Of Stews and Character

I do like stews.  Beef stew that is.  I think I make a pretty good one and evidently others think so as well.

I was savouring the taste of one of these stews last week when I realised that I couldn’t taste any of the specific ingredients I had put into it.  The mature stew had taken on another, blended taste, created from the intermingling of the ingredients I had used.  It was a result of the meat, vegetables, herbs and spices touching each other and each imparting its particular flavour to the mix.  The flavour was unique.

It wasn’t a big jump for me to think of the people that have touched me throughout my life and made me into someone who is uniquely different from any of those influences.

That is who we are, aren’t we?  Each of us is a unique intermingling of all those influences that touched us in our past.  Probably more our past from decades ago than those of yesterday, but people can arrive in our lives to influence us at anytime.  These can cause us to change or grow into someone a little bit different than before.

Some influences are good and some not so much so.

I started thinking of all the people that have influenced who I am, but the list became so long that I decided to summarize my thoughts into categories of influences.  Here is what I came up with.


There are those people whom I learned something positive from, something to adopt, who modelled some behaviour or attitude that I recognized as a characteristic that I wanted to emulate.

Then there are those that I learned from because they demonstrated behaviour or had a characteristic that I didn’t like and didn’t want to emulate.  I am pleased that they rubbed off on me, because it saved me a detour that I’m glad I didn’t have to experience.

The behaviour of people with, what I consider to be, good values.  Honesty, responsibility, fairness, trust and more.  Those values that, by osmosis, have become part of me.

And faith.  Those who keep their lives centred through their belief in God.

There are the academics, the teachers, the thinkers.  Those with IQs that tower above mine.  They made me stop and think when I might not have done so on my own.  They helped me to stretch my intellect.

And the athletes.  Those with boundless physical energy, coordination and skills that allowed them to be a great support when you were on their team or a dreaded opponent when not.  Regardless, I always appreciated them and learned something that made me a better athlete at the time.

I have come to appreciate those who just get on with life regardless of the bad influences that have been thrown at them.  They help to bring me down from a level of probably irrational ,high expectations of others.  These same expectations make me critical of myself and concerned about what I can’t do.  I feel humble in their presence when I see what they have been dealt in life and then how they are just living it, making the most of everyday that they can.

And what about those who love and compliment instead of criticize or who take the time to point out blunders that you already know you’ve made.

Those who push me.  Make me believe I can do better and once I have, ask me to consider yet another level of achievement or quality of work.  I have limits, but I’m not sure I would have pushed myself to those limits on my own.  This is all about being the best I can be and it can be a tough row to hoe on my own.  They kept me company and helped me stay on track with whatever I was doing.

The masters.  Those who are not only literate, but have worked a long time to become masters in their chosen field.  They have much experience, often a high IQ, and haven’t shunned meritocracy.  I have been touched by some in music, engineering, leadership, sports, business, and the arts.  Without these people I’d never have matured in my interests and expertise as much as I have.


I have been touched by all these and more.  I am not any one of them.  I am a unique blend of all that has happened to me and all those I have known.  I have been placed in the pot of life with many and witnessed much.  All this has influenced who I am.  As I age, I change.  Just like a stew, I mature.  There are tomorrows.  If I carried a pot of stew with me to those tomorrows it would taste different, just like I will be different as I make use of the knowledge and experiences I had in the past and gain in the future.  Each new day gives me the chance to be touched by more people, have more experiences, and grow just a bit more.  I can’t wait.