“We are the sum of all people we have ever met; you change the tribe and the tribe changes you.”
~ Dirk Wittenborn in “Fierce People”
My Beloved enjoyed the 2005 film adaptation of Dirk Wittenborn’s “Fierce People” over the weekend. It’s the story of a boy, son of massage therapist and an absent anthropologist, who finds a home with a wealthy man and discovers wealthy people can be as strange — and as dangerous — as primitive tribes.
This quote near the end of the movie got me thinking about some of the people I’ve met over the years who have changed me.
- My high school drama coach, Miss Sharp, was one of those teachers whose belief in you makes you believe in yourself. She assigned me to be assistant director for one play — probably because there were not suitable stage parts for me — and helped me learn to block scenes and run the show.
- A colorful, outspoken old lady scared and amazed me when I was a newspaper reporter. She was a hoarder fighting the city to maintain her property, which her neighbors viewed as an overgrown junkyard. While I found her lifestyle disgusting, I admired how she defended her approach to yard work, home maintenance and collecting.
- While I should have admired the editor in chief for whom I once worked as a copy editor, I vowed never to manage like her. She liked to micromanage my page designs and headlines without being willing to figure out how to use the software necessary to design those pages and write those headlines.
- I once worked with a woman named Diane who facilitated focus groups. I remember sitting behind the one-way glass mesmerized by how she deftly wrangled a group of people with disparate opinions and then wrote insightful reports on what she learned.
- My stepchildren rank high on the list of tribe members who’ve changed me. I went into stepparenting thinking I would be the influencer (and hopefully, I have), but I didn’t realize how much my stepchildren would influence me.
These people are sort of like Higgs boson particles, tiny bits of matter responsible for all mass in the universe, only these tribe members are tiny bits of influence in my personal structure. Of course, as Wittenborn observed, I am the sum of all these people and many more, some of whom I’m like and some of whom I’ve vowed to never be like.
Who are some of the change catalysts or Higgs boson particles in your tribe?