Washington, District of Columbia. Tent life of the 31st Penn. Inf. (later, 82d Penn. Inf.) at Queen's farm, vicinity of Fort Slocum. American Civil War

Distorted and misunderstood.

Can’t tell you how many times I have looked a picture like the one above and wondered what life was like back then. Can’t tell you how many times I have had a misunderstanding or disagreement with someone else and felt like my words were distorted and misunderstood.

Can’t tell you how many times I have felt like I was on the outside looking in and wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. Stood there and wondered if my not caring what most people think came because it is natural or if it is tied into frustration with feeling like my words have been distorted and misunderstood.

Where was the use, originally, in rushing this whole globe through in six days? It is likely that if more time had been taken in the first place, the world would have been made right, and this ceaseless improving and repairing would not be necessary now. But if you hurry a world or a house, you are nearly sure to find out by and by that you have left out a towhead, or a broom-closet, or some other little convenience, here and there, which has got to be supplied, no matter how much expense or vexation it may cost.
– Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain

A short while ago I watched parts and pieces of the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I watched Randy Newman sing, saw Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and John Fogarty join him in singing I Love LA and smiled at the jam session at the end of the show.

The Wilson sisters from Heart, surviving members of Run DMC, Rush, Tom Morello and a bunch of others were all singing  Crossroads. There was joy on the stage and joy in my ears because I love music and I loved the joining together of artists to create something special.

It is only within recent years that I have begun to think of myself as an artist and as of someone who needs to create. It is only because of life experiences I have had that have pushed me to reach deeper and try to climb higher that I have begun to look at life so differently than before.

And it is because of all this that I look at being a father somewhat differently than before as well. I look at this mishmash of thoughts and ideas and wonder whether I understand them well enough to express them or if not wanting my words to be distorted and misunderstood prevents me from sharing them because I just don’t feel like dealing with some of the crap that comes with it.


Last night friends and family told me stories about incidents of bullying at their schools and I heard about some kids who were on both ends. I listened and thought about how one child got stuck because his parents set him up. It is not fair to the kid and even though the parents created some of this it is still not fair.

I think about it because my oldest is in middle school and has always been described as the kid everyone likes. But middle school is a crazy time and I wonder if he is going to become a target. It happened to me. It didn’t last very long but I wasn’t afraid to use my fists. I didn’t particularly like it but sometimes hitting the bully in the head with an apple can change their attitude.

But that is not what I want or am pushing for.

It is possible to get through unscathed and I hope my kids make it but I won’t be surprised if their words are distorted and misunderstood. Won’t be surprised if they come home and tell me stories about it. Won’t be surprised if one day we have a serious talk.

Thus far it hasn’t happened and to some extent I think it is because my son just doesn’t care about a lot of the nonsense. He feels no need to be like anyone else or to have the cool stuff because it makes you look cool. When he wants something it is because he wants it.

Peace of mind is a most valuable thing. The Bible has robbed the majority of the world of it during many centuries; it is but fair that in return it should give some to an individual here & there. But you must not make the mistake of supposing that absolute peace of mind is obtainable only through some form religious belief: no, on the contrary I have found that as perfect a peace is to be found in absolute unbelief.
Letter to Charles W. Stoddard, 6/1/1885Mark Twain

Distorted and misunderstood.

I don’t know when I became this man. He is harder and at times more abrasive than I would have ever imagined he would become. Most of the time I like him, he loves life and tries to live each moment.

He doesn’t spend much time if any worrying about his words being distorted and misunderstood, but maybe that is because he is lucky enough to have a few people in his life who take the time to try to understand and that is enough.

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  1. Mike Carlson May 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I always remind my kid not to be a bully. I know he is not that kind but I am still scared that he will eventually be with friends who are bully.

  2. Tim Bonner May 20, 2013 at 7:39 am

    My five-year-old son is already showing signs of being a leader and all of his peers look up to him.

    I just hope he’ll never become the target or be the one targetting!

  3. Betsy Cross May 20, 2013 at 3:07 am

    HA! Wanna know what I see in that picture (above)? I see people in the middle of a perfectly ordinary day. A photogragher makes them stop what they’re doing to semi-pose, and they are perturbed!

    On bullying… I was bullied a couple of times in 7th grade. A group of very aggressive girls decided that my eye-contact with their fearless leader warranted me “going down.” I’ve never been so scared in my life. I walked right through them – how, I’ll never know- and learned not to look people in the eyes unless you wanted to start something!

    My son Connor begs me to give him permission to hit back. I never gave it til this year. But then he asked if the permission went for teachers, too? Oh, my! The world is getting crazy, and schools are worlds like none other!

    I saw this on Google+ this morning. (Hope it’s a good link!)

    THAT’S how I feel about being understood. IMPOSSIBLE! LOL!

  4. Geoff Livingston May 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    You should read the Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. It speaks to this recently discovered artist meme.

    I was horrifically bullied as a child, and it ended only when I hit back. It’s unfortunate, but I believe the only way bullies stop is when they receive pushback either by their intended victims, or by their peers. My daughter will learn self defense at an early age for this reason.

    Jack, I use distance now to protect myself. I care less whether my words or actions are read the wrong way because I am less vested in what others think of me. This is human nature. A normal protection mechanism. At the same time, I try to be careful. I don’t want to intnetionally harm people behind this veneer. Just make it a safe boundary.

    • Jack May 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Geoff,

      That sounds like an interesting book.I’ll have to look it up.

      I think you are right about bullies. It is part of why I got my kids into Krav Maga. Better to protect yourself than to be pushed around.

  5. Julie Barrett May 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Remember what Emerson wrote? To be great is to be misunderstood.

    On the other hand I always like what Clarence Darrow said about it. “I have suffered from being misunderstood but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood.”

  6. Joe May 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for that Twain quote.

  7. Stan Faryna May 19, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Sometimes, I suppose the challenge for us is to keep on trying to work through the misunderstanding that we create. But I wonder if I am so obtuse, the work never gets easier.

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