Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"What a lovely day to have a slice of humble pie..."

You’re never too old to learn something from your parents.

Today, this realization slapped me in the face and didn’t apologize.

When my parents give me advice, I listen. I come from what I consider to be a very loving but independent family, one in which we laugh at the Leave It To Beaver set of values and Full House hugs and The Brady Bunch openness. Other than the ever-popular “forget about every boy who’s ever broken your heart” gem that my mom’s been giving me lately, my parents don’t freely distribute advice to my brother and me, nor do we ask them to. We are content in our simple lifestyles of brutal sarcasm, personal solitude, and lack of questions.

Today, though, both my parents gave me a piece of advice that will be very beneficial to my happiness, health, and longevity of life. They told me that I need to stop panicking and worrying about everything that can and does go wrong. “Worrying about it won’t change it, so why worry? You’ll have a million situations in your life bigger than this and a million more important things that you’ll have to worry about.”

What a lovely day to have a slice of humble pie, indeed. I love those little moments when someone whom you regard as incredibly intelligent just blows you away with some tiny insight that, in your eyes, is larger than the universe.

Now, let me explain. Those of you who know me… I was going to type “Those of you who know me well,” but I think even people who don’t know me that well can still figure this one out… anyway, those of you who know me, know that I tend to freak out very easily. It’s not something of which I’m proud, but it’s definitely a part of who I am and something I have to deal with every day.

In the past, I’ve tried to overlook it, to ignore it enough that it would go away on its own. I’ve surrounded myself with laid back friends and adopted their laid back lifestyles, only to watch my assumed identity disintegrate before my eyes with even the hint of a glitch in the smallest plan. I don’t know why I freak out about stupid things… I just do. I always have. And it’s a problem… but I’m working through it.

I know when I’m doing these stupid things. I know that nervous feeling that almost permanently resides in the pit of my stomach is up to no good. When my palms get sweaty just looking at the big blue “W” of the Microsoft Word document of my resume… when I make myself physically sick worrying about the health and well being of my friends and family members… when I cry and need to practice deep breathing procedures through brown paper bags because my car breaks down… I know that I’m overreacting. I know it when I react… but I don’t stop just because I know. Instead, I try to talk myself down from the ledge by insisting that if I’m aware of the needlessness of the detrimental stress I’m causing myself, why shouldn’t I be able to just stop? I try to convince myself that it’s in my own hands, that all I need to do is take the situation by its collar and show it who’s boss. But my own voice falls upon my own deaf ears, and I never once have listened to my reasonings.

What I’m getting at, is that sometimes the only thing that can pull someone back from the edge is simply another person chiming in with the jumper’s own pleas for sanity. For years, I have given myself the same exact piece of advice that my parents gave me today. Word for word, paraphrased, in another language (if I knew one)… but it never hit me until I heard my parents say it. Then, all of the sudden, the measly and trite advice I had been giving myself all along seemed profound and intellectual.

I miss my parents very much when I’m at school. Even though they’re only an hour away physically, it seems like much more mentally. Unlike a lot of students my age, I’m actually looking forward to living at home again after graduation. I miss the friends that my parents have become in the four years that I’ve been away. But our chat this afternoon made me realize that not only do I miss them as friends—equals, peers, people with common interests—but I also miss them as parents—authorities, respected elders, teachers.

1 comment:

Luke said...

I like my pie warmed up in the microwave, then topped off with a little ice cream.