Sunday, September 25, 2011

Teaching The Value of the True

It is autumn in Northern California. I heard, then saw, a flock of geese honking over the house this morning, traveling in their V-shaped formation to a destination further south. It made me think back to previous autumns, and lessons my father taught me, so many years ago.

Kim at left and Robin and autumn leaves from the apricot trees in our first Los Altos house. 

Among the finest things my father gave to me were the lessons he taught by example. He kept his word. He was on time. He did not do a job by half. He paid his bills. He was never intentionally cruel to anyone--though he sometimes was so without intent, through an excess of frankness. (I watched him all his life trying not to do this last thing.)

He operated openly with his fellow man and kept no hidden agenda. Most of all he sought the truth in everything.

What do I mean by that last statement? All I can say is that it was at the core of his being and it was the most important thing about him.

He did not want to hear what someone thought was true. He did not want to have to work with second-hand information. He did not want you to guess. He wanted to know: as nearly as it was possible to know anything on this planet. His moral compass and his intellectual compass each sought a true direction.

He needed that in his work, of course. He was an engineer and you can't build anything without correct information.

But it is what he sought in people, too. He sought people with depth, and knowledge, and honor. True things. This was what he gave to you and that is what he wanted to get back.

From this and from him I grew up learning to have very good intuition about people. 

It served me very well as a reporter. 

In my personal dealings with people I have not been quite so able to listen to this inner voice. My failure to do so has often hurt--and puzzled me. 

Can you see me smack my forehead here?

Thus, as summer's sweetness changes to the cool of fall, I make a note to self: don't second-guess your intuition. It is good and there for a reason.  

My father would smile to see me take such a wise step. "Nice change," he would say.  And then add (laughing at himself): "Sorry. Didn't mean it like it sounded."

Dad and me. The sun was in my eyes and I was six and tired of posing. Sometimes I'm tired now.

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