Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to how we get to where we are personality wise and how this affects our lives. In many respects as people, we are the epitome of the definition of dichotomy which is defined as: a division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups.
Even though I am in Christ and am a new creation, as I listened to the Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends” the other day in my car, I realized that the person who first heard that song—and the album it came from in the summer of 1967—is still a part of who I am. And in many respects I still deal with people and the reality that surrounds my daily life in much the same way as I did way back then.
It is not like I haven’t had that same thought before—I have—many times over the years.
Today, as I listened to that song I was back walking the streets of Greenwich Village in New York and hearing “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” coming—it seemed like—from every direction and every little shop that had a radio station turned on. In a very real sense, I was a part of what the Beatles were all about—it was the summer of love and long-haired hippy’s were everywhere but in school.
I had left my home and school and begun my quixotic journey to New York City’s lower east side. I lived in a cold-water flat on 11th steet between avenue B and C and most of the residents—aside from a few artists—were Latino. There were two rooms—a bedroom and a kitchen-dinning room-living room—where the bathtub was covered with a fitted metal piece which turned into a counter top where dinner could be prepared next to the small two-burner stove. Nobody really knew who owned it, but rent would be collected every so often and delivered to an older man who lived on the first floor. We ate a lot of rice-a-roni and I would panhandle on many of the busy streets around my apartment to make ends met.
That’s actually another story altogether but the little that I have shared will give you a sense of what I am alluding to personality wise which leads us to how we think about life and the daily drama’s we face.
Though I am nearing my late 50’s, there is still a little kid inside me who is prone to long walks, introspection and not paying as much attention as he should to what I am doing and the people around me. What is perceived by some as aloofness is really just me looking out the window in 4th grade and wishing I could be out playing in the summer day instead of inside at my desk.
Little did I know then that the techniques we “invented” to cope with our childhood would become the subject of books, movies, poetry and songs—that we would be called the “Boomer Generation” who begat the x’ers and so on and so forth. One person’s coping could be another’s copping out.
I remember my mother lamenting the fact that our family was not like the “Father Knows Best” family—as siblings, my brothers and my sister were not “best” friends by any stretch of the imagination and if the truth be known—I haven’t talked with my one brother in over three years. I don’t even know where he lives although he has been to our house (where we have lived since 1985) several times over the years. People who have grown up in best-friend type families probably can’t relate.
So, when I say I “know” these people, it is really more from an outside perspective than it is from having had lots of fun times together at family picnics, theme parks or on vacation. We each did our own thing and found—as it were—our own ways to cope with our family dynamic. It wasn’t all bad of course—there were many “good” times—and certainly more underground and undefined melodrama than what you would have expected.
We weren’t the huggy-feely types but grew up liking books and having strong work ethics.
Not to shabby you might say—and you would be mostly correct.
But as we now know, life is more than just learning coping techniques that will enable you to get through the day with something left to begin another with. In reality, where we really live is somewhere in between—we aren’t stuck in Alice’s rabbit hole but we don’t feel like we’ve reached the promised land yet either.
We are a transition people—a people of the overlap—we like to think we are in control, but really are far from it. We are caught between feeling to much and not enough—between fitting in and feeling like we have a “kick me” sign on our backs. We are in process and all we want is to feel like we have finally arrived.
This train of thought cound continue for a while but I will end today with a verse from the aforementioned Beatles song:
“What do you see when you turn out the lights,
I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine.”
I get by with a little help from my friends. Enjoy your ride today!