The Sum of Our Parts

The Sum of Our Parts


You might think you know yourself pretty well, but do you? Have you ever said or done something that was completely out of character or a surprise to you as much as to anyone else? Do you ever ask yourself, “Now, where did that come from?”

Being responsible and shouldering deserved blame is praiseworthy–we should. But, I’ve thought of an excuse for those actions or words that make us blush and cringe. It’s not a very solid excuse and it sounds pretty shaky, but it is an excuse. We could blame a long-ago, imaginary ancestor, made up on the spot out of sheer necessity. Sure!

Case in point, a young man I knew once, long ago had a highly developed sense of humor and probably was a writer of fiction at heart. Anyway, he was entertaining.  One day, he was to give a speech in his college class. He collected a jar full of ashes from the fireplace to use as the focal point. “These,” he told the students, “are the ashes of my ancestors. I always keep them with me to remind me what I’m made of.” And, he launched into a wild story about a forebearer who was a pirate. Another, a statesman, and so on. How handy, when he acted out of character, to point to the jar of ashes and say, “Well, this wasn’t really me. It was my great-great-ever-so-great Grandpa Mortimer who held up that bank down in Texas in the days of the Wild West.” 

These are my rambling thoughts this morning as I look out at the last day of September. Maybe I should collect a jar of ashes, set it on the mantle, and label it “My Excuses for Goofs.” Or not. Maybe those long ago, dim and shadowy fictional ancestors would frown in displeasure. Maybe it’s better to just own up to them. 


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