even bother to look at this kind of stuff or that it only matters if you are famous?

I don’t.

So, as for myself, as much as churches, schools and the sesame street puppets did their darndest to push and pull me in certain directions, my answer as to what shaped me the most would have to be…things that I inadvertently overheard…remarks that I wasn’t intended to hear. You know, the things people say about you when they think that you’re not around to hear…remarks such as:

  • I wish he were more like his brother sometimes.
  • He’s so gullible. At times, I wonder if he’s just plain stupid.
  • He’s a bit of an oddball alright. He’s better left alone.
  • Unless he starts to apply himself, he’s never going to amount to much.

Now, granted, these types of remarks are and were most often heard out of context, but that does not minimize their impact on a developing young self. We have all experienced them in one form or another and, perhaps even, we were the ones making the remarks that were being overheard. But in the young heart, with no real point of reference to deal with such statements, we can carry a wound that shapes an identity for decades. Misheard, misunderstood and misapplied…these were the remarks that shaped me greatly.

So I ask you again to pretend for a moment that you’re being interviewed.

Search for the answers that are true but not necessarily pretty.

Maybe you are, like I was, suffering from the wrong ideas all along.

Staring at it won’t change it

At an earlier stage in my life it was pointed out to me that I was fixated on everything that was wrong in the world. The observation was made at a dinner party with friends and wasn’t mean spirited. Since I had never noticed that pattern in myself for myself, I reacted predictably. I denied it.

The comment had struck something inside me though, created a disturbance of sorts, generated a peculiar type of mental nagging that demanded me to do something about it. The truth often works on us like this. The truth doesn’t so much clamor for our attention as much as, once it is pointed out, it just won’t go away.

So I conducted a little experiment on myself. Using lines and slashed to tally just the frequency of my wrong finding thoughts or statements, I kept a count on myself for a whole day. (yeah, I know) I gathered the raw data without censorship, editing or fudging and, when finished, conceded the point. There were 177 instances of me remarking or thinking about something that was wrong….with this or with that or with them….specifically and generally. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It was amazing how adept and dedicated I was to finding faults. Even the positives I saw were quickly qualified by the negative I was sure was coming next.

This realization was an “Aha!” moment of the unpleasant variety. Very unsettling.

You see, I had always considered myself to be a very constructive and positive person. Not that I was particularly happy. (In truth, I couldn’t understand why I was always so agitated) Nevertheless, my whole purpose behind finding the faults, the underlying reason that I gave myself for pointing all this stuff out, was so that the problems could be fixed. Even in myself. Then, perhaps, I would feel better…be happier.

Somehow in my thought processes back then I had confused and convinced myself that ‘seeing’ a problem clearly was the same thing as ‘doing’ something about it.

I stared at the problem(s) and couldn’t understand how they remained unaltered by my intense scrutiny. I was a pain in the ass to many who knew me. I was frustrated and depressed with myself. I hadn’t yet learned that, in life, what you focus your energy on grows.

For sure, recognizing a problem is both initial and necessary.

However, being willing to step into the possible solutions is the only path to relief and joy.