Brother Peter's Musings

Peter P. Jones

Facebook Page - July 3, 2020

MUSINGS (Given our "current situation", things to think about in filling up repetitive days!):

My oldest brother, David Lewis Jones, was brilliant. Not in some offhand complimentary way. He actually tested high in the top 1% of folks on an IQ test at the time. He was the first black student to earn the right to be valedictorian of his class at Cairo High School in 1964...which promptly caused the school to suspend having a valedictorian that year! Since there was a bunch of us to follow him, the fact of his intelligence could prove problematic for the rest of us! My second brother, John Henry, was probably the best athlete among us, followed by Julie Ann Marie, who had the perfect combination of looks, intelligence, diligence, compassion and empathy (I think she got my helping of empathy!). Then there was Fred Wesley. Fred was highly intelligent, a good athlete and could convince Eskimos to give him their land in Alaska in exchange for the right to buy property in Texas on which to build igloos! Not a "con" man exactly .... because he would truly believe that there was value in Eskimos building Igloos in Texas! Then there was me. I've been doing intellectual gymnastics the last few months in trying to understand the basis of how I came to be the "me" that I am today. I'm fortunate enough to have the time to waste on such a project. Quite often they say it starts in childhood. So, as I looked back at my childhood, nothing in particular stands out, other than my siblings that I was around. I never viewed myself as in competition with any of them. As I think back on it...I've never viewed myself as being in competition with anyone. I always accepted that others are themselves with the gifts they are imbued with .... and I am me, with the gifts I am imbued with. (Not completely true, on my high school track team, I would always come in 2nd to another student. It was there I learned that 2nd place is actually the 1st Loser. I threw away every one of those 2nd place ribbons.). The only familial goal/competition I ever had was with the standard set by my mother of being able to finish reading a book in one day. My mother did this regularly. I finally accomplished it when I was around 17 years old....then promptly cut back on my reading!

Even with "the Joneses" expected to be good and intelligent in school (thanks David!), my mother and father never really put any pressure on me (or "us" to my knowledge) to perform. They didn't review our homework, didn't do any at-home tutoring, didn't particular spend much time reviewing our report cards. The only admonishment that we were hit with was "Don't you embarrass us in those streets!". So, at some point I developed the personal ambition to always do well at school. Since school was the sum total of our lives outside of the Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall, it gave me something to do other than watching one of the two TV channels we had access to. But "doing well" was always a casual ambition. I also always prided myself on how little effort I put into school work. I remember in 3rd grade deciding that I wanted to turn in the most nicest set of school books at the end of the year. In those days at the end of the school year they would collect all the books that you used that year for the next class year, and I believe in the 2nd grade, Mrs. Chambliss had given special attention to some of the students that turned in a nice set of school books. So in 3rd grade I barely even opened any of my books! I wanted that "attaboy"! An important lesson was learned from that, too, however. At the end of that year, they told us we could keep all of those books, because new editions were coming out the next year! So, I learned that relying on others for "attaboys!" was behavior that put you at the mercy of other people's decisions. I stopped worrying about culling "attaboys!" from others thereafter (unless there was a check attached!).

More to follow!