Can You Get Away? – Family #3

Getting Away

When I was 18 I went away to college. I never returned home to live even though I had many opportunities. I had to leave two colleges, one closing down unexpectedly, one because I ran out of money. When I finished college I had to choose where to live and the choices didn’t include moving to my parent’s town. When my first wife and I had to return to California from Graduate School, we had to choose between the town where my parent’s lived or hers.  We chose hers.

No Return

Why didn’t I want to return? Because I didn’t want to be like my parents. When I returned to visit I always remembered why I didn’t want to be like them and moving close to them seemed in my mind to be a recipe for being influenced to be more like them.  Be far away and that won’t happen was my thought. And to some degree it was true. I was influenced by other people, other families, by being far away. It really is an important element to many people growing up and into their own unique selves. However, no matter how far away I was, my family was still with me.

Being Deliberate

At that time, those family traits included alcoholism and a short temper, among other things. And those things stayed with me whether I was 3,000 miles away or right next door. I was still a product of my parents and my upbringing and no amount of distance was going to remove that. What did remove much of it (not all) was hard work. Was being deliberate about wanting to change and doing the work necessary to make that change permanent. That included stopping drinking in 1993 so I wouldn’t travel down the same road my mother did. It included working consciously to reduce my anger, frustration and annoyance with the small things in life that bedeviled my father for most of his life. That sort of change is always conditional. There are things that can make me crazy, but they are few and far between. I don’t think my reputation as an adult now would include having a short temper.

Keeping The Good

But there is another side to this and that is no matter how far you travel, you also won’t completely lose the wonderful parts of your family either. I stayed away but I still had my mother and father’s easy-going ability to befriend anyone and everyone. I still had her sense of humor. I still had my father’s intellectual curiosity about the world. I am glad I carry those things with me, no matter how far away I am.

How far have you traveled from your family, and have you been able to really get away?

Drawing and commentary © 2017 Marty Coleman |

“They who fly from their own family have far to travel.” – African Proverb

Be Made of Sticks – Teamwork #4


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You Are the Bundle

This was an interesting one to draw. Once I finished the drawing I didn’t really like it much. It just didn’t make sense. A woman holding a bundle of sticks is going to stop some jerk?  The I realized it wasn’t the bundle of sticks doing the stopping, it was the woman. the WOMAN was the bundle. She was strong because of all the various ‘sticks’ she was made of.  She isn’t just strong as one thing, she is strong because she is many things.  Each of those things by themselves might be a weakness, but even the weakest stick is strong when in a bundle, right?

All Of You

That is why your supposed flaws are really only dangerous to you if you are ONLY your flaws. But you aren’t. You are your strength, your humor, your perseverance, your attitude, your skill, your craft, your intelligence, your wisdom, your judgment, your toughness.  In with those things are also your fears, your anger, your panic, your laziness, your self-righteousness, your forgetfulness, your selfishness, your lack of common sense.  They make you stronger than if you are just one thing.  And that means, if you bring all those things out, even some of the negative ones, at the right time, you won’t be broken.

Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman |

Quote is a Kenyan proverb


Only a Fool

Sometimes it’s good to jump in, other times it’s not.  When to be careful and when to throw caution to the wind is a delicate art. It can lead to bad consequences and it can lead to great leaps of wonder.  How to know the difference isn’t easy.  The only advice I have is to be as thoughtful and intelligent as best you can, but test with one foot first!

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote is an African proverb
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