Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Perceptions -- jcarolek

I was thinking about my brother Tim today. Well, actually, I started out thinking about my brother Dan. At Thanksgiving dinner, as we sat around the table, fully sated and just preferring to rest for a while at the table rather than get up and have to move, we fell into discussion of "when we were kids." Dan asked if I remember how I, as a little child, would sit, back arched away from the table, arm extended "as if" to reach out to get the object, and start whining, crying that I could not reach whatever it was I wanted. As he said, I all I had to do was LEAN IN toward the object and I could have reached it. But I preferred to whine and get assistance.... Yes, I DO recall... what a WHINER!

Anyway, today I was thinking of that and thinking about how I perceived things as a youngster. Truly, all things DID seem to be just out of my reach. And then I thought about Tim and how he would take advantage of my KNOWN character flaw, snatching from my hand the piece of junk mail Mom had given me. Off he'd run with it, and I would follow in close pursuit.... close...but NEVER quite close enough to REACH him and recover my property. And as Tim would slow down, so would I. As he sped up, so would I. Of course, I was whining and crying the whole time, making Tim enjoy the game more and making Mom wonder WHY she had even THOUGHT having more that one kid was a good thing.

I don't really understand why I did those things. My perception of my own abilities was certainly not as others would later assess them to be. I do always remember feeling as if I was not as smart as people liked to believe... and that I had to be very careful not to lead them to think I could play the violin as well as they seemed to believe I could... basically, I guess I was a classic underachiever.

Tim is one year my junior and the first boy, of four boys. He was always telling REALLY tall tales. I mean, Tim had the art of exaggeration down pat. No matter how many of us assured him that the puddle in the back yard was NOT as deep as Foxhill Pond, as he contended, no matter how many of us assured him the "tiny baby" he saw on the plane was NOT only six inches long, as he contended, well... it did not matter. If Tim declared it was so, then he stuck to his statement and no evidence of reason would shake him from his assertions. Tim was always, in my mind, more of a dreamer... a "big ideas" guy. I was more of a do-enough-to-get-by and hope nobody noticed when I failed type.

I guess his perception of his world has always been different from my perception of my world. Of course, we have grown up and taken on the challenges, dreamed the dreams and lived through the failures. We have grown to be functional people despite our dubious beginnings. But I wonder sometimes whether I don't still perceive my world a little bit like I did as a youngster... just a little bit out of my reach, and frustratingly so... lacking the confidence to lean forward.... preferring to whine about things when they don't fall in line with my preferences.... and I think Tim still is a dreamer... he always has big things he is working on... big ideas.

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