Who Are You? My Name Is William Dale Holland and This Is My Life
The inspiration for this article came from my online nephew, Josh; if you would like to give him a shout out you can find him at http://josh3418.hubpages.com/.
How do we summarize who we are in 1,500 words? A lifetime of experiences and lessons learned, condensed into a packaged array of words; is it truly possible? Can words ever do justice to the intricacies of the human spirit?
That is the task before me. As I stare at the blank screen I try to sort it all out; sixty-three years of living on this planet, the thousands of people who have impacted my life, all crammed into this small space, exposing who I am for your review.
This endeavor seems impossible. Not that I believe I am a complicated man for I truly do not; it is just so much to shrink into a package that others will find readable. Yet that is the goal of any writer, is it not? Each time we sit down to compose, our job is to mold our words into something meaningful. And so it is now! We will begin, I guess, at the beginning.
AN ABBREVIATED FAMILY TREE
Dale LeRoy Holland and Evelyn Josephine O’Dowd were my parents. Darlys was my sister and toss in all of the aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. I share DNA with none of them and yet they were my heart and soul. It is impossible to discuss who I am without first mentioning the influence my family had on me.
In the interest of brevity I will summarize my family’s influence on me in one word……love! I grew up knowing that I was loved. I grew up knowing that despite my transgressions, despite my insecurities and weaknesses, that I would always be loved. My family was the ultimate safe place, the bunker where I hunkered down when the bombardment of life became overwhelming.
Describe who you are! What would you say? How much detail would you give if asked to perform that task? If I were not totally engaged in the answer I would say I was adopted, had a good childhood, became a teacher, a father, a husband, an alcoholic and now a sober writer. Sixty-three years in a nutshell. A fifteen second thumbnail look at Bill Holland. We are a convenience society are we not? Why not give a convenient, slick answer that has no substance at all? Isn’t that how many conversations go nowadays? How are you? I’m fine, how about you? What are you up to these days? Not much, same old same old. How about you? And so it goes, no depth, no connection, just two ships passing in the night, on our way to who knows where. The obligatory questions and responses which of course carry with them the obligatory illusion of caring.
But who am I, really?
Sensitivity to a depth which invites pain, that’s who I am. In my early years I cared far too much what people thought of me, so much so that I eventually lost sight of who I was in order to please everybody. An exhausting undertaking for sure but oh, so safe! I am still sensitive today; I can still suffer injured feelings, can still be struck down by words of malice, but today I accept the occasional rejection in favor of living my life on my terms. Certainly not as safe but so much more rewarding.
Empathy and compassion seem to control my heart; where does that come from? I feel your pain! I celebrate your happiness. I feel your tears on my cheeks and my spirit soars when yours does, as if I am piggybacking on your elation. No, dammit, I don’t want to feel so much! Please, don’t reach inside of me with your pain? Just nod at me and pass by; don’t plant the seeds of emotions that will haunt me into the night. I want to lay down at night without crying. I want to look at a newspaper without anguishing over the torment that is told on those pages. I want to watch children play in the park without seeing their future bodies wasted by alcohol and drugs.
Don’t tell me what is wrong with you! Can’t you see how it affects me? Can’t you see what you are doing to my serenity? Have you no compassion for me?
But it is necessary! Without empathy and compassion we are but hollow husks, mere empty vessels that carry no cargo, and that is not life.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T GO ON?
“Life will knock you down, Bill. You have to get up and always move forward.”
I’ve tried, Dad! I remembered your words when I was crawling in the gutters. I remembered your words when my soul ached and I felt abandoned by the human race. I have tried! “When you are going through hell don’t stop to enjoy the scenery.” I remember, Dad! I kept moving forward. Sometimes one inch at a time…one hour, one day, pushing on, looking for that light that would signal peace of mind….peace of heart. It was an ever-so-slight glimmer of hope but I kept my eye on it, reaching out, afraid to close my eyes lest I lose sight of it. Always forward! Always forward!
ODDS AND ENDS
Real men don’t cry! Well, this man does and today he celebrates the ability to find tears of joy in a newborn baby. Words of endearment will moisten my eyes; words of hate will bring sadness and yes, tears. It’s not supposed to be like this, is it? I’m supposed to be strong and not show emotions. And yet, in showing emotions, I reveal an inner strength of character I do not want to forfeit.
I detest phoniness. I detest bullcrap! Say what you mean; I’m a big boy and I can take it. Not everyone is going to like me and I’m fine with that, so if you don’t like me say it and then get out of my face. Don’t act like we are best friends while you sharpen the knife, waiting for the perfect moment to plunge it into me.
I was born a dreamer and a dreamer I will always be. Why can’t dreams come true? The only limitations are those we place on ourselves. We were not put on this planet to trudge through a life in ankle-deep quicksand of our own making. Man was meant to fly above all restrictions, the finest of creatures. Toss off those shackles and spread your wings. I believed that when I was five years old and I’ll still be spreading my wings when my final days arrive.
Cruelty is unacceptable. Rudeness should not be tolerated. We have earned the right to be treated with respect. To turn our back on cruelty and rudeness is to silently give approval.
Negativity saps the life force from within and it has no place in my existence. It is my responsibility to create a positive atmosphere in which to live, and if it is necessary to eliminate negative people from my life I will do so. Today I choose to be happy. I am the only one in my life who can make that choice.
One must have a personal code of ethics, a set of principles that serve as a beacon when no one else is watching. In the end there is always the mirror and it never lies. We can bob and weave among our peers, shuck and jive with strangers and manufacture for the world to see whatever image we desire, but the mirror never lies. Today I don’t mind looking in the mirror; there were days, not so long ago, when I hated that damn looking-glass.
Give back….give back….give back! It is ingrained in me! It is part of my fiber! There will always be someone who has it worse than me. There will always be someone who needs a shoulder to lean on until they can stand on their own. They are my responsibility! To push them aside and hope that someone else will come to their aid is beneath me. After all, I needed others to survive and in truth I still do. How can I turn my back on needy when I so desperately needed others?
My house is bigger than your house! My car is more expensive, my bank account makes yours look like a piggybank and my clothes are nicer than yours. Take a look at me because I have arrived! Well, no, in truth you are still playing the child’s game of “King of the Mountain.” It just doesn’t matter! Sorry, ladies, but size does not matter, not when we are measuring the girth of a person’s character. Put away the child’s toys and embrace the reality of life and all that true living has to offer. To state it another way, toss aside the ego and find true humility.
THE INEVITABLE CONCLUSION
1,500 words describing who William Dale Holland really is; it turns out it is impossible, just as it is impossible to describe any of you reading this. We are complex creatures, vessels comprised of bone, muscle, nerve endings and organs. We are seven billion in number and yet each unique, like snowflakes falling upon the landscape of time eternal.
I am William Dale Holland, son of Evelyn Josephine O’Dowd and Dale Leroy Holland, and yet so much more.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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