Changed, But The Same

     By the time I get home I’m exhausted, my feet just barely leaving the ground with each step. The bus ride took an hour longer because of the rain we’ve had for the past month. As I walk up the muddy path to my house, I wince after each foot forward squelches into the dark muck and turns the white rims of my new shoes brown. I feel a vibration in my pocket and exhaling exasperatedly; I take the call from my mom “ James, are you almost home”. She tells me that the basement has finally started to flood after holding out for this long, and it’s flooded badly. Half a foot of murky water dripped through the walls as my family and I went about our days. I work my way up the rest of the way to the house, hurrying this time, and start to help cleaning. As my brother, sister, and father trudge up the path each in turn we start to work. Barefoot, I fill bucket after bucket full of hurricane Irene and the tropical storms and dump them in the driveway, adding to the soaked earth and make a stream down the hill. We work out a system, I lift the heavy buckets of brown water out of the basement, and my sister dumps it into the driveway to roll down the hill. Meanwhile, my mom and dad vacuum up the many inches of water and put them into buckets to be handed to me. But after a few minutes of this, I feel as though there’s something off. Then I realize, we are going about this inefficiently, and I knew the perfect way to fix the problem and speed the work. I propose the idea to my dad, and am surprised and hurt when my idea isn’t even considered “No, this way is better” he says, and I feel crushed. I stormed away blinded by what I saw as a betrayal, in that moment the world was blurred. Morphed to only see an attack on my obvious genius.
     I know I sound pathetic, but that’s how my brain work. To be honest, I hate physical labor, especially what we did that day with buckets, repetitively lifting and dumping for hours. It’s not always a bad thing though, I worked to make it easier for all of us. But my dad, as the person who came up with the original idea didn’t want to change. He felt in that moment the same way I did, we both had the better idea, but those ideas clashed.
     As I sat inside, I heard my brother talking animatedly to my sister, to him this is a fun family-bonding treat. He smiles as he runs back and forth, helping the rest of us in the small ways he can “This is just like a movie” he says laughing “I want to do this more often”. His laughter had a calming effect on me, my anger was washed away, like our gravel driveway in the storm. When I went back outside, my dad was calmed down too, and considered my idea more seriously, because we are both fundamentally the same, and we both can’t hold a grudge. We finally finish after hours of work in the storm soaked basement, tired, but smiling.
    My father and I are very similar, in our shortcomings and our best features, although there is one issue in which we are completely at odds, religion. Some of my classmates might be offended, but trust me, I didn’t become an atheist because of you. I was raised Christian, so I’m very proud of the fact that I could root through the fairy tales at a young age, and realize I needed to categorize them as just that. Where others turn to miracles, I recognize new discoveries in the field of physics and scientific fact.
    When my parents caught on, from my subtle refusal to pray at meals unless we thanked the people who actually did something to give us our food, and silent protest in church by not paying attention, they didn’t say anything.
    I was surprised, and a bit scared at that age. From what I had heard from the Internet, this was the part where they disowned you, calling you a worshiper of Satan, and never speaking to you again. But this dark image of the people I looked up to was a huge discredit to them. My mom and dad are clearer headed then most people I’ve met in my life, religious or not. Because of this acceptance, I’ve learned to give them more respect, and I’ve grown into an even more open minded and critically thinking person. I’m no longer scared and ashamed of who I am, I can’t hide myself in the dark, because understanding who I am is important.
           Many times in my life, I feel like my grandparents have sensed, if not fully realized the extent of my heathenness. Many visits to them involve sudden transitions from conversations about the movie we just saw to “ God is so good in the world” or, even more ridiculous, “I can’t believe intelligent people believe in global warming”. Of all these visits, one in particular, to a lake house with some relatives stands out.
           I was ten years old, I’m not sure if I knew what an atheist was yet at that age, but I was quite the expert on evolution, fresh out of school for the summer where I had proudly sucked in all the information there was on the subject. I played in the water all day, poking at the hairy spiders under the mossy soaked dock by the house, holding thrilling breath-holding contests with my sister, and learning how to dive by watching in amazement as my mom and an aunt sliced through the surface of the water with barely a splash. In the evening, I sat on a rotten log around the fire that my grandfather built, sleepily eating marshmallows. A step uncle of mine, wanting to know more about me since he lived in Florida, asked me how I liked school, “What are you learning about?” I can imagine the inner groan my dad made when he overheard, of coarse he knew I would talk about evolution, it was all I ever talked about in those days when asked about school. But he also knew how my uncle Spunk would respond. “ If people evolved from apes, how come I don’t see a monkey walking out of the trees over there right now?” I can tell you Spunk you’ve stumped me. In the entire world you are the man to disprove all those heathen scientist how don’t think your wife used to be a rib. You alone thought up the argument that can stump a ten year old.
           I was stumped, not by the man’s incredible skills of pure logic, but by his stupidity. My father and I sat there on our stump wide eyed, we couldn’t figure out how someone could actually be so disrespectful of the reasoning skills that are easy for any human to develop.
           It needs to be said, that when people take an idea to seriously, they start to shape their world around it and not take others seriously. I’m proud to say that I’m like my father, I try to take in every position laid out in front of my and think it through. I’ve become open-minded and I try to be gracious to everyone who offers the same sort of serious and thought out arguments that I do in a debate. I think in the same ways as my father, and although we don’t always come to the same conclusion, I’ve learned through experience to think before I speak. This last lesson came to me courtesy of my step uncle, who’s vast ignorance on certain  proven subjects is something I’ll always avoid.