Influenced By:

October 15, 2007 at 10:28 pm 17 comments

I’ve been reading Memoirs of a  Geisha by Arthur Golden.  My first impression was that the life of a Geisha was much more squalid than I had believed.  My second was that much of this story reminded me of the stories I’d heard of the Octoroon Balls and the society that created them from about the same time period.  We women are a resiliant and resourceful bunch. 

There was one sentence from Geisha that has stuck with me:  “We viewed ourselves as pieces of clay that forever show the fingerprints of everyone who has touched them.” 

I’ve always looked at babies as pieces of clay,  waiting for that combination of people and circumstances that will mold them into the adult they will someday be.  I can see the influence of the people I’ve bumped into in myself, so much more than that I look like my father, but have my mother’s coloring.  The person I am today is the result of many people’s influence, some good, some bad.

Friends, family, co-workers, strangers I’ve talked to in airports and hospital waiting rooms…they’ve all poked, prodded and helped in the creation of the me that lives today.  I can directly attribute the fact that I’m nice to everyone to the people who’ve passed through my life and were mean to me. 

What about you?  Who were you influenced by?

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Entry filed under: Books, randomness, Social commentary.

A Cautionary Tale What We Learn From Play

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lauraj  |  October 16, 2007 at 2:49 am

    I was influenced by adults who took the time to talk to me, cared for me, and showed me love. Mostly women who were teachers, as well as my catechism teacher who later became my neighbour. I miss her today and it’s been 20 years since we’ve last seen eachother. Then there’s my 4rth grade teacher. Then there’s my best friend T right now. My dad’s wife comes to mind. Mostly women who have touched my life and helped me to become the woman I am. And I guess I should mention my adoptive mom as well because I wouldn’t be me if she had had no part in my life, even if it wasn’t a positive one, she taught me so much about what kind of person NOT to become.

    Reply
  • 2. katcampbell  |  October 16, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Laura J – Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes I think the negative people who’ve wandered through my life have had a much more profound effect on me than anyone else. I can always see how I DON’T want to be.

    Reply
  • 3. QuillDancer  |  October 16, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    My biggest influence, by far, was my maternal grandmother. Two of my close friends also make huge impressions on who I am. Joanne never lost her grace, her humor or her faith during her year long struggle with a septic kidney. She was in horrendous pain and knew she was dying — yet neither her smile nor her kindness ever wavered. And my friend Petra taught me not to compromise my own morals, values or principals, no matter what.

    Reply
  • 4. nessa  |  October 16, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    My greatest influence has been my mother. She is a very strong, smart, opinionated and caring person. She is also very negative and critical, so it’s been fun.

    Reply
  • 5. katcampbell  |  October 16, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Quilly – Joanne sounds amazing and unforgetable and we all need an influence like Petra. My girlfriends and sisters have left many fingerprints on me, but it was my Dad that taught me never to compromise.

    Nessa – Best of both worlds! I wonder if the critical aspect comes from our mother’s generation? Mine died in 1995, but she was the same way.

    Reply
  • 6. colleen  |  October 16, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    And isn’t is funny how you post is about clay and the impressions it makes and mine is too.

    I’ve been thinking about your question and having a hard time finding an answer. A woman name Bernice who modeled how to care for kids when I was a day care aide influenced me a lot and I went on to take what I learned into my own mothering years later.

    Reply
  • 7. Jamaican Dawta  |  October 16, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing that quote. Very profound. Great post.

    For the greater part of my life, women had a great impact on my life – my mother, grandmothers, cousin, godmother, and teachers. Now that I work with children and young people in a Pathfinders’ Club, I try with God’s help to be a positive role model to them, by my words and actions.

    Reply
  • 8. Absolute Vanilla... (& Atyllah)  |  October 16, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    I thought Memoirs of a Geisha was an insightful and thought provoking book – I found the movie more disturbing than I did the book though.
    As for influences, I think those who shaped me were multiple – good and bad, loving and cruel. I think though that it’s what we personally do with those impacts and touches in our lives – because we choose, don’t we, how we will respond to the people and circumstances that affect us and we choose who and how we will be.
    Great post, Kat.

    Reply
  • 9. katcampbell  |  October 16, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Colleen – I thought the same thing when I visited your blog this morning!

    JD – What excellent work you do! Every day shaping the clay that will be your countries future.

    AV – I liked the book and I haven’t seen the movie. You’re so right, we do choose how we’ll respond to those we pass.

    Reply
  • 10. Dave M  |  October 17, 2007 at 12:01 am

    My role model came along when I was about 30. He was a neighbour called Douglas and would have been in his 70’s when we moved into the street where he lived. Very briefly Douglas was an eccentric academic who lived on his own, but not only was he an academic he was also a skilled craftsman. He was the ideal neighbour, liked by everyone, helpful, if you wanted something and Douglas didn’t have it he would make it. Over the years he became a family friend, accompanying us on many outings. You know when you get to the stage in your life when you question what do you reallly want out of this life, so my thinking was that I wanted to be someone similar to Douglas. I dont have his academic or craft skills, but I try in the other areas that he was good at. Even though he has been gone many years now he is still looking at me as I type this. I have his pen and ink self portrait on the wall next to me.

    Reply
  • 11. katcampbell  |  October 17, 2007 at 5:32 am

    Dave: That is a beautiful story. All anyone can ask of their life is to be remembered like this by someone else. You’re wonderful.

    Reply
  • 12. hayden  |  October 17, 2007 at 8:02 am

    teachers. all that influenced me deeply were teachers. I was lucky that way.

    I got in to college because my creative writing teacher took over and got me admitted (and paid for) at community college when I was frozen and didn’t know what to do.

    In community college I met Beryl, a professor who became my second mother. She was the first woman role model – (real job, life on her own terms, married but not an appendage to a man, etc.) that I had. She still sends me reading lists……

    Reply
  • 13. Janet  |  October 17, 2007 at 8:28 am

    oh, gee, there have been so many. I guess like you, all the people who were nice to me and all the people who were mean to me.

    Reply
  • 14. J.  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Ooooh, that’s a loaded question for me. And, due to the risk of creating a blog entry in your comments, I’m going to leave that one alone.
    😀

    Reply
  • 15. smileymamaT  |  October 18, 2007 at 4:30 am

    My two Grandmas. Grandma J who always had a pretty Sunday outfit and bought me my only nice clothes, and looked, even at her kitchen table in her pajamas with a coffee cup and a Salem, like a queen to me. She taught me tranquility and perseverance. Grandma S who sat under her kitchen table to play with us and taught us childhood friendship songs and made us crackers-creamcheese-and-eggs for breakfast. She taught me unconditional love and kindness. My two Grandmas.

    Reply
  • 16. Linda  |  October 18, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    My mom’s parent’s were probably my biggest influences. My Grandfather was a quiet man who was gentle and kinds. He would spend time with me. From him I got my love of gardening (which I am sorry to say will never compete with his) and my love of animals. He kept chickens for years and he always loved cats and dogs. My grandmother (his wife) was the life of the party, she loved to have a good time and never hesitated to tell you what was on her mind. She was a pistol. Their memory puts a smile on my face.

    Reply
  • 17. Shameless  |  October 24, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Nice post. One of those books is talked about over at Hidden side of the leaf … interesting concept! 🙂

    Reply

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