It seems to me that one’s 20’s are a time for growth, for definition, and for establishment of the self-identity. During these years, we discover what “I” means, or “me,” and we learn to nurture whatever it is we find inside.
Or maybe this whole thing is supposed to happen throughout one’s life, and I’ve just missed the boat by a couple of decades. (The teenage years are meant for strutting around with blinders on, no?)
With learning oneself also comes deciding how one wishes to navigate around the many other selves concurrently carrying on their lives. There are countless resources from which we can glean some sense of direction toward which approach we choose–teachings and examples and adages are heaped, one upon another, into a child’s cellular circuitry from the time of adequate cortical maturation and onward. Teachers, babysitters, books, classmates, next-door neighbors, that guy on the news, Ms. Frizzle, uncles, t-shirt slogans, the Dalai Lama, and your imaginary friend: they all have a say on how to get along (or not) with others.
And in your 20s, you finally have the sense to stop and consider these lessons you’ve been handed, and then come down on whatever you’ve landed on for who you want to be as everyone else’s “else“. And then you get to practice what you land on, day in and day out.
And you know what I’ve found?
I’ve found that, when apathy, impatience, fury, bitterness, or sheer animosity have shoved their way through and taken the reins, if I take just a single step back and hold my tongue for just a split second, there’s one voice I always hear loudest. There’s one voice that always reaches through all the shouting and kicking and screaming inside my head and always tells me, “Be nice, Oli.”
It’s my mother’s.
Here’s to the woman who, even from 3,277.68 miles (or so I’ve been told) away, still somehow manages to make me do what she wants me to do.
That’s Ma for you.
There’s a quote I chuckled at a few days ago which I haven’t been able to get out of my head since: “When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”