Years ago, my father told me that I was over-idealistic, that I didn’t see what was obvious.  “Everyone has potential,” he said, leaning back into his chair and looking thoughtfully at the ceiling, “but few people actually live up to it.”  I wondered if all the years of working as an attorney had soured him to human nature.  He never really enjoyed it, although he always had a quick smile and a witty story to share.  “People can misrepresent themselves at will, sweetheart; that’s their perogative.”

At the time, I thought all adults were somehow the magical keepers of rational thought.  It worried me that the ones I observed were no better than the snotty kids from third grade.  To whom could I turn for a ruling or understanding?  If they all were tussling about for dibs on the monkey bars, there was little chance they’d offer reasonable explanations of the mysteries of life.

“If you measure yourself by the standards of those around you, then you will become no better.”  Why did Dad always make sense of the nonsensical?  “In the end, the only person you’ll have to answer to is yourself.”   He was right, of course, but it took me half a lifetime to concur.  The first half was spent hanging upside down on those goddamned monkey bars.


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