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?