09 August 2006


9 August 2006

I reflect on my life quite often.  I think about the pivotal moments that lead me to make one choice over another and I try to follow the threads back in time to see where my path originated.  I think I inherited this tendency from my grandmother, she used to tell my mother how much better a life my mother would have had if grandmother’s first husband had not died.  Mom’s answer to this was to point out that she wouldn’t have been born, so she wouldn’t have had much of life at all.

I recently tried to write out a list of people who, by accident or design helped me make the choices that lead me to where I am now.   I was surprised when I looked it over, that it didn’t include some of the obvious people (immediate family, best friends, etc...) but rather was a list of people who, for the most part, are off having their own lives.  People who I knew in high school or college and have since lost touch with.

Part of the reason I am able to categorize the impact they had on my life, is because they are no longer in it.  When I try to think of things I have learned from current friends and family, I have a hard time coming up with anything specific.  But when I think back to people who were important to me ten or twenty years ago, it is much easier to point out moments when they showed me something about myself or something about the outside world that reshaped my perceptions and, in some cases, caused me to make choices that very clearly led to where I am today.

During that time, the word ‘enabler’ came to mean someone who was encouraging negative behaviour in someone else.  One, enabled a drunkard, or a drug user, or some such trouble.  I’d like to reclaim the word ‘enabler’ and salute the long list of people who enabled me to be the person that I am, living the life that I have.  I learned lessons from them (sometimes painful lessons) that I took into the world with me and that have allowed me to live a wonderful life so far.

Each of us enables other people by modelling behaviour, asking questions, or providing a listening ear but we rarely get to see the impact of our contributions to someone else’s life.  Our relationship to them changes over time or they drift away.  Life is a work in progress and none of us get to see the final product.

All this does make me wonder if any of the people in my life at present will look back in ten or twenty years and see that I had an impact on their life.  If so, I can only hope that it will have been a good one.

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