My dad was no philosopher. His exterior and public persona were die-hard business dude. Crisp, tidy and in control defined his personality (oh – and an obsessive fondness for white shirts – learn about that here).
Appearances aside, he had a very squishy marshmallow cream center and from that warm and caring core, he offered endless witticisms. Some were altogether goofy and clearly made up – in the moment – by this man who was rarely at a loss for words. I’m sure he “borrowed” from other great thinkers – never knowing exactly who he was quoting or the context. Didn’t slow him down, not even a beat.
The common denominator? He was wired to help and encourage and on occasion, his advice came in the form of a verbal guard rail – a gentle warning that I might want to steer clear, move along – lest I’ll suffer the impact, the outcome, the collision. His years of married life with mom surely helped him craft this gift. Battle scars and strategy can do that.
None of these meaningful morsels are written down – anywhere. If asked to recall and catalogue them – I just can’t. They appear, oddly when I need them the most, and that too is a reminder to my often-wayward spiritual self to RECEIVE without overthinking.
Here’s an example. As a kid, whenever I found myself noodling on issues outside my sphere of influence (daily dramas and annoyances – the things that are oh-so easy to crab about) he’d see the look on my face or hear the venomous tone and offer a low, monotone message, in a wonky, put-on Southern drawl:
“Mm hmm…best to keep your eyes on your own paper, missy” and that was it.
Just like that! He conveyed that he heard me (win #1) and offered advice to move on – quit the twisting and fussing (win #2).
Eyes on my own paper, indeed. Advice that still works, years later. If I embroidered, I’d consider putting that on a pillow.
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