Uphill Both Ways

Life is a Business – Chapter 6

A series of essays on the past, the present, and the future

Quit playing the martyr! You cannot do it alone. You were not born in a log cabin that you built yourself…you did not walk 10 miles to school in the snow (uphill both ways). If you are over 50, stop the BS about the “Good Old Days”, for they weren’t too damn good. Dreaming about a future Utopia or reminiscing about past glory days needs to be limited to the time it takes to finish a couple of cigars and single barrel bourbons with someone within two years of your own age.  The Depression/WWII folks think you are a whiner and the Generations X, Y and Millennial’s know you are full of crap. They see us baby boomers as the most self-centered, greedy, selfish generation of all time who consumed all the resources and left them in debt with little chance to succeed. This is the first generation that does not expect to outperform their parents economically. Whichever group is yours, you need help to become successful…who are your angels?

From the time we were born, someone took care of us and taught us how to function in the world and become a fully realized human being, hopefully. Unless you meet that fully formed baby human, he or she did not make it to the top alone. My list of angels and demons include parents, siblings, neighbors, teachers, preachers, teammates, coworkers, bosses, employees and complete strangers on the road around the world. I never met anyone that I did not learn something from, but usually because I asked questions and listened to what was both said and not said. I hate email, texting, or any of the cheap substitutes for direct human communication that includes facial, physical and tonal clues to meaning. You are only speaking-not talking if there is no instantaneous response and reply. Beware of hitting “send” with no sense of the reaction to come!

I did not list my wife Jan and my two children Beth and Joe in the passage above for a reason-they deserve a special place in my heart, for they suffered more than me in each and every crisis in life. Everyone else can get away from you and your struggles, but not your spouse and children, who hurt when you hurt-only more intensely.  My sister, brother and I witnessed Dad pounding on the dinner table as he raged against his demons on a nightly basis. We could not fix things, but we could try to bring joy or pride into his life by being good children and allowing him to see that his offspring might make it to the “promised land” that he knew he could never enter. His overriding goal was to make John and I strong, courageous, noble warriors who would not only survive, but stand tall in the next Great Depression or World War III. Mother got us books, classical records, taught about art and literature, plus faraway places and beautiful thoughts. She worked all summer school break selling World Book Encyclopedias to earn one set for her boys…I read the entire set A-Z more than once; Mother would wake me up and remove one or two volumes from my chest in bed each morning. We were raised by “The Beauty and The Beast” in every sense of the word. Now, the payoff: Just like Mother, Jan is my rock in life. Without getting into too much detail, let’s just say that she got me out of the pool halls and honky-tonks and led me to become something more than I was going to be on my own. The children looking across the table and up at me totally changed my priorities and lifted my soul while anchoring my character flaws in a safe harbor. As my brother once said: “Sometimes, what you want is not what you need…”

Amen, Brother!

By Bill Hewgley