The other day, a friend and I were talking about life. Jokingly, I suggested I wouldn’t be surprised if at my funeral someone might say, “Well that was fun to watch while it lasted.”

Afterward the words refused to clear out of my head. It was as if once out, the words were demanding their due contemplation and closer examination. Apparently a deeply rooted element of my psyche had stepped into the light of day and was refusing to quietly return.

The next day, I took the words along for an hour and a half bike ride along the ocean. And along the way, I discovered some interesting answers to questions I never asked myself before.

Like why am I attracted to strong individuals in life, those who many consider the odd or misfits? Or why, when given a choice to do something new versus something I’ve done before, do I instinctively choose the former?

And why is one of my greatest fears that I will run out of time before I get the opportunity to experience everything life offers?

Funny things can happen when your subconscious comes outside to play.

Sigmund Freud would be pleased to hear much of what I learned during this hour and a half of self-psychoanalysis ties back to my mother. And probably, for most of us, this is true as well.

I now recognize my mother as a misfit. While she did her best to blend into the surroundings of her time and era, the gypsy mentality of living life with an engaging spirit to all and everything around her was always on display. She made the life of those around her remarkable.

An immigrant to the United States in the 1950s, she arrived in New York with essentially a suitcase and her name. And she never looked back. Her ability to look for the good in people, shake off the bad and always move forward in life became an ethos she would instill in me years later.

I remember once sitting up watching a variety show and a segment coming on with a musician playing the piano. Dressed in glitter, rings on all his fingers and a giant candelabra on the white grand piano, I asked why he was so different.

“People might make fun of him, but this is America and he’s laughing all the way to the bank,” she said.

I remember how that stuck with me — my mother putting an influential seal of approval for me to view people who were different as the true risk-takers, the courageous. For years, she would continue to come back to this theme of not being afraid to be yourself and not letting the fear of things not turning out as you planned keep you from experiencing life.

I was 15 when her bright candle unexpectedly went out, her passing from the side effects of a routine operation. But fortunately, and what I realized in my hour of self-psychoanalysis, she’d successfully passed along her candle to me to carry.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207;

President & Publisher

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