I remember getting a test back, I got an 89%, only one of my friends who got this score, compliments all around, I’m feeling good about myself, I go home with my head held high.
My Father comes home, he asks about my test, I smile as I show him my 89%, he looks at the paper, then me, then the paper again, and he says, “Ahhh?! Why couldn’t you get 90%” “Oh, well the test was pretty hard.” I reply. “¡Taras! Why didn’t you get 90?” followed up with a hit on the back of my head. “Ow! It was hard!” I say. “Ahhh…” he utters as he goes about his lunch.
“A dose of adversity is often as needful as a dose of medicine.” This particular phrase is the embodiment of the above memory as well as all others similar to it… usually the ones when my Father would hit me on the back of my head, followed by the classic, “¡Taras!”
It was all in a lovingly matter, mind you. I’m not sure whether or not he would thought as far as having such conversations would cause me to be humbled or to inspired to be a better person… in either case, it worked. Whenever I’m met with compliments, I take it with as much modesty or humility as possible. It has been integrated into my mind, to not let any personal victory get to my head, to not be prideful nor arrogant.
It was interesting having someone in my life who would constantly, although playfully, call me an idiot when a majority of people call me a genius, is a wonderful balance to my mentality. When someone is constantly praised, without being knocked down in any sense of the word, will cause someone to be arrogant, over-confident, vain.
Every story about a valiant Knight, or a Grand Martial Arts Master has parts in them, when they’ve met their match, when they’ve failed to meet a goal, when they’ve lost. They learn a valuable lesson. Failure, Defeat, Humility in its rawest form. Painful, however, it is what stays with us the most, that’s why the most vivid memories are the most embarrassing.
It’s essentially balance. In my case, being constantly praised for being a genius, will have nothing but negative effects on both my personality and mind. Granted, I’m no genius, I’ve done my fair share of stupid mistakes, simply because I wasn’t smart enough, and you see, I’m able to not only recognize it, but accept it as a part of who I am, as a part of my own past and as a part of what’s going to happen in the future, as much as I wouldn’t want it to be, I’m going to eventually trip over myself, choke on air or water, and laugh at vulgar and oftentimes inappropriate jokes.
In Mexican bonds, we tend to address each other lovingly with a name that’s the opposite of ones highest trait or quality. Using myself as the example, my brothers would mainly call me an idiot or something that resembled stupid, however my Father always stuck with Taras which was something like “dumbass” because my greatest quality was that I was constantly in school and studying and getting a higher education than my brothers. I believe it’s something along the same lines as a Boy named Sue, you bring someone down, to help them realize that they have to fight to get higher and higher in life.
Life has always been about balance, one can see this in every and nearly any aspect of anything! Chess, Call of Duty, all forms of war: Offense and Defense; Yoga, Martial arts: Balance of mind and body and spirit; even science has balance, Physics: Every action has an equal and opposing reaction, Biology: Homeostasis, Chemistry: all chemical reactions react until they reach stabilization; even Mythology and Religion: the world is created, Life happens, then it is destroyed, Yin and Yang.
Balance is what keeps us from being too far to one extreme, from feeling out of place, out of order, and allowing us to become good people, because everyone needs a middle ground of both, strength and gentleness, of tradition and free-thinking, of confidence and and humility otherwise, people would be of one extreme and too much of one side without the other to balance it out leads to disaster, too much confidence results in arrogance, vanity or just plain stupidity, too much humility leads to cowardice, fear of the world, and Living Wallpaper status.
I think by him calling me an idiot all these years, it made me respect and love him more, it opened my eyes to the experiences others are facing in their lives, especially my own Father, who was working so hard.
Perspective is never a bad thing to have. To see the world from high up and from down below, from Gray to every color in the world, from the eyes of a child to the eyes of the elderly, perspective helps us find balance in the most interesting of ways.