Back in the blog seat after a very long holiday season. I hope you all are feeling warm and cozy.
2017 seems to be the year that is starting off in a way that can’t help but have a profound impact on our lives. Coming off of 2016, we in the United States have a very divisive new president about to be inaugurated into office, and there is a very new kind of daily stress. I will just call it Trump Stress. It is real and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Locally here in Portland more snow has fallen and at a faster rate than ever in my lifetime. It was a mess. Parts of Portland are still a mess. Winter is coming indeed.
So that leads to my question on this first blog of the year:
Who or what has left the biggest imprint on you?
This may be a very easy question to answer depending on how much insight and experience you have examining your own life. Or maybe it will jumpstart your own personal exploration. I hope that it does.
What (or who) you think has the most impact might surprise a family member or loved one if you share it—that’s okay. There is potentially a big difference between what looks like it could leave a big impact from the outside and what actually leaves a tremendous impact on you internally. Some people like to keep this sort of thing private even. They may even lie about it. To themselves or to others. Even if you might be overselling one issue versus another your attitude about the thing you pick probably suggests a lot about your experience to it.
If you don’t know exactly what the answer is—or if you do and want to go deeper—the next step is to think about how this thing shaped your emotional life.
I feel like I can self disclose here a little bit. It is no new piece of information for long term readers that I am a son of a Croatian mother who immigrated to the US after meeting my American father. Being the son of an immigrant leaves a pretty big imprint. Language, culture, norms, expectations, manners of dress, communication, all of that got affected by my experience of very different parents.
What imprinted on you probably happened quite early as well. Even if, like in my example, the consequences of my multicultural family were not necessarily felt, experienced or understood until much later in my life. Sometimes the impact can be delayed, as mine was. I didn’t know right away that my family was any different than those of my friends or neighbors. I learned though, sometimes casually, sometimes traumatically, that it was not.
Quite a big impact indeed.
Later impacts are certainly possible. Going to war, marriage, a death. These possibilities can always leave their mark.
What makes you the way you are? And then, how do you feel about your answer?
I recently watched the (late and missed) Carrie Fisher documentary, Wishful Drinking, and she was recalling a conversation she had with her then teenage daughter, Billy Lourd.
“If you want to be a comic, you have to be a writer. But don’t worry you got tons of material. Your mother is a manic depressive drug addict, your father is gay. Your grandmother tap dances and your grandfather eats hearing aids.
And my daughter laughs and laughs and laughs. And I said Billy, the fact that you know that’s funny is going to save your whole life.”
The point being: we can’t change what happened to us. But we can change how we let those things affect us. We can laugh, we can let go, we can forgive, we can learn to give ourselves what others could not, we can move on in ways that let us live lives worth having despite the scars and the painful memories.
It is my hope that we all can get better at that in 2017 and beyond.