I’ve spent the whole day reflecting on how I have now reached the final benchmark of societal legality. I have graduated from drivers permit to drivers license. After that I was given the authority to smoke at 18 only to have that authority revoked and pushed to 21. Now at 21, I can smoke, drink, drive, and carry a gun in the state of Texas. Yes, those are all mutually exclusive. I have come to realize that now my next benchmark is retirement, in the eyes of the government at least. It seems daunting but I would like some time to tell you why its not.
My parents accomplished one hell of a feat raising me. Anybody that knew me or my family when I was a child can attest to this; I was a menace. I wanted to see how many backyards I could run through before I got caught. There was this creepy old lady who had the ambulance called once a month who would sit in her backyard and smoke for hours. Well, when she would go inside she would leave her smokes on the table and I would go hide them from her. I’ll say it again, I was a menace. I tell those stories to illustrate the great lengths my parents had to go through to form me into the man I am today. They are the reason why nothing is daunting to me, not even the fact that for the next 44 years of my life I will wake up, go to work, come home and fall asleep just to do it again. I wish to share some of the lessons that I have learned as a tribute to their success in hopes in lands on the eyes of someone who needs to hear exactly what I did.
1) Always keep your eyes up
Even though this statement seems figurative it is quite literal. Keep your eyes up. I would steal the front seat from my older sister not to control the radio but to spite her. Additionally, I wanted to see why my mother made the decisions she made on the road. Coming home from school there was an infamous stoplight where we would be stuck at for 6 minutes. My mother began taking shortcuts only to be stuck at a different light. As I caught on to what she was doing I asked her why she turned away from the light when the light was red (I had assumed that the backup of cars meant it was soon to be out turn to go). She would tell me, “ One street over they have an arrow, flowing traffic in our direction and keeping oncoming traffic from going straight. Meaning that we have 3 rotations of lights before we get to go.” Sure enough we turned, stopped for one rotation of red lights and proceeded on. To illustrate the point of keeping your eyes up, I began to start playing tricks. I would look up at a street light when stopped and tell my siblings when we would get a green light. I learned that in a 35 mph zone, from adjacent yellow to our green, there was approximately 4 seconds before the light switched. I would begin to count down and sure enough our light would go green. Keep your eyes up because information is important.
2) Respect the things that merit respect
I began taking gun safety classes when I was 9 years old. Even before then, I have a fond memory of my father waking me up early one morning. I remember it was early November and there was fog illuminated under the street lamps. As we loaded everything into my pops Pathfinder, he took the time to show me the guns. Respect. The first lesson I was taught is that you always treat a gun as if it is loaded. The second lesson, never pull the trigger until you are certain you want ti destroy what is on the other side of the barrel. My mother also had a firm duty in my development of respect. To this day, I ask permission to touch a gun that is not my own. I have earned their trust and respect. They know that I understand how to follow protocol and yet, I reaffirm their understanding of my duties in action. It must be done that way. Respect must be exemplified in action. What else merits respect? Ie: true authority, elderly, motor vehicles, alcohol, and daily responsibilities. I must add one more example born with inherent respect: women. Every woman, both young and old, is inherently worthy of respect. Any abuse to that respect must be handled immediately.
3) Know where you are and where you need to be at all times. Know how to get there
I used to make fun of my friends for needing to find an address, put it into their gps, follow computer generated directions, and still end up missing a turn. My parents drilled it into me. I didn’t need a phone, I needed to be attentive. In the event that there was traffic, what’s an alternative route. It digs deeper than that. How many entrance points are there to any given building I enter. In the event of a fire, how do I get out with those I am responsible for? I am their eldest son with four siblings under me, three of them fine young women. I need to know where we are , where we need to be, and how to get there at all times. This is not a constant state of paranoia, rather, I walk around with infused confidence. I know that in the event of any conflict, I am prepared to take initiative. If I am out with my friends, family, or strangers, I know that I can help others before myself and still make it out. My parents enhanced my confidence through trial. They allowed me to live all of this out under a protective eye and let me make my own mistakes at the same time. I hope that after all of this you may see them as I see them. They may still see me as a menace but I hope that they can see the man they raised isn’t all that bad