Every morning when I wake up- even in mornings where I just had a dream about being tortured by a group of Sons Of Anarchy rejects- a song plays in my head. Usually purely at random, and for no particular reason. Today it was Rose Royce's Car Wash, which got me thinking how I became who I am.
Confused? Wait, it gets better.
See, my mind works on the basis of turning stories into legends, and sometimes it has to fudge how I perceive stuff to get there. A common way my warped mind accomplishes this is changing just slightly words to songs that I don't necessarily understand into something that will link to a particular memory.
Hence, we have
You might not ever get rich
But let me tell you it's better than digging a ditch
There ain't no telling who you might meet
A movie star or maybe even an Indian chief
..or maybe even, a Najib
Ms. Najib was our assistant principle, and thus it was that Car Wash links to High School. And from there, I began to muse about the teachers we had. Some of them were really good; some were cartoonish (such as Miss Haynes, who constantly smelled of the pot she smoked at lunch and corrected her mis-speaks by giving raspberries, showering the front row and prompting one wag to ask if she gave out towels with her lectures). But then I mused the question of which one was most inspirational.
And for me, none of them were- and that was my fault. For even a good teacher to be inspirational, the pupil has to have the mindset of being inspired. For that to be lasting, it has to touch the student at their future dreams or goals. And I didn't have any.
Not that I didn't have a vague idea I needed one. My Mom passed in the summer between grade school and high school. And I told myself shortly after the funeral, I had to find what was going to make me make it in this world. But I drew a blank... and soon entering high school, which for me was going from a medium-sized fish in a very small pond to a very tiny fish in a lake, was overwhelming enough that my focus narrowed out of the future and into what I needed to get through to the next day. The only future goal I had was finding a girlfriend who would be willing to fill in the gaping hole where most people might have self-esteem. Thus it was that I went through high school without a career plan, a state I still had when Dad insisted I go to college. After 2 years of doing little more than what I did in high school with ever-decreasing results, I HAD to pick a major. Not having any idea of what to pick, figuring that my talents academically (reading and history) really didn't have a paycheck at the end, I chose Business, Marketing/management, figuring it would be fun to be a Darrin Stevens, even sans the witch.
Well, it was more management (which I had/have zero talent for) than marketing; my utter inability to speak in public (at least, with any recall of said speech), would have derailed the attempt anyway; and the tendency of business profs to explain the profession as the ability to spend other people's money to talk them into buying stuff they don't need and you don't believe in, and you get a degree in absolutely nothing. That's how I got where I am. But why did it get there?
So I dug past high school and the opportunities I completely ignored there, and went farther back. I've often told the story of being 4 and up on the roof with Dad fixing shingles, when Mom saw me up there (because I was looking over the peak waving and yelling, "Hi, Mom!") and yelled, "Woody Martin, get that child OFF of that roof!!!" I suspect that was the start of my fear of heights... but I think it was also another turning point. I was the baby by TEN YEARS (Dad was 47, Mom 40 when I was born), and Mom tended to protect me. I think this may have been the point where Dad said, "I'm 51, and too old to be fighting this battle", and let Mom win. God knows, he never really took me aside to teach me stuff after that, and knowing no better, I continued to play within the bubble Mom put me in. Eventually it worked it's way into Dad's drinking; he built his self esteem by attacking Mom's, and then mine. Bring up things that hadn't been a factor for years and dig until you screamed at his drunken ass to shut up. Like "Mom made you afraid of running the garden tractor", when I'd been mowing our grass for three years and Aunt Cleo's for two.
But I'm not here to psychoanalyze Dad, but me. When Dad gave up the fight, I lost the one person who could have drawn me out of Mom's "bubble" and taught me practical stuff. I was lost to their demons.
My son KC found within himself the means to overcome that; I never did, not soon enough, anyway. This is one case where the dad writes the paper "The Person I Admire Most" about his son.
So, was there ANY inspiration back then? Sure. One man- our principle, Ivan Mulligan. He time and again demonstrated a lesson the supervisors at my old job never fathomed- that strength and leadership isn't proven by how loud you scream, but by your patience and composure when it would be so easy to lose it. He could take what surely would have been a profanity-laced ten minute shoutfest for anyone else and compact it into a shake of the head. That is leadership. That earns respect. And that is inspirational.
One last note...A-Z Lyrics has "Be in our band, and you don't have to pay." Even I know it's "fill up and you don't have to pay."