I consider my Dad to be the most intelligent man I have ever met. He is unshakable under pressure, quiet in demeanor, genuine with every word he speaks and carries himself with such a command of presence you can not help but feel awe inspired just to be near him. When he shakes your hand he looks you in the eye but really you feel as if he is looking at your soul. His strength is matched only by his compassion for others and his integrity is commutual to few, most being historical figures of inspiration. I do not fear death near as much as I fear disappointing him but even if, he forgives as easy as he acknowledges the wrong.
He has, over the years, left me some bits of wisdom that were either passed on to him, derived from his own experiences in life or from hard lessons I have learned through out the course of my childhood. So now I will share a few with you so you can see how fortunate I am to have the father I do.
“Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”
The main point of this saying is basically don’t fall into the trap of arguing with someone who is argumentative. There are people who just don’t feel comfortable unless there is drama, tension or just negativity surrounding them. It’s better to just walk away because to engage them at all means they win.
Case in point: I was in the fifth grade and there was a girl, Danielle Forgotherlastname, and she was just relentless in her jeers and jokes at my expense. Looking back on it now I am sure this was a fifth grade girl’s way of expressing a crush but that was missed by me. On a particular day I put Dad’s choice words of wisdom on hold and fired back at Danielle. I can’t really remember what it was that I said but it elicited tears. When questioned by my teacher why I would say such a mean thing, I apologized and told her, “I didn’t mean to wrestle with a pig.” Well, the lesson was missed by Mrs. Samson and the Principal. At least my folks knew what I meant.
“Once a rock leaves your hand, you have no control over it”
This one seems pretty straight forward to most but it was a hard one for me to learn. I don’t know why but whenever I mean to hit something by means of throwing the percentage is never as good as if I mean to “scare” someone by means of throwing a rock. I guess that has always been my luck. I have no skills when it comes to warning shots. It is either a bulls-eye or a ridiculous miss.
Case in point: It doesn’t make sense now but many years ago I was engaged in a rock war with a few friends. It was over some distance so the danger of getting your bell rung by a rock was low. However, if the opposing team was hiding behind a Mercedes Benz a collateral hit was eminent. So after a few minutes of skirmish I threw the shot heard around the neighborhood. I knew the second it left my hand where it was headed so while it was still on trajectory I turned and ran back to the house. I didn’t see it hit but within a few minutes the phone rang at home confirming that it was a direct one. Soon my Dad sat me down and told me that they had to pay for a new rear window and this would cost me a week confined to the yard. A small price to pay for what I thought at the time cost 15 million dollars. He left me with those immortal words of wisdom and we hugged it out.
A few years later the statement was revised from “rock” to “anything” after I was suspended for throwing an apple in the cafeteria, knocking down the clock on the wall. I had to. It was a triple dog dare.
“Spend your life, don’t save it”
I think this is a lesson my father learned later in life. After the death of his two parents that was within a year apart, he he adopted a new out look on life. He has always put his career on the forefront. Not really because he wanted to but because he felt he had to. He told me this and it was the first time I saw him as fallible. I guess when death happens that close it is hard not to reflect on your own mortality. This saying is my least favorite. It rings true but every time he says it I am resentful. He still is more of a man, less of a God to me.
Case in point: I have only seen Dad drunk a few times. As of late he has taken a huge interest in collecting wines and a couple Christmas’s ago I saw him after a wine party. He was wearing a Santa hat that was slumped forward. With his eyes squinted and a slight grin he softly said, “they gave me a hat”. It was priceless.
“History is not a fact, it is an interpretation”
I have to admit that this was a hard one for me to understand. His point was that things come to pass in life and the end result maybe a fact but why it happened is different through others opinions. It is a statement that taught me tolerance, patience, the ability to be opened minded and when to keep my mouth shut.
Case in point: I used to argue politics for fun. Then I realized no matter who went against my opinion there was little, if anything, they could say that would sway my opinion. I went through life believing I was smarter than anyone who didn’t see the way I did and (gasp) I began to become an asshole. That is until I argued with my Dad. He disarmed my stubborn opinion by patience, understanding and a brief explanation of why, in his mind, we are where we are today. I left with a feeling of enlightenment but still held true to my opinion. He wasn’t out to change my mind but to explain his interpretation. And he did it without a need to have a winner and a loser.
These are only four of the many wise sayings my father has. I believe they have had an impact on my life because he uses them less and less. I know he is waiting for the day I have children of my own so he can, one more time, impart his endless wisdom but he knows that if he doesn’t get to, I will. I count my blessings to have him as a Dad. He is my confidant, my teacher, and my best friend. And I love him so.