As a kid, I loathed my parents’ life lessons. I called them lectures. The dinner table and the car was the place my parents used to lecture. I would put two forks full of potatoes in my mouth or eat a burger in four bites to finish quickly so I did not have to endure their lecture. I would pretend to have a headache when I suspected I’d be forced to go with my parents on an errand because I knew I would be trapped in the car and they’d be on their soapbox lecturing me, forcing me to listen against my will. As a child my mother would call us into the kitchen to take our daily dose of cod liver oil or a spoon full of canned beets. Although I love beet burgers, fresh beets are bad enough, but canned beets are the food of the demons. After consuming either the oil or the beets, I felt ill. The taste and texture triggered a vomit reflex. She forced us to eat them because she said they were good for us. My parents’ life lessons were like cod liver oil or canned beets; I fucking hated them.
As I age, the lessons my parents’ burrowed into me in my youth light my path today. These lessons arrive at the doorstep of my mind regularly when I need them most. While brushing my teeth, sitting in the passenger seat during a drive, or while eating dinner around the table with my three siblings, my parents planted life lessons into my soul. The age old lessons serve as a guide for my life journey today. A lesson which speaks to me today is work until it’s done right. When one labors to complete a project s/he must persist until it is done right, not perfectly, but right.
I imagine myself at the dinner table and my mom in a stern, no-fucking around tone saying, “Once you start something work until it’s right. Boy, sit up in that chair, eat that food, and listen up. Don’t you dare stop working on something until it’s done right. It ain’t gotta be perfect but it gotta be done right. You hear me, boy?” Wow, I felt like I was just at the dinner table as a kid right now. That life lesson and many other lessons have walked with me through days of confusion. They have told me, “Go this way. Go that way.” They’ve given me refreshment in days of drought. Occasionally, I feel like I am in a dark room without knowledge of its dimensions or its contents, but an earring backing has fallen to the floor and I’ve been recruited to search for it. On my hands and knees I grope without a clue of how big the room is, what’s in the room, and where the hell that backing went. I have wanted to stop and leave something done half ass, like my coaches would say, however, the rays of my parents’ messages travel through time and light my way.
When I was a child the lessons caused me to stumble. But now, I see my parent’s life lessons directing my footsteps. Now I feed my children those life lessons to which they respond by rolling their eyes, smacking their lips, and sometimes application. I know life lessons my parents taught, like work until you do it right, will light their path just like it’s lit mine. And hopefully it will light your path, too. Work until it’s right.