Well, the dentist can’t see me today, so I pop some more pain pills and wait it out. Moreover, the weather for the next two days is set to be very stormy. I also have to wait for my daughter to come home before I can continue helping her with the remodeling of the house, so I may as well get back to blogging.
Somehow I got to thinking about the older generation, the one that’s passed. My father-in-law had a life-long drinking problem, imbibing daily though staying “half-sober” much of the time. It wasn’t good and it led to other serious problems, but as I got to know him I found a man who was a pleasure to talk with when he was more sober than usual. At the time, it seemed surprising that he had some wisdom to impart to me, but he did and I listened. He had lived with an alcoholic father who had barely survived years of ruinous warfare in the trenches of Belgium during World War One. My own father had symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress for many years after cruel experiences fighting the Japanese and surviving a shot to the head, but fortunately for our family, he did not take to the bottle. There were things to learn about him also, and from him. I respected both these men, and learned to accept both sides of each one.
One of the great things I absorbed from my years in the field of mental health is that people grow into their healthy selves to the extent that they’re able to relate to the significant people in their lives. And by “relating” was meant a balanced acceptance of others, taking the good with the bad, and thereby learning to accept ourselves as well, with our own lousy side as well as our better nature. I think I became more genuine and accepting of my clients when I learned their personal histories, which usually involved much abuse in the early part of their lives. And I got to appreciate them when I learned how they were keeping on with life anyway. They all had strengths, some of them significantly so.
This is partly why I enjoy reading history, the stories of people and their lives, how they responded to the challenges in their world and time. I do acknowledge that I live in a changing society and have never thought that I had to imitate people of old, but I have grown and learned a lot from those who have gone before. And I am learning still. In my blogs I feel as if I am continuing that dialogue with some of them.
I don’t write to convince my readers of much. It’s mostly just to put some thoughts out there. I can’t expect people to agree with everything I report in these short pieces –I don’t even do that myself. I do hope they are interesting enough for folks to read in their busy days, and it does me some good to put words together. Thinking is good, discussion is better, knowing our roots is useful, growing to accept the contributions and tribulations of those who went before us is even more useful.