The Buck Stops Here
I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions.
I used to pinpoint one bad habit or another and fail miserably by the end of the month.
So this year I think I’ll broaden my scope and remember the lessons my relatives taught me — both good and bad — that can make me think about what I need to do to be a better person in 2014.
One great lesson came from my dad, which is patience in general. After living in California for many years, my patience was tried often and began slipping.
It’s easier to be patient in Missouri where life is slower but I vow to remember that sometimes I need to just slow down and listen more.
The other virtue my dad taught me was his incredible ability to look at the big picture.
I often react too quickly to something someone says or does without thinking about the context, timing and what it means in the larger frame of things.
Essentially what my dad was saying was “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
One of my uncles taught me the virtue of staying tight with the family and I will try to do more of that this year as well. I’ve learned through the years what family means at a time of crisis and you never know when that’s coming.
I also know from a now-deceased relative that burning your bridges with the family will leave you alone to die, which is exactly what happened to him.
Another uncle gave me a good lesson on how not to treat people in general. This uncle was brilliant, educated, a world traveler, often pleasant but completely full of himself.
You didn’t have discussions with my uncle. He conducted monologues during which you were occasionally allowed to slip the proverbial word in edgewise.
His message was always the same, which was he was right and you were obviously wrong because he was more learned, intelligent and richer than you were.
It was the “Don’t bother me knave” syndrome.
On a positive note, that uncle and my aunt were major factors in the integration of the St. Louis County schools and taught me that equality is paramount. I’ll try to continue to live up to that one this year.
My other aunt and mother taught me to be diligent about what I was doing, often through their incredible cooking. Stick by the proven recipe and good things will come was their message.
One thing they both taught me to avoid was holding grudges, because they held on to their’s so long. I see nothing positive in refusing to forgive or understand a human transgression that happened 20 years ago.
I have nothing huge to resolve in 2014. But I do promise to reflect on the lessons my loved ones gave me, both good and bad.