Friday, January 28, 2011

Today's fortune: January 28, 2011

Today's fortune: Someone is looking up to you. Don't let that person down.

This fortune is a pep talk, but it's also a call to action, and a reminder of an extremely important responsibility.

When I think about someone looking up to me, I naturally think about the people I look up to. I have some great role models in my life, and I hope I can help someone even a fraction as much as my role models have helped me.

The two most obvious role models are my father and my mother.

My dad worked as an accountant (among other things) for the Metropolitan Community Colleges in Kansas City for over 30 years. He earned a good living and provided well for my mother, my brother and I. He spent all of his free time with us, supported our activities and supported our emotions.

Mom stayed at home with us, but she worked, too, as a typist. I've never known anybody who could type faster. (She saw me typing once and said, "Wow, Matt, you're getting pretty fast." I said, "Thanks, but I'm no Marilyn Kelsey." Confident of her own skills, she replied, "No, you're not.") Mom has been a consistent presence my whole life. She's the family rock.

I love my mom and dad.

I also look up to my brother, Marty. He's quite a bit older than me and has a lot more grey hair. Marty is a teacher, and a damn good one. I've never known anybody as organized or dedicated as him, and I've never known anybody with such an impressive warehouse of bad jokes (even though I often steal them and try to pass them off as my own). I'll share a story here that I told at Marty's wedding. When we were kids, Marty, his friend Lee and I were playing in the backyard when a strange dog appeared. It started running toward us and we ran away. Marty and Lee, being four years older, were a lot faster than me. The dog caught me and I got bit.

The moral of the story is, when you're running away from a dog, you don't have to be the fastest in the herd. You just have to be faster than the chubby kid.

That was the last time, though, that Marty ever left me behind.

I also look up to my wife. To say the least, Jamie did not have an ideal childhood. The fact that she made it through into a normal and reasonably well-adjusted adult is nothing short of miraculous. I'm so proud of her... I can't write about it too much, because I'll flood the keyboard with tears.

As a journalist, I was fortunate to have several professional role models, most prominently my college professor John Lofflin, who continues to be a source of inspiration and encouragement, and who serves as my writing partner at The Henry Wiggen Blog, as well as a bunch of editors, reporters and photographers I met along the way.

But this fortune specifically mentions that I'm the role model in this case. Someone is looking up to me.

I just wish I knew who that was.

I've been a supervisor on multiple occasions in the past, and I was in a position to serve as a role model of sorts. I'm not the one to judge whether or not I was successful. At my current job, I try to be a leader among my peers.

I'm also a Big Brother. I think I'm a role model for my Little, but mostly we just do fun stuff together. Again, it's difficult for me to judge how successful I am.

It's nice to think that someone looks up to you. The thought helps to keep me centered. If nothing else, this fortune made me think about my own role models, and mention them here.

Who are some of your role models? I'd love to read about them in the comments section of this post.


  1. I'm going to be 63 this year, Matt. I learned to fly just 6 years ago, and just months after getting my license had the remarkable opportunity to meet and fly with two remarkable aerobatic pilots. Wayne Handley, and Ken Erickson. Ken, who most recently has been chief pilot and chvief mechanic for Sean D. Tucker's aerobatic school in King City, California, introduced me to the Pitts aircraft and started me down the road of unusual attitude flying. His calm and positive attitude in a plane is truly inspiring, and the same can be said for Wayne Handley who is almost the father of modern aerobatics ... at least in my mind anyway. Both inspired me to strive for excellence, and precision. And both kindled and nourished the idea that if you could imagine something, you could achieve it.
    I may never achieve their prominence, but I am an avid competition aerobatic pilot, and hope that I may inspire someone else to pursue a dream and not accept age as a deterrent.

  2. Before thinking of whom might be looking up to me, my father came to mind, and how much like him I have turned out to be. I don't remember ever thinking "I wanted to be like my father," but it happened, for better and for worse. The older I grow the more of him I see in me, and the more proud I am for having unconsciously emulated him.

    A couple of years ago I wrote this for my father on his birthday:

    As I looked at myself in the mirror this morning,

    Goatee sprinkled with gray,

    I saw you looking back at me.

    I found myself thinking of how much of me comes from you.

    My way with people, ability to persuade, to build consensus, comes from you.

    The gift of language, of vocabulary, and a love for reading are gifts from you.

    The way I pause and think of just the right words…

    The way I withdraw when I’m depressed…

    The ability to stay calm when those around are agitated…

    The deep abiding love for my children…

    And for my father…

    And the difficulty I have expressing that love,

    All come from you.

    I am my father’s son.

    And I am proud.

    Now I see my 23 year-old son adopting my strengths and foibles, and I wonder will he pass them on? I hope that he has looked up to me as I have my father.

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