The question you requested (and, of course, some more reflections you didn’t request)

Asking questions can be harder than answering them!

Since you asked me for a question, I’ve been struggling to come up with one that’ll require hard reflection but you can still answer before our vacation <grin>.

But, one question keeps coming back to me, as unformed and problematic as it is. So here goes:

What do you want?

Feel free to take that wherever you like. Go big or small, short-term or long, however the spirit moves you. World peace? Decent Italian food in Williamsburg, VA? A clear direction in life? Mets in the World Series? Something doable?

Oh, and feel free to be completely provisional. Your answer will not be carved in granite.


Meanwhile, your previous post made me reflect a little more deeply on what I already told you (which means you’re doing your job)!

First of all, as for no longer being self-centered, I’m better — but I’m parsecs* away from perfect. If you doubt that, ask your mom <grin>.

As for what you said about “That was not the same Bill Camarda who takes several online college courses and until his dad’s death, called him almost every day for years”…

Number one, I can’t take all the credit for all those phone calls. I’d be lying if I let that stood. There were a lot of days when Mom picked up the phone and made that call.

Mom and Grandpa Sam had a special and wonderful relationship. But still — why Mom, why not me? Because the introvert in me wasn’t always up to the task of talking to another human — even my own Dad.

I’m still working on that, but you can bet there are some conversations I never had with my parents that I wish I’d had now. This appears to be one of the life lessons you’ve figured out decades before I did. You’re sure as heck working on it sooner than I did…

And am I the same Bill Camarda anyhow? Is anyone the same person they were 40 years ago? Doesn’t one want to be partly the same and partly different? To grow from a certain foundation that doesn’t change? You wake up in the morning and there ought to be some continuity with the person who went to sleep the night before, and the night before that. On the other hand, I know some people that don’t seem to have grown a bit in 40 years, and God are they ever boring.

In some ways I’m very different, in other ways I can see a vivid bright-colored thread linking “that” Bill to “this” one. Using your example, while I skipped practically a whole year of classes, even that year I was perpetually ravenous to learn new stuff. It just happened to be about the management of college food services and restaurants. (I’ll never forget reading an ad for a long cylindrical simulated hard-boiled egg product — and then seeing it the following week in Friendly’s. But again I digress.)

Lots of my quirks are still there. Though I’ve definitely sanded down many of the socially rough edges. I could have easily been one of the more off-the-beaten-track folks you see at Connecticon. Every weekend, I could easily be playing in Scrabble tournaments or dressing up in medieval costume. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those! In fact, sometimes I’m tempted! I just mean, I could be way more eccentric than I already am <grin>.

As for my imperfections, one thing that’s been nice about getting older is they don’t bother me as much. I’m still trying really hard to improve (that’s one thing I really like about myself). But I’ve become more forgiving when I (often) don’t completely succeed.

All of which takes me to that guilt thing. You made me think more about that, too. I stand by what I (and the scriptwriter from Wall Street) said. But when I think harder about it, what made me straighten up and fly right vis-a-vis my parents wasn’t the sudden discovery of guilt. Things started to get better when I started to feel better about myself as a person. As soon as that started to happen, it dawned on me what a jerk I’d been to them, and I was able to start doing something about it.

So the guilt was useful. But I would have probably kept ignoring it if I hadn’t first developed some authentically good feelings that gave the strength to face it.

As an aside, one thing I learned from my own personal growth process — and I’m talking about through my 20s and 30s — no matter how bad things get, they really can improve. People can work on the stuff that’s most dysfunctional about themselves — the stuff where they really get in their own way, and prevent themselves from finding happiness. And they can get to like themselves for who they are. I know that sounds like a total cliche, but like most cliches it’s based on something true and important.

First time I heard about that “It Gets Better” campaign, I thought: this is spot on, not just for gay kids, or even for every struggling young person, but for a lot of “no-longer-kids,” too.

Does any of that make any sense?


*I am again gently encouraging you to listen to those astronomy videos.




1 Comment

  1. Pingback: My hero, Deresiewicz, returns: What is college (and an education) for? | A Father and Son Converse...

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