In the house where I grew up things were black and white, left and right, no tolerance for aberration. I chaffed under that repression, it simply wasn't me.
In reality I was a good kid, didn't party, did well in school, volunteered as a candystriper at the hospital and nursing home, and was chosen as "Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year". That one was a laugh, it certainly cracked me up, but the win was based on essay writing, and I was good at that. (I'm sure that Betty is still rolling in her grave at my lack of domestic diva talents.)
The problem was that I questioned too much, always asking why this or that was right or wrong, and how could it be the only way? Why couldn't we just all get along, and did our preacher really believe that all the Buddhists and all the Muslims were going to burn in Hell? (Yes, he did, and I nearly was dropped from the confirmation class over that debate.)
Then there was the problem of dress... no, you can't part your long hair down the middle, or wear granny glasses, or God-forbid leave the house without a bra! (How I wish I could get away with that now, but alas gravity takes a toll.)
Part of what appealed to me about my first marriage was simply the getting away from all that. So I went the other extreme, choosing a partner and a lifestyle that couldn't have been more different from the way that I was raised. What? You are managing a boarding house for eleven single young men? Don't you know you're going to burn in Hell for adopting that strange religion? And what kind of parents are you anyway? (In reality I was a good mommy, but I declined to dress my baby in the requisite pastel pink and bunny prints... opting instead for bright tie-dyed pajamas that I sewed for her myself. (That probably accounts for the struggles she's had in life! ;-)
My sisters, perfect products of the middle class, they got it "right"... with formal weddings and matching china, and forks and knives that didn't come from the dollar store. My involvement with those children on the reservation? What an embarrassment. "Can't you just do some normal service project in your community?" And on... and on... and on. And don't even get them started on my writing.... "You always go on, and on, and on."
I thank God that I grew up to know my own mind, to question social injustice and any other bull@*&# that didn't make any sense. I don't choose my friends by their creed, class, color, or sexual orientation, and I don't limit family to blood relation. I don't dress in the latest fashion, and I don't spend my hard-earned money on high-dollar shoes. (Actually, it goes for cat food :-)
The older I got the more I realized how important it is to be yourself, and to have a flexible mind. No one fits perfectly inside the boxes, not all the ready-made rules apply. Sometimes new ways of looking at things are better, and some of the old-fashioned ways weren't all wrong.
Long ago, a sign hung on the kitchen wall of the house where I stayed for a time. It said... "Some solid, concrete people are mixed up and set in their ways." I've never forgotten those words, I take them as a warning of the dangers of living strictly in the realm of black and white, left and right.
The dinosaurs were unable to adapt to their changing environment, they weren't the least bit flexible in how they dealt with life, and we know what became of them! I hope I never become so rigid in my thinking that I am unwilling to consider realities that are different from my own. Perhaps that's why I enjoy getting into deep conversations and asking so many pointed questions... "Give me something to ponder please, inspire me, teach me something new!"
I'm linking up with Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose
here this week's writing prompt is "flexible"