The Power of No- Part One

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.“- Thomas Edison

When I was 17 I accidentally shaved off most of my right sideburn. I can’t remember how long it was, but it wasn’t anything that could considered a mutton chop. It was a normal size that was appropriate for my head/face. At least it was until I took out my trimmer and screwed it up.  In the interest of uniformity and a desire not to look silly I promptly adjusted the other one so that I would have a matching set. I then set off for school and forgot about it.

Or should I say had forgotten about it until 6th period at which point in time my friend Jeff asked me what I had done and why. I told him that I had done it in honor of the Challenger and the astronauts that had lost their lives. Don’t ask me why I said that because I can’t remember if I was serious or screwing around. It was a foolish thing to say because it was personal grooming malfunction and not intentional. Not to mention that there is no correlation between facial hair and a spaceship. But I have always had a very active imagination and an insouciant attitude so I can’t say that I am surprised that I said that.

Truth is that I am capable of saying almost anything at any time. Blame it on my having removed all of the filters that we use to monitor ourselves in public. That is not to say that I can’t keep my mouth shut because that is not real hard for me to do either. I am very comfortable with silence.

But it is also fair to say that I have my own way of doing things. There is the hard way, the right way and my way. Sometimes my way has been the source of much mischief and stress. I have been my own worst enemy and my own superhero. I mention this because I have been thinking a lot about what my life is like now and what I want it to be like. I have been playing and replaying scenes in my head and trying to work out where I would make changes. I can’t reset the clock or start over in the way that I would prefer and that is ok.

My children are a different story. I smile whenever I think of them. I spend time trying to figure out what I can do to help them in their journey. I sometimes wonder if they would benefit from my trying to guide them towards certain professions. That is because I look at my history and think that there are some pitfalls and hurdles that could be overcome if they had the awareness that I do. Yet, I don’t really want to push them one way or another because I think that there is merit in finding your own way. My grandfather used to say that “you can’t screw a young head on old shoulders.” I didn’t like it much when I was a kid but that was because I didn’t understand it.

Now I see things differently and it is because of life experience that I will probably not push them to be doctors or scientists. I want them to find their passion and follow that. I want them to suck the marrow out of life and the best way I know how to do that is to engage and interact with people and things you love. That is not to say or suggest that I won’t tell them if I think they are making a mistake because when warranted I will do so. Yet, the life that they are living is their own and not mine. My role while they are young is to be more involved to help them gain the skills and experiences they need to be productive people. But time will take some of that from me soon enough.

And I can’t help but wonder what sort of response they will have to the power of no. More on this to come in a subsequent post.

(Visited 87 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley February 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I sometimes think about this too even though my girls are young. When the time comes, will I guide them, gently push them toward certain careers or passions or will I stand back and watch. What is the “right” thing to do? I haven’t the faintest.

    • Jack February 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm

      I am torn by this and have no good answers. It really is subjective and something that isn’t easily answered. Like much of parenting it is something that we sort of figure out as we go along.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like