It was a number of years ago. My father was in his office at the church. I came in to see him though I have no recollection of why. I do know that it was during a time when I was home from college and I’m sure I had some reason for being there as I seldom went into his study (office) when he was preparing for his next sermon.
While it is difficult to put a finger on the “why I was there,” I shall never forget at least this portion of how our conversations turned. His words, though from a loving heart, were intended to drive home a point. His attempt failed. The intention, I’m certain, was to give me instruction, to help or change an attitude he saw as detrimental.
The words “Son, you are so cynical” came out of his mouth with such a low and disapproving tone that it immediately sent that internal wall of protection up. You know the one. The wall that we all use when we feel we are being attacked verbally. It is very much like hearing “on guard” and both gentlemen draw their swords. I was immediately ready for a fight.
Now, I remember that I was young. At that time I’m certain that I knew everything there was to know about anything. Anyone (everyone) at that age, in their first year out of high school and now in college, knows EVERYTHING. They (young college kids) know all there is to know about life. No-one can tell them anything. And I was no different. I had answers. I had knowledge. Nothing my father could say would sway me. I had the tenacity and the drive and the strength to argue and/or fight. And dems was fightin words!!! (poor grammar intended)
I’d have to say that I respect (and respected) my father immensely. His words have stuck with me for many years and do still today on so much of my life. I do not regret that. In fact, I revel in that. He was a wise man and I will always be indebted to him for all that he taught me throughout his life. I was fortunate to have had such a loving father even if we were never able to spend that father/son time that others have enjoyed. Still, his words were wise, his teachings deep, his lessons learned and filed and stored for future life trials and tribulations.
That is not to say that I live by everything he taught. I am my own man and live my life as I see it should be. This is not a derogatory thing. In fact, I can give tribute to my father for that teaching as well. It was never about living his life. It was not about living “his way” so much as it was for me to learn to live my way with thoughtfulness and intent, love, and honor. I, you, anyone can do that and we don’t have to live the same way as someone else. That is what it means to be different.
Dad was a positive thinker. He was a positive liver (not the organ). We disagreed on many things. That was OK. It was kind of like a “live and let live” philosophy. He believed, as I do, that everyone must make life choices for themselves as to what they believe. Those beliefs should be founded on solid principles and should be thought out completely. This does not mean that they can not or will not change. With searching, comes learning, comes knowledge, comes understanding, and then often change of thought and beliefs. But you need to know what you really believe in order to have a place to really make a stand.
So… “Cynical”… I still am. Why? Not because I am a negativist. Quite the opposite and I’m sure that sounds strange. I am a positive minded person. I live positively. I like the positive minded thinker and living because it is just so much better than being negative. Things will be better. They always do get better. I’m better off than I was last year, the year before, the year before that, etc… At least that is how I see it. Why? Because I have learned more. I have changed my thoughts. I have changed my beliefs. I have changed where I stand. I have grown.
So how am I cynical? While I don’t think everyone is out to get me… I do believe that everyone wants what I have (monetarily). I don’t mean that everyone wants to have “exactly” what I have. I mean that everywhere I turn, no matter what is going on, no matter what someone is asking, my cynical side tells me that there is an ulterior motive with very few exceptions. Those that know and love me, I don’t feel that way about (at least not most of the time). Those that I don’t know, yes, they ALWAYS have a personal (to them) agenda. Whether that agenda is to get something done their way, to their benefit, to gain income from me, to move up a ladder of some sort, etc… there “nearly always” is some other agenda other than for “my” benefit. To have someone do something selflessly for the benefit of another without some personal agenda??? Rare… VERY RARE!!!
So… yes… I’m still cynical. It works for me. It keeps me safe. I see the underlying agenda most of the time. That protects me. Keeps me from making stupid decisions based on some sales pitch.
I’m not totally cynical. Just cynical enough. And I hope you are too. If you are not then you are naive. Of course, that is my opinion. What’s yours?