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 Things My Father Taught Me

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Primary Character

Posts : 412
Join date : 2009-10-08

PostSubject: Things My Father Taught Me   Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:01 am

My father and I have never been close. It's nothing specific, just a general lack of understanding. I'm a geologist and he's an engineer, and if you know those groups that's enough to explain. That said, looking back on my childhood I'm finding more and more that his hand guided me more than I gave him credit for.

One thing that my father demanded of himself is that he know whatever he's talking about as completely as possible. Not that he act as though he know it--he never had much patience for pretentious fools--but that he actually have the knowledge. I remember hearing stories of cops pulling guns on him because he wouldn't back down, and stories of how he demonstrated the incompetence of fools by showing precisely where their error lie while sitting in a meeting and without a single reference book on hand. He was right, and what's more he could prove it! Partially it stemmed from the type of man he is. He's a hard man to please, and demands that any task be performed to certain specifications, and he honestly doesn't care who's doing that job, including him. Partially it's his job. As an engineer building bridges and buildings people live and die on his knowledge, and that thought is never far from him.

Today these stories came back to me. I had a meeting with a client to go over a huge project (multi-million dollar, big enough that my entire paycheck for the next five years gets lost in the shuffle). I walked into the meeting armed with four documents--the report we're discussing, two laws, and a list of answers to questions I knew were going to come up. The client asked a number of questions (which was the whole point of the meeting), and I had the answers ready at hand. I know this project, better than I know my own home; I know the rock that underlies each inch of it. My manager made a point of telling me that I had impressed the client doing that.

This shows the importance of stories, more than anything else. I saw my father do this few times, when we were doing home improvements, but I also saw him screw up as often (he can't think visually, while that's what I do ). Mostly, I picked this up through the stories I heard my father tell. They were simple stories, intended to entertain and demonstrate the irrational nature of the rulers of my home county. But at the same time they quietly, without my knowledge, set a standard of behavior in my mind, one which is now so fully integrated into my habits and behaviors that it wasn't until I realized what today reminded me of that I recognized where it came from.

Stories have power. Even simple stories, stories told around a kitchen table and intended to do nothing but entertain can change the course of a person's life permanently. The heroes become our ideals, which properly are our standards of behavior, whether we know it or not. Twenty years from now someone who read a story you wrote may not know why they act as they do, or where they learned the reasoning behind that action, but you will have guided their hand just the same. I've always been abnormally introspective, and this nearly eluded even me.

I guess my point is that this place serves a greater purpose than we typically give it credit for. The stories we tell, and those told to us, become ourselves, in the literal sense. Far from a waste of time, telling stories is perhaps the most important thing we can do. It passes ethics from father to son, passes knowledge from teacher to student, and may even save someone's life.
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Primary Character

Posts : 325
Join date : 2010-03-10
Age : 29

PostSubject: Re: Things My Father Taught Me   Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:22 am

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Its so true though. That's why who somebody is is part nature and part nurture, imo. These little everyday things just pile up and make you the person you are. I think that its the little things you miss when a family member dies (I've been lucky enough to never experience it exactly), like the stories they told you. /sigh I'm gonna go cry now, 'cause I miss my dad (seen him 2x in the past three years, maybe a little more. and he's going to Romania tomorrow and I didn't get a chance to say goodbye).
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