Sunday, September 28, 2008

who knows? -- 2

Is stoicism passed by genes or environment? doesn't matter, for it was passed onto me at an early age.

My motto for decades became, not "Just do it," but instead "just deal with it." I really couldn't get why people were troubled by bad things they had to face. Of course I wasn't facing much of anything, but that was despite the point.

I can imagine a small boy hiding, crying, running away, throwing tantrums... anything to get out of going to the doctor. and maybe I did. but I don't remember doing any of those things. I think that I just grinned and bared it. When I began to face my past, I looked up stoic in a dictionary and stared at myself. One of the wise folk, who led me to healing, told me, "It saved you. It was your strategy to get through it, but you might want to think of other options now that you are in your late 30's."

Then their is the stoic love that my parents gave me. OK, so they were not programmed to do much hugging or saying the words, I Love You, however, one can show love through actions. Within a clean house containing no violence... praising my successes, taking me to grandmothers who made me quilts and strudel, planting seeds of faith, taking me to his work place where I saw my dad in a new light (come to my classroom and see me in a different light), playing basketball and ping pong with me, feeding me real mashed potatoes and homemade apple pie, taking me to cool places (all those Phillies games as a child has led to a man who was just so happy when that double play ended the game yesterday!!!!!) and what about those vacations including the epic drive to see the Rockies, Yellowstone, Badlands...

And then there was the gift of a second chance when I crashed and burned. Then giving me a rare hug when that second chance led to success.

I know my dad held my hand while the urologist did his thing, until the doctor advised I go it alone. I think I became more human on the day I tried to imagine how hard all those doctor visits were for him.

And though we didn't talk about it much, when the appointments rolled around my mom gave me the gift of hope. "maybe one day you won't have to go anymore." I didn't believe her and I don't think they ended as she thought they would, but I am a man who is usually hopeful.


  1. I used to think it was all environment and then I had kids. I think the way in which we face adversity is strongly influenced by our family. Your parents sound terrific and I'm glad that your hope stayed intact. I'm coming to believe that it might be the most important thing.

  2. I've been thinking about this post on and off all afternoon.

    I'm glad you are a man of hope, too.

  3. Kathryn-- well they weren't perfect, but boy oh boy I tested their stoicism in my teens, and I have imagined where I might have ended up if I hadn't had that stable home. my teens...that is for another post.

    Gannet gal-- that is how I think about things, but I have a slightly disfunctional on/off switch... that is yet another post...

    remind me if my switch goes off.


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