Photo: Gordon Parks
Photo: Gordon Parks

My father told me once, as I was trying to justify my suspicions concerning a neighbor’s behavior, that he wastes little time on questioning his judgement. “If I think you did it,” he said, “then you did it.” My father’s perspective has saved me a great deal of time. Instead of equivocating and questioning the judgement and sensibility sure to dissuade me from honoring an unconventional, unconfirmed, and unsupported truth of mine, I have learned to trust my own conclusions and appraisals.

While my embrace of my father’s philosophy may appear abrupt, distancing, unfair, and unfriendly–it is what it is. My father always wanted a son and never made one. I, for one, benefited from the lessons he would’ve taught him. Boys aren’t often commanded to be nice, to question their judgement, to risk their safety for the sake of giving someone another chance. My father gave me another perspective on the value of being outside of another’s favor. Having others dislike you is a fact of life and not liking them either can be an effective way of responding. This doesn’t mean that you have to be mean, spiteful, cruel, or volatile it just means that you accept the reality that people don’t always like one another. My father used his extra time to be draw lines in the sand, I use mine to maintain distance without cultivating contempt.

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