“Who has been the greatest influence in your life?”
I wasn't prepared for that question. It's one I often ask other people when I want to probe deeply and get inside their heart and head. What's funny is that I have actually never been asked it myself.
Rosita looks at me, waiting expectantly. She's a journalist for the Mexican paper Reforma. After many years of working in Mexico with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, the government has given me a citation for my contribution to the people of Mexico. It's from the Cabinet Minister in charge of Human Affairs.
I'm staring out at several hundred people in the audience who came for the award ceremony. I try to digest Rosita's question. A photographer is snapping pictures. There are microphones everywhere—radio and national television.
“So, tell me,” Rosita asks in excellent English, “who has been the greatest influence in your life?” I actually have never given that a great deal of thought. But now I have to answer.
“It's my father,” I tell her, almost blurting it out. I have never said that out loud before, and I certainly have never consciously realized it. He was the greatest influence of my life, and I didn't even know it at the time. My most important relationship.
Oh, the stories I could tell. He taught me to ride a bike. He never learned to do that himself.
There's another story I remember. I sat next to George Morrison in the fourth grade. He is the class bully. A huge guy. And I am the one he always ...