Monday, May 16, 2011

Life Lessons from Family: Uncle Borrvs

Have you ever wondered how I got to be so awesome? I was thinking the same thing.

I am “me” because of a million and one amazing combinations of lessons, enlightenments, and experiences. Some of the most prominent of those experiences in my life, luckily, have been learned through my family and close friends. I will spend the next several days, maybe weeks, reflecting on those experiences and how these incredible people of all kinds have shaped my life. I would just encourage you to do the same. Hard truth: you don’t have too many completely original thoughts (if any). Someone at sometime helped get you there.

Don’t let that discourage you! Because chances are, that your inherent awesomeness has in no doubt affected someone else’s life positively! Isn’t that super cool?

Uncle Borrvs

For those of you who know Uncle Borrvs, this would seem like such an odd place to start. For one, my time with him compared to the other people in my life has been very short. For two, he speaks mostly in enigmas and riddles and rants. Yet, I truly believe that he has influenced me in some of the most profound ways.

Lesson #1: Don’t let other people label you. Label yourself.

The most incredibly awesome thing about Uncle Borrvs is that he somehow manages consistently to be different than any other person you’ll ever meet. He falls into ZERO stereotypical categories (think about how hard that is) and just when you think you have him figured out…BAM. You don’t.

Born with the name proper name William, Uncle Borrvs had since changed his name (the rumor I heard was after a cartoon spider he was particularly fond of) and graduated from Georgetown University with a philosophy degree.

Most of my life he wore full black and brown leather suits with vests and long coats no matter what the weather. He didn’t wear a wrist watch, but rather carried a silver pocket watch. His hands were full of large silver rings shaped like dragons, snakes, and swords. Sometimes he adorned a cowboy hat, but he always wore his light brown hair down to his knees. He washed that hair once a year with olive oil.

In other words, if Uncle Borrvs wasn’t blood related, I would definitely question the amount of time (if at all) I would have been permitted to be around him.

Uncle Borrvs didn’t let the world define him. He defined himself. And he is awesome at it.

Lesson #2: Philosophy and logic is an amazing way to make people really mad / Don’t take arguments with others too seriously
Spending time with Uncle Borrvs for me is like spending time with a genius from another planet. He can respectfully and tactfully converse about any topic whatsoever (especially the super controversial ones) and most of the time you are left feeling even more confused about the world than when you started.

I have seen others get so extremely intoxicated with anger and frustration speaking about the simplest of topics with him. Uncle Borrvs always kept his cool and would incredibly intelligently dance around the topic with such ease that the conversation became impervious to any opposition, no matter how ridiculous and asinine his stance.

It was, as a child just learning the ways of intellectual rebellion, absolutely inspiring.

Uncle Borrvs is a very convicted man. But, most of the time, I think, he was really just trying to push buttons. He didn’t really care so much about the arguments at all.

Now, I am definitely a debater for the sheer sake of the debate. I would also contend that Uncle Borrvs also shared in this passion for respectful banter, or even non-respectful banter simply for the sake of the banter. The overwhelming beauty of a carefully selected argument. The irresistible allure of perfectly chosen and laid out logic.

Most other people? Not so much. A lot of people insatiably crave to win arguments. They approach a hot topic of conversation ravenous for a clear successor of the discussion.

Uncle Borrvs’ circular logic and shades of grey colored semantics are utter hell for a black and white traditionalist.

And, quite honestly, that makes it way too much fun for those of us out in the grey.

Thanks to Uncle Borrvs I can sit through any argument whatsoever without getting much flustered at all. Arguments are just that. Arguments! They’re words. That’s all. I guess you could say that part of what I’ve learned from Uncle Borrvs is a glorified version of “sticks and stones.”

No matter how insane Uncle Borrvs might have seemed through his appearance and/or conversation he was always respectful. He is one of the most intelligent men I have ever met and he would never make you feel inferior in any way than he.

He isn’t just a great orator, but also one of the best listeners I have ever met. He taught me to listen to others without judgment. He taught me that everyone has a story and everyone’s ideas are invaluable and should be heard.

He taught me that no one can set their expectations on you for your life.

Set your own expectations. Maybe keep your name though.

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