Be Yourself

            A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a Pittsburgh interviewer, and this time I’ll spell his name right, Paul guggenheimer.  Today he was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Two things struck me in the biographical sketch.  First, of his unpleasant interview with Andre Previn, he said, “I just thought the maestro was having a bad day.”   That says a lot about Mr. Guggenheimer.  He is enough at peace with himself not to go to self-doubt.  And his comment is also very forgiving of Previn.  He didn’t write Previn off as a general bad guy.

            Second, in his response to the question, “What was the best advice you ever received,” he answered, “Just be yourself.”

            Not new advice, but worth remembering.

            Authenticity is a virtue I’ve come to deeply respect. When I became blind, I really couldn’t fake that I was in control all the time, that I never lost my temper, that I never swore.

            Parenthood also reminds us to express ourselves genuinely.  Kids find our vulnerabilities and flaws.  Attempting to be in charge of Joel and Leslie when they were preschoolers, I put bells on their shoes.  They quickly learned to remove the shoes when they didn’t want me to find them, the little twits!

            One night this week our PBS TV station ran a program bythe motivational speaker, Wayne Dyer.  I confess that I find him pretty mushy in his thinking and not very motivational, although I know a couple who spent some good money for one of his workshops.

            He talked about how extraordinary everyone of us is.  We must not think of ourselves as ordinary, it seems, or risk the progress of our psychological and spiritual growth. 

            I guess I prefer the humble folks I know, offering a meal when difficulties arise, sending a note, making a phone call, giving kindness in what small ways they can.  I believe in the “being yourself” that Guggenheimer refers to, the authenticity that doesn’t puff ourselves up and pretend that we’re better than we are.

            I find one small disclaimer in this “being yourself” rule of thumb.”  At the end of the day, dealaing with deafness and blindness, I’m drained of psychic energy—every day.  Result: being my cranky self.  Even without weariness, I have less virtuous sides that can surface.  At those times, it’s best if I’m not “being myself completely.”

            So I guess the goal of “doing unto others what you would have them do unto you” trumps “being yourself.”

            And that’s no small task.  It’s easier to do unto others what they do unto me.

            Am I getting boring?  Preachy?

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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2 Responses to Be Yourself

  1. Cheryl Tupper says:

    Hi Sally, I haven’t read your blog in quite a while so I was delighted to find so many rich and insightful postings. You never cease to amaze and inspire. Reading your eloquent prose makes me miss our long conversations.

    I hope that everyone is well and you get to visit your beautiful grandaughter regularly. How old is she now?

    I saw my nephew Chris at Christmas and he asked about you. I have never seen him take such interest in anything that didn’t have an engine or trigger attached. You left a deep impression on him. He hasn’t forgotten that you whipped him in Scrabble.

    I’ll let you know if I get to Pittsburgh. In the meantime, I’d still like to find a way to get you to Jacksonville I just haven’t been able to make the right connection.

    Much love,
    Cheryl

    • Cheryl san,

      So great to hear from you. How the heck are you? How are John and Michael? Please give them my love. Tell Chris hi. He’s, what in about 9th grade now? Just kidding. Is he in the military?

      Come visit any time.

      Raya is 7 months today and a real chubster. Leslie refers to her Michelan (sp) tire legs. They come next week, so can’t wait.

      Joel is in Boston and not liking it very much. The blue collar people are antagonistic and the white collar, snobby.

      Love you,
      Sally

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