|His white beard has been earned through wisdom!|
I’ve been reading this book called The Last Lecture. It’s about a college professor that finds out he has a few months to live and decides to write life lessons he wishes he could share with his children.
The book is a great read even though the premise is quite depressing. It got me thinking about my father and his lessons. There are several but I will mention only one for now.
I was going through my first big break-up and really nervous and scared. I called my dad bawling my eyes out. As I was sitting on my stoop, eyes red and the world ending in my 23-year-old head, he said to me the following: Jen, we are born into this world alone and we die alone. The only one you need to hold yourself accountable to or take care of is yourself.
I thought a lot about this and have always carried it with me no matter what the situation. It’s helped me leave relationships that needed leaving, change jobs, not compromise on my ideals or who I am as a person and also, on occasion, driven me to advise people in the same manner.
One of the many instances where I was trying to help someone happened on my way to Mexico on a business trip last February. I was sitting next to an older woman and she started some small talk with me and bought me a drink. We were drinking those lovely miniature bottles of wine they give on planes and then she started bawling her eyes out about a daughter who I reminded her of. Then came details of a messy divorce after 26 years of marriage and how her life was an absolute disaster and she was going to Mexico to decompress etc.
I wanted to be sympathetic and all I could think of saying was: well, you’re born into this world alone and you die alone.
It did not come out sounding like my father’s tone of it’s okay, you’re a responsible adult, you can take on the world, you just need yourself. Instead it came out sounding far more cynical and hopeless.
Then came the kicker. This woman with such sorrow in her eyes said: I wasn’t born alone, I’m a twin!
Then she started talking about how her twin sister wouldn’t talk to her either.
Here I am thinking in my head: Goddamn it, Jen! The one time you try and make someone feel better or give some sort of advice and this happens. Of course she’s a twin, of course the ONE time you use someone else’s line she happens to be the exception.
I bought the next round after that.