Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Little Hand-Holding

When I was about eleven-years-old, my mother rejected me.

We were walking into the grocery store, and I took up my position alongside her and reached to hold her hand. I mean, I always held her hand, so you can quit your laughing. It wasn't like I was a momma's boy or anything. I just wanted to, you know, keep her safe as she crossed the parking lot. So, stop sniggering.

Thing is, my mother decided that she didn't need my help. (Yeah, that's it.) So, she pulled away, and I was forced to walk into Food Town alone. Err, I mean, I had to keep a close eye on her from a distance.

Years later, I came to find out that my mother rejected me not because she didn't enjoy holding the hand of her son, but because she was afraid I would be ridiculed by any friends who might happen to see me. And for that, I'm eternally grateful. Just what I needed: another reason to be picked on.

But, old habits die hard. I'm a hand-holding kind of guy. And I'm not just speaking physically. Throughout the past two years of writing my novel, I've depended on a lot of hand-holding, particularly from the fabulous folks at the on-line writer's forums: Backspace. From learning the craft of writing, to the business of getting published, they've kindly walked alongside me the whole way.

And as far as I've come, I'm not ready to let go, yet. But in many other areas of my life, there were key moments when I remember forcing myself to let go.

In college, I worked for the University of Michigan's Computer Aided Engineering Network (CAEN, as well called it) in Unix software support, among other roles. There was this guy I worked with...an absolutely genius when it came to anything related to programming or computers in general. And that's not an exaggeration. A genius.

Anyhow, I had the privilege of working with him for a few years. But during that time, I tended to rely on him for answers. I ran into something that I didn't know, all I had to do was lean over and ask him. Nevermind I had spent two hours trying to figure it out on my own. In a matter of seconds, he would say, "Well, did you try this?"

Uh, yeah. That was next on my list of things to try. Not!

And so, I formed a symbiotic relationship with him. Okay, okay. I admit. I was a leech, and he was my gracious host. But there came a point where I decided enough was enough. I needed to know how to find these answers on my own. So, I pried my hand from his (allegorically speaking, of course) and faced the world on my own.

Some might say I'm smart for my hand-holding. I've heard it said that in order to become successful, you have to hang around other people who are successful. And while that might not be universal truth, I think there is definitely truth to it. I've accomplished so much in my life, but it is only because of the willingness of others to hold my hand...and in some cases, where they lacked the willingness, I held on anyhow.

So, to everyone who has ever held my hand along the way in my life, I now publically thank you.

And, Mom? Thanks for rejecting me.

1 comment:

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

That's a sweet post, Ryan. And I'm a firm believer that we're never too old for a little hand holding!