I find that I hear that expression or some variation to it quite often. Nut, apple or Hand grenade it doesn’t really matter the idea is that it never falls far from the tree. the family tree in this case. I was born in the last year of the Baby boom, 1964 and I am aware that there are some out there whom feel that we boomers have had it way too easy and maybe they are right. But of course I am not a millennial or a gen X er so when I look back I think about my mother and father and even my grand parents. My grandparents where grown during WWII and I even had an great Uncle that served in the pacific theater. My Mom was a college graduate and my old man served in peace time in the navy among other things and eventually settled in a fat factory job in my home town. To hear Dad or my Maternal Grandfather talk about it, it all came down to planning and scrimping and saving and working hard.
I worked hard, I scrimped, I planned, how come none of my aspirations came true? Why was I unable to accomplish the simple goals I had set out for myself such as graduate college, work for a short time in the field and then return for a higher degree? Maybe none of this was a question of my bad luck or lack of effort, maybe it was a question of their good luck and lack of effort. It is even possible to admit that with all the effort in the world some has to be said for timing, luck. Nothing is accomplished in the American sense through just hard work.
None of this is really here of there, its just a way to get across just how far a skew my life’s journey has gone. Some times I even wonder if all those people from those not so distant years ago were even real. That instead they might be some figment of my baffled brain. That’s just the way it feels until I hear their voices squeak out from between my lips. For some time I used the word Evidently in stead of “I think so,” and would while on kitchen duty, swamped with complaints about how terrible the food I had prepared was I would hear my self make a noise my maternal grandmother would make under the same circumstances. I found it a bit unsettling at first just how foreign these sounds and words, uttered by my own mouth, sounded. It was as if My grandmother were speaking to me from beyond the grave through my own memories. I hum when I eat, a habit I am trying to break, like my Maternal grandfather did years ago. It was at his knee that I learned what I know about the investment markets before I even started High school. I can feel his influence in the way I think about the world and in the manner in which I assess risk. My father taught me about the importance of PRESENCE as that was his game. The ability to intimidate simple by the way you stood, where you put your hands and when the chips are done, nothing sends shivers down there spine as fast as a nice toothy smile. I learned the reverse as well, how not to intimidate, how to appear safe or harmless and most importantly how to assess who represented what level of danger when I was walking on the streets. My Mother was an intellectual snob with a gift for sarcasm, this I inherited from her and there are I times when I find myself repeated some thing she said over three decades ago verbatim , or so it seems…
The strange thing to me is that they are all dead, so in some way people really do live on not just n the memory of others but in their very personalities. I sometimes wonder what remnants have been passed to me from the distant past from people unknown to any involved. the pieces of themselves handed down by the unsuspecting. How much of me is in the strictest sense, is actually me and not someone else transplanted. This is a question that is impossible to answer. “To Thy Own self be true,” is a famous quote from Shakespeare. That’s how I remember it but hell I could be wrong. I’m pulling this stuff out of my ass after all and I could be mistaken. It leaves an unsettling question which is, how can you be true to yourself if you do not know yourself? I have spent a great deal of time an effort, through meditation and simple introspection trying to understand myself, know myself and it has become apparent to me that there will always be parts of me that I will never know. This is painfully obvious when someone points out a quirk of my behavior that I was previously unaware of, this I appreciated. Whether one finds such a thing ,an event, that they appreciate or that they find irritating is dependent on the personalities involved. Meta, my wife, is a person I wanted to get to know well. She has been a project of mine, to know her moods, to grasp when there is something bothering her that she needs to speak about but maybe feels that she cannot. If there are aspects of myself I cannot know then how much of her can I truly know? There must be aspects to her self that are hidden from me. This is a profound truth that everyone needs to grasp.
There is a point to this, I think.
We had been married for some few years and one of the hobbies we both enjoyed was and is camping. At this time I can’t say exactly when this event happened. There were others but this was the most profound and crisp as it was the first. We were camping at a place called Hearts Content in the Allegheny’s. I remember it because over the first night we were there, in early summer, a strange crop of fungus had popped up all around our campsite. I believe that these strange little critters were fungus but I wouldn’t bet on it. I want to say that they came up over night but maybe they were there the first day and we just didn’t “see” them. At any rate we had taken and interest in these strange pale pink little life forms and were walking out farther in the brush in out effort to survey them. We were talking about something that escapes my recollection. I remember looking at her. She was looking back at me. She was smiling. It was the strangest thing. I am a schizophrenic and I have become accustom to strange visual effects but this was most peculiar. She had become two dimensional in a surreal sense, still in color but yet foreign. I was struck by the fact that I knew nothing about the woman that I had been married to for, by that time three or four years. She was a stranger. I remember asking her, pointing my finger from she to me, “Were Married? That’s right isn’t it?”
She said yes.
I explained that I had just had the intense experience that she was unknown to me. She told me to just let it slid. She had the same experience on occasion when she looked at me. We both agreed that it was an uncomfortable feeling.
In the end you can’t truly know anyone. Knowing is a work in progress, it never ends. We are finally confronted with the odd fact that it is impossible to eliminate risk in our personal relationships. We will lose those we love, we will be betrayed and we will betray. All we have left is to simply trust. It is on trusting where the greatest threat, the most dangerous risk lies. But in the en d we must take that risk if we want to live a meaningful life.
Be Blessed in all things