Who We Are….

It’s funny the things we remember, and the things we don’t. It’s funny how two people, experiencing the same thing, remember the experience differently. I remember  the time that my brother and I went out on the lake in Dad’s john boat, to go fishing, and Jacob kept taking us underneath the piers….because, he said, that that’s where the fish were, and we needed to sneak up on them. I am pretty sure, though it was really  just to get a rise out of me. I was terrified of spiders….and guess what is underneath fishing piers…..you got it……  pretty much solid spider webs, with spiders , hiding in the webs, just waiting to jump out and attack you!!!  After the third or fourth pier, I finally got so mad, I jumped out of the boat, and into the lake, (it was only about knee-deep) trespassed through some one’s yard, to get to the street, and furiously marched home, only to meet my dad on the way. I thought he would be my ally and go tell my brother to quit antagonizing me. But Nope….. I was the one who got in trouble for disrupting the neighborhood. I should have known better, and was told to leave my brother alone and let him do his thing. (I think we both remember that pretty much the same. Only difference is, he still thinks it’s funny, and while I can laugh about it now, I definitely would not want to relive the experience.

To be fair, there was a time when I was nine and he was five, and we were on vacation in rural Tomahawk. It was a place in the north woods of Wisconsin, where people had little trailers, or camper trailers, even little cabins.  We had a camper trailer, and were secluded from the others.  We mostly stayed to ourselves, but there was one family up there, that my family had gotten quite close to over the years, so dad, always made it a point to walk over and visit with them. Jake, and I being the only young children, would tire of the visit quickly, so dad would let us go fish from their pier. I guess the fish must not have been biting, because I was bored, and wanted to go swimming.  Dad kept on talking to the Hopsickers for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably really only like  fifteen minutes, or so. Finally I thought of a plan to get in the water.  I talked my brother into hanging upside down at the end of the pier by his knees.  I am not quite sure of how I convinced him to do this, but it probably wasn’t that hard. I figured the only way for him to get out of that position, would be for him to drop into the water. And because he was the younger of us, and the spoiled one, who never got in trouble for anything, I figured if he got in the water first, then either dad would finally come on, and take us out to the sandbar so we could go swimming, and if not, I could jump in too, with the excuse that “He did it first!”  Things, however did not go, quite as planned. In my 42-year-old mind, I cannot even picture how he was able to get into the hanging upside down from his knees position, from the pier. I don’t know how he didn’t just fall into the river backwards….but he didn’t.  It was so funny to seeing him hanging there, his head only a foot or so above the water,  that I couldn’t help but start laughing. Jacob, did not think it was funny at all, and realized he was stuck, and started screaming, “DAD, DAD, DAD.” Over and over. At this point I  realized I should probably run for help. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face as he came running, the Hopsicker bunch right behind him. It was a look both of relief, and “What the heck is going on here?!!”  Jacob was still screaming “DAD, DAD, DAD” And dad shouted for him to just let go. Jake argued that he couldn’t, explaining that he would drown. Dad hollered back that the water was only two feet deep, but Jacob would not let go, until dad got out to the pier, and somehow pulled him up. I just knew I was going to get it, but I don’t think Dad ever even asked questions. He just figured Jacob was being a boy, and left it at that, because I never did get into trouble for my contribution to the predicament.  Once my brother’s feet were firmly on the ground, he recovered quickly. We all started laughing  at the hilarity of the situation, we told the Hopsickers good bye, and started walking back to our campsite, Dad in the middle, and Jake and I on either side of him. Dad would step sideways, and bump into one of us, sending us reeling sideways  and we would come running and bump, sideways  back into him, sending him reeling into the other one of us, if he didn’t step out of the way, in time. We did this all the way back to camp, where we left our poles, put on our life jackets, got in the john boat…..(the same one fore mentioned) and Dad rowed us out to the sandbar, tied a rope to each of us, and let us swim.

Just as my brother can laugh at this story now, I am sure, just as I would not like to relive the fishing under the piers, literally, experience, I am sure he has never again in his life desired to hang upside down from a pier, by his knees.

None of us has had a perfect storybook life. We are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world. Our childhoods, as well as our adult lives, are made up of many stories. It is how we choose to remember those stories, that make us who we are today. I am not suggesting, we change the stories, rewriting them how we would have liked to have experienced them, but rather, there is good and bad in every story. If you stay stuck on the bad, you will become a bitter and angry person, who allows yourself to become imprisoned in a victimized mentality. That mentality will keep you from experiencing  lasting peace and joy, and even love. You may have moments of happiness, when something seems to go your way, but as soon as something goes wrong, you will likely revert to the victim who blames everything and everyone for their unhappiness.  Likewise, if we focus only on the good , and minimize the bad, excuse it, or completely ignore it. This is no better, because that is essentially living in denial, and when we live in denial, we do not grow from our experiences, and we miss the chance to overcome. Therefore we accept what was not good, as normal, and are then destined to repeat the same behaviour and mistakes, that we would have the courage and the wisdom to change, for the better, if we acknowledged that which was good as good, and that which was not good, as not good. We all have stories that we can look back and laugh about, and we all have stories that still hurt. And that’s okay. The WHOLE of those stories, is who we truly are.



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