Thursday, December 08, 2011


Actions have consequences.

A few years ago I was snappish with a woman I see a few times every week, because she did not fully grasp what I was saying due to limited English.
And by reacting in the manner that I did, I presumed too much.
Better than any verbal response could have, the look in her eyes said that I had been unkind.

Since then whenever I deal with her I make sure to be both clear and courteous. There are no words to take back, as it was a question of attitude rather than utterance. But she did not deserve the sharpness.
I have tried to make up for that by attending to my manners.
Still, I wish it hadn’t happened.

During the family’s last vacation in Switzerland I said something rough to my older brother. Under the circumstances, it was not wrong to do so. But it wasn’t right either.
And especially with my brother such things had effect.

Once when he was playing the piano in the ballroom, the owner of the hotel grumpily told him it made his head throb. My brother played very well, and learned any melody strictly by hearing it once. That’s a unique talent.
The look on his face when informed that his music was painful showed that he was hurt and baffled.
I knew that the grumpy proprietor had a monumental hangover. My brother didn’t.
He never played the piano again.

Such occurrences were like doors in his mind slamming shut. The same thing happened when he realized that I drew as well as he did, albeit with less observational honesty. He stopped drawing or painting, and henceforth feigned not to even understand either illustration or perspective.
This was both obsessive self-disrespect and incredible discipline from a remarkably sharp mind.
When mr. A--, a teacher at the local high school, took delight in ripping my brother to shreds over a period of several weeks, Tobias reacted by developing a thorough distaste for the subject that mr. A—taught, in which theretofore he had been brilliant, and failing every class in that field ever after.
Throughout his life such things caused him to limit himself.
I think that in the last years before his death so many pathways had been cut-off that he was incredibly lonesome.

Tobias is with me every day. And I wish that I had been kinder to him when both of us were boys.

Always try to make a good impression.
Actions have consequences.

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Tzipporah said...

Your brother sounds like an exceptional and sensitive soul; I am sorry you lost him.

Anonymous said...

I know what it's like to loose a brilliant brother. I lost mine three years ago this coming January. Exceptional, brilliant and self destructive in many ways. It seems to me the the brightest amoung us carry a heavy burden.

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