The Wonder Years
It’s only right for me to be upfront and honest. I loved The Wonder Years. Not so much because the show was amazing, but because I loved me some Gwendolyn “Winnie” Cooper. The show debuted in 1988, the year I turned 11. Winnie (Danica McKellar) was one of my very first crushes. In fact, the only one that comes to mind that predates Winnie Cooper was Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) from the Jim Henson movie, The Labyrinth. It pleases me to see how they’ve aged; Jennifer Connelly at 41 and Danica McKellar at 35 look pretty good. After that disclosure, you’re probably not shocked that I ended up marrying a brunette with ambery hazel eyes. I guess you never outgrow good taste.
Anyway, with Red asleep, TD and I had 25 minutes to burn before picking Angie up from work to head to Smokey Row for dinner. So, we sat down on the couch together to flip through some channels. TV is rarely the choice we make, but there are certain days when I can just tell that he needs to chill for a while. Now, when TD and I watch TV, I understand that there are going to be 500 questions that result, so I choose what subjects I want to talk about. Last night, we were able to catch part of Top Gun on AMC — ever tried explaining to a 4 year-old the conditions required to induce a flat spin or why Goose would have flown without Maverick even if he would have hated it? Seriously. Then, during one of AMC’s many, many, many commercial breaks, we watched some Scrubs — the doctor show as TD calls it. We haven’t watched it for probably 6 months, but he still knew Elliot, JD and Dr. Cox — great characters are hard to forget. When we ran into commercials on both shows — we pulled up the DirecTV guide again, and guess what we saw? The Wonder Years.
We flipped over to The Wonder Years, which delighted TD enormously. He loves learning about things that I loved as a kid. Then again, he loves hearing stories about things he loved when “he was little,” so take that with a grain of salt. Anyway, we caught the episode right at the time when the conflict was reaching its apex (which, if you know The Wonder Years, you know that moment existed in every episode). In this one, a teacher was in conversation with students, telling them they could do this thing that they weren’t permitted to do, but that the consequences would be severe. He said, “this kind of decision is where you find out the cost you’re willing to pay for your convictions.”
Talk about integrity. I consider the ultimate integrity to be living by your convictions at all costs. And that quote got me thinking. Where is it that I least live by my convictions? Probably with my family outside Angie and my kids. I’m honest with them, but a lot of times I just don’t bring things up because I don’t want to deal with the fallout. But really, that’s not consistent with what I believe in — it’s self-seeking. I don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to have to deal with the ramifications of truth. Typically, I’ll hint at something then hope they discover it on their own so I don’t have to be a part of the recovery. You know what I mean?
However, if I’m really going to be a man of integrity, I don’t get to take a break in some area of my life. If my identity is truly what I believe it is, then my behavior must change. If my behavior doesn’t change, then I don’t really believe what I say I believe. I started today by bringing something up that I really didn’t want to have to bring up. But if I want the way I talk and think about my family to match up with how I actually treat my family, I have to start being more open about the issues in their lives. In this case, I choose love, even if it’s not very comfortable.
Where do your stated beliefs stray from the reality of your actions? Is it time to change your behavior or is it time to admit to yourself what you actually believe? Or do you just want to go on lying to yourself? Find the place where the cost becomes too expensive to live by your convictions, that’s where you’ll find the lies you tell yourself.