Friday, November 11, 2005

stories worth a thousand words #50



Written: January 1, 2005

It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
(Counting Crows)

I was fumbling through my bag for deodorant this morning when I came across half a joint leftover from my recent trip to Amsterdam with my friend John.

It was practically a gift from the gods as far as I was concerned. I had one chapter left to write in this book, and could think of no better way to get it done than to set up my laptop in my room upstairs, drawing inspiration for a fitting climax to my autobiographical work with every drag of what I intend to be my last taste of illegal substances for a long time while I attempt to take charge of my own life once and for all.

New Year’s Day is one for both reflecting on past mistakes and planning future successes, and as I have composed the various chapters I realise that this is exactly what I have been doing for myself with this project. I have found the last few months going over my actions of the last 35 plus years extremely therapeutic, slowly but surely learning virtually all that I was unwittingly setting out to teach myself.

I have learned that it is pointless to continuously punish yourself for your past mistakes. All that does is virtually guarantee that you will continue making them. My career choices up to now have been made with absolutely no foresight, yet over the last couple of years I have done nothing but see forward; now I have the desire, I have the motivation, I have the determination to contribute to society in whatever way I can.

I have learned that no matter how much I put it off, I will one day have to confront my mother and tell her exactly what I think of her. She needs to know what a comparatively easy ride she has had while first allowing her parents to take care of me when I was too young, and now sitting idly by while her son reciprocates for her parents when they are too old.

I have learned that one of the reasons I give my mother such a hard time is that practically all of her negative qualities; the laziness, the selfishness, the failure to realise her true potential, the fear of asserting herself in social situations on any level, the blatant inability to empathize with anyone on anything that doesn’t directly relate to her own life, are all qualities I am afraid are all to present in my own personal repertoire. The difference is, I know it, and am willing to do something about it.

I have learned not to be ashamed of what I believe, just because I know there are many that will oppose me. Around 200,000 people died in South-East Asia after an earthquake was closely followed by tsunami all over the region. The survivors badly need help and organization, and the county most qualified to send trained personnel, The United States of America, my nation of birth, supposedly land of the free and home of the brave, has its hands cruelly tied elsewhere. This is wrong and I will not allow my aspiration to see a world where humans can work together to be ridiculed by anyone from this day forth.

I have learned that providing for your family does not purely involve spending quality time with them, nor does it entail constantly showering them with gifts. I can’t expect to sit back and watch them grow if I’m not willing to grow myself. My priorities have to be with Sandra, RA and CJ for the time being. I will do the best I can with limited resources for my grandmother, and if she takes resentment towards me to her deathbed for this, then so be it, it is a pill I will have to swallow.

I have learned that no matter how much effort you put into getting a message across, people perceive things in their own way, and there is precious little you can do about it in the long run, so fuck it, be yourself. That’s why I tried to go with the “warts ‘n all” with these essays, since it applies to the writing as much as it does the content.

So...what can I hope for my offspring to learn from all of this? That their daddy was a lazy git? That he smoked a bit of pot in his day? That he wrote some songs? That he had a wandering eye for the ladies? Hopefully this one last story will illustrate the most important wisdom I can bestow onto my children.

I doubt you will ever meet someone more clumsy and scatterbrained than myself. I am forever dropping things, spilling things, losing things, rearranging trips because I forgot things, and much, much more. Though it is a quality I put way down my list of Things To Beat Myself Up Over, when the birth of my first child RA was imminent, the thought crossed my mind way more than once that it was very possible that I may hold my newborn daughter as if she were a bar of wet soap, and thus her life would be in great jeopardy!

From the first day I held her, there was no question of any harm coming to her, nor her brother a couple of years later. Despite all my anxiety in anticipating the unknown, when the time came, I was fine.

So kids, whatever you do, don’t you DARE be afraid to pursue your dreams based on fears of what might go wrong. You both have talent, but talent is worthless without desire. That’s the most valuable advice I can give you.

Well - that, and reminding you to always wash behind your ears.

© JL Pagano 2005


Click here for full index of all 50 chapters

Thanks to all my readers who kept coming back to read chapter after chapter. I haven't exactly run a country or climbed Everest to warrant writing an autobiography, but I really hope one day my kids will get something from these stories, and it has been great to be able to test drive them on my blog before I lock them away until they are older.


kieran said...

Well done Mr. Pagano! And thank you for the many interesting reads. I must say, I'm quite sad to see this party come to it's end.

Anyone else thing he should do another 50?

shandi said...

This may be your best post. You did a wonderful job wrapping up the series. You obviously have learned so much about yourself during this past year. I thought I knew myself so well. However, there's just something about blogging that makes these little observations so much more "real".
Seeing it in print maybe... or admitting our flaws in a public forum maybe... I don't know.
So, what are you gonna do next?

Heidi said...

I agree with Shandi that this is definitely one of your best posts, JL.

I've always liked the "warts 'n all" honesty portrayed in your writing. I believe your children will appreciate it as well.

Thank you for sharing your autobiography with us. I look forward to seeing what you will do next! :)