general musings

Self-creation or running from yourself?

Posted on March 30, 2010. Filed under: general musings |

At some point in the time since I’ve known my husband, my father told my husband that I am a self-creation. He explained to my bewildered husband that I read things that interested me in books and adopted what I liked into my own life. I don’t think the statement bothered my husband or that my father meant it to be hurtful.

I do think it might have been meant as a warning, somehow, that I might be too malleable or that I might make integral personality or life changes on a whim. But, what my father might have failed to realize, is that if your parents don’t give you all of the tools you need to grow into a fully realized adult, you might have to take on some of your own. And really, is it so very wrong to read Dominick Dunne and decide that you might prefer engraved stationery over thermographed, or thermographed over a tablet and a box of envelopes from the corner drugstore?

(I’m still counting the days until I can add a letterpress printing press to my storage room at my new house. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on the new mortgage to go with the new house for a while.)

The other message my father meant to give my husband, however unconsciously, is that he wasn’t quite sure how the child he raised grew into the woman he didn’t always recognize. Again, though, is that so bad a thing? We must take our life lessons from somewhere and, protest though he may at times, guess whose number my father dials when he has an obscure etiquette question? When I was about 12, my father came home from a warehouse club, where they display books on big tables, plunked a fat paperback volume of Miss Manners on my bed and told me to read it from cover to cover. My father may not have expected me to end up the way I am now (set in my ways, always certain I am right, full of opinions about everything), but he planted at least one of the seeds.

The problem with being a self-creation is when you run from yourself. Do you do that? I think I have stopped. I am pretty damned proud of this self, the parent to two, wife to one, domestic overlord to linens in the zillions and pets who come to my house to die. I wonder about people who continuously feel the need to reinvent. What iteration of self, of personality, of life, does it take to finally be happy with yourself?

I am not, unfortunately, the Empress of the Free World, but I sure like that title. It’s possible that I may never write a single word that truly tells you how to live. Perhaps I should have named my blog “How I Live and Why You Should, Too.” Live well. Leave a fine legacy.

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