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7-13-2011 @ 12:19PM
Something personal, let's see...My all-time hero is probably my grandfather. I had my parents and they did parenty things, but it was really my grandpa that brought me up to be aware of myself, of what I do, and what it means to other people. He was the guy that, if I did something right, would clap me on the shoulder and say, "you did good." He was also the guy that, if I did something wrong, would look me in the eyes and say, "you messed up, son."He was also the guy that taught me to drink. When I was 15 on Christmas Eve, he pulled me aside and handed me an Old Fashioned. I expected it to be virgin, but it wasn't. I was like, "Whoa, grandpa, I'm not supposed to have this!!!" He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "You're at home. You're with me. Don't be stupid with it and there won't be any problems." It took away the mystery of alcohol, the clandestine allure, the temptation of a forbidden thing. It wasn't mysterious or forbidden. It was just a thing, and as long as I treated the thing with respect and responsibility, there would be no problems. I had no urge to do stupid things with it as a teenager thanks to that exchange, and the Old Fashioned has been my drink of choice ever since. We drank them together every holiday.He was a guy that always had has shit together and never lost control of a situation. He had the patience of a saint. Even when he was being shouted at, even when someone was throwing a tantrum or generally being a petulant child, he would just sit and wait you out. He wouldn't try to match your shouting. He would rumble your name once, "Alex!" as a warning that you were making a fool of yourself. And then he would wait. Even if you leapt up and stormed out of the house, he wouldn't try to chase you or track you down. He would sit there and he would wait until you realized you were being an idiot and went back to him.I think he's why I can let things roll of my back so easily. He taught me that there's never a reason to get truly upset or angry. Most problems in life, whether its relationships or financial or whatever else, come down to a simple question. Can you fix it? If you can fix it, then go do it. If you can't fix it, move on and find something that you can fix in the meantime.Inheriting that approach to life from him has backfired on me sometimes, admittedly! I have a hard time relating to highly emotional people. I find it hard to understand why a person might be truly and honestly in a wreck over a problem, because I take that binary approach to everything. I've only cried a few times in my entire life, for example. It's not because I don't feel things, and it's not a point of manliness to me, I just don't approach life in a way where it feels necessary. I don't have those deep, emotional, visceral responses. Can I fix the problem? Yes or no, neither requires you to lose control of yourself. Fix it or don't. No fretting, no panicking. Do it or don't.When he died, I was stonefaced at his funeral while the rest of the family cried their eyes out. He was important to all of us. They interpreted it as I didn't care that he was gone, which was completely untrue. Of course I cared. But crying wouldn't bring him back, it wasn't a problem I could fix, so my concern was elsewhere: in his absence, what COULD I fix? What would the family need with him gone? Was there anything that he did for my parents, my siblings, my cousins, my aunts and uncles that I could do for them instead? No, there wasn't much at the time, but I still help them whenever I can to emulate how he lived. Now that I'm a little older and am much better off, I can help them so much more and it feels pretty good and I understand why he lived like he did.... good enough? :D
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