Essay – Influence

An entire lifetime spanning so many years, is divided into smaller lifetimes, or books. These books of our life are further divided into chapters. I think the books are finished and started with major events or changes and these can be happy, joyous, sad, perhaps a death or tragedy. The chapters within each are related with a thread tying them together that defines the person we are at the moment in time. All of these books collect the experiences we have endured, the people we have met, what we have learned and ignored, and the view we have taken of the world.

The second book of my life started when I was 6-years old.

Many years have passed. 33 to be exact. If I stop for a moment and think about everything that has happened, both personally, and in the world, I am overwhelmed, almost in a state of panic. Like the changing sea, it is endless and never stops, never takes a break. Yet, without us noticing, we are constantly being affected, and our actions are influenced directly and indirectly by the things we do not see.

Who we are as a whole, our outside appearance, may not noticeably change, but the core of ourself, the thoughts and actions, how we process information, and how we think about the world and in turn react to events, does. I believe it is in a constant state of change that turns our being over and over, the same as a stone within the currents.

How we grow from this depends on more immediate influences and our roots, our upbringing, a sense of humility, and awareness.

33 years ago I was fortunate to gain a real father after mom remarried. This greatly changed the direction of my life. I look back now and cannot imagine the other person. I doubt I would recognize or have anything in common with them if we sat down for a cup of coffee.

Like any family, there was tension, fights, raised voices, and doors slamming. There was the frustration of algebra and geometry homework, the chores of lawn mowing and picking up after the dogs.  But there was also the endless hours of playing catch in the backyard and the continuous encouragement.

As I struggled to find independence and define the person I wanted to be, I fought against rules, what I thought others were defining for me, and forged any path that was different.

When I look back on these 33 years, I realize the great influence pops had, and in his silent way, I have followed in his footsteps, and for that I am grateful.  Mom will tease and say “you are just like your father” and I genuinely say “thank you”.  That is probably the best complement I could get.

I understand to get anywhere requires hard work, long hours of dedication, and some personal sacrifice. And when you achieve something, appreciate it and never take anything for granted. Each day should be cherished, along with the people in your life, and family. At the end of the day, work is just work and you should take time to enjoy what you have over a traditional Sunday dinner or watching a football game.

Every time I mow the grass or take care of the dog, I think back to those long summer days and how I complained and put up a fuss. Now, I actually enjoy these tasks beneath the summer and fall sky.

I hope that I have become the person pops wanted, as I know I have become a man because of him.

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