Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Legacy

Every time I sit through a funeral I find myself wondering what my own will be like. (Yes, I know, that's incredibly selfish... selfishness is the cross I bear.) I sometimes think about what it would be like for me to live to an old age and die. I'll be alone. There will be no family to come to my funeral - no children or grandchildren, no nieces or nephews. My friends will be old too - if they're even around anymore. And so I have to wonder... how sad would that be? To live your whole life and have nothing to show for it?

I guess the thing we consider to be a person's legacy most often is their family. What's my legacy? You could say it's your work, but that is an awfully dull thing to be known for. It could be how you treated people, but what if you outlive everyone who knows and loves you?

And on the practical side of things... if you die alone - with no family - then who buries you or cremates you? Who buys your gravestone? Who scatters your ashes? Do you just go away? Fade away from earth without a trace?

And if you don't have a family, then who keeps your genealogy? Who do you pass your prized possessions to? Who takes home my great-great-grandfather's travel trunk and my mother's bedroom suit and my grandmothers quilts?

I guess the answer is no one. I've never felt more depressed about not having a family of my own... and yet, I never really wanted kids! Is it odd that I don't have the "biological" need to procreate, but rather the genealogical compulsion to?

All in all, I think it would be far better for me to die young. That way someone will still know me. There will be butts in the pews at my funeral. Someone will be sad. There will be a sense of lost potential... but at least the loss of potential won't be realized in the way of unfulfilled potential at the end of a long life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Remembering Floyd

My boss's father passed away on Sunday. For most people, that would just be an event of note because it's your boss and you should care. In this case, however, we all knew him. Floyd followed Ken in his ministry. Literally. He moved here when Ken did, following his son from church to church since Floyd himself was retired.

The first time I met Floyd, he told me how wonderful his son was. He said Ken was a great preacher - perhaps the best he'd ever heard. Floyd told me, though, that I'd need to work on Ken to get him to come up with sermon titles.

Little did I know at that point that Floyd would become my biggest fan. Until he fell ill, Floyd came into my office at least once a week and heaped enough praise on me to make up for any frustration a job might entail. He complimented me incessantly. I could do the most simple of things, and he would rave.

To be quite honest, I'm having a very hard time not being selfish about Floyd's passing. I know that he meant so much to his family and to all who encountered him... but what about ME? Who's going to give me compliments now? Who's going to practically frame the printed version of E-News? Who's going to reassure me that I'm a miracle worker?

Well, I guess no one is. And I suppose that's okay... since no one did before I knew Floyd (at least not as regularly as he did). But I just have to say that I'm really going to miss his encouragement and compliments and adoration. Selfish, maybe. But true.

Floyd L. Diehm Obituary

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Criticism: Constructive or Destructive?

I have a friend who always criticizes me. Over the time that we've known each other she's labeled me in three ways in particular that bug me: 1) I'm a negative person; 2) I'm impatient; and 3) I'm intolerant. The first time this happened it was the negative thing. That was in NO WAY how I saw myself. I have some negative friends and I never would have put myself in that category. But I decided to take that into consideration and try to be more aware of the times when I might be negative.

But more recently - the impatient and intolerant thing - totally shocked me. On both counts, I'm just not seeing it. I'm hardly ever in a hurry. I always hear people out. I don't see things as black and white - but shades of gray. I'm just not coming up with proof that these characteristics describe me.

So I asked someone who knows me REALLY well, and she agreed that I was not the most patient person. Ummm... oookay. I asked for examples. She couldn't come up with any.

After mulling over all of this, I'm trying to find a perspective on criticism that will be helpful for me in dealing with this uber-critical friend. On the one hand, I can see that criticism can be constructive and helpful for self-improvement. However, I do think it can also be used by a person to tear those around them down... maybe for building themselves up? Maybe because they want everyone to be just like them? Maybe it's a control issue? I'm not sure what.

All I DO know for sure is that I don't feel good about myself when I'm around this friend. I don't like that feeling. It makes me want to abandon the friendship... because I have lots of other friends who DO make me feel good about myself. Friends who love me for who I am and appreciate the ways in which we are different.

BUT I don't want to abandon friends. I think that being friends with a variety of different people - no matter how odd you may think they are - is part of what makes life enjoyable. I am vastly different than critical-girl, but I like that. She offers a perspective that I don't get from anyone else. I'm just not sure I like her perspective on ME.

I still haven't answered the question in my mind regarding how to learn from this criticism. Maybe it will help me be more aware of how others see me. But, as my favorite quote says, "I stopped caring about what people think of me when I realized how seldom people think of anyone but themselves." It doesn't really matter what one person thinks of me if I'm being the best me I can be.

My personality may be different than yours. I may like different foods or listen to different music or spend my free time differently. But different isn't bad. And a lot of people like me, darnit!