Is an ovation really called for?

My siblings routinely accuse me of remembering everything, regardless of how inconsequential the event or circumstance, I seem to retain it.

Shun P. Age 8

I’m not sure how much truth their accusations hold, but I must admit that find myself stuck in a perpetual time warp of sorts on a pretty regular basis, drowning in the depths of my recollections.


When I was growing up there was a family commandment enforced, that stated in no uncertain terms:


“Don’t expect an ovation for doing what you’re supposed to do.”


Admittedly, the meaning behind the commandment was lost upon me until I became much older. My parents worked split shifts to ensure that there was always someone at home, with my Mother working in the morning and my Father working in the evenings the system worked like a well oiled machine.


One of the responsibilities that my siblings and I had was to ensure that we promptly woke our father up at 9:15PM, so that he could shower, eat dinner and head out the door to get to work on time.

It was always an adventure waking up my Dad, in lieu of him being such a hard sleeper he would always wake up with a cataclysmic jump, as if 20,000 volts were suddenly surging through his body.


My Dad would finish his shift and get back home in the middle of the night, being that we were all asleep it gave the illusion that he had never left. Because when we woke up in the morning it would be to the tune of his familiar baritone snore filling the house.


When the need for sleep made its presence felt, My Dad would often sprawl out on the couch in the living room, communing with the Sandman in short order and filling the room with torrential snores that was his hallmark.


On more occasions than I can remember, I would shake my Dad to consciousness to ask him to take me to the museum, the park, the zoo or whatever venue my heart desired at that moment. There was never an instance where my request was met with a “No”, like clockwork he would briefly convulse to an awakened state, pivot off the couch, run his hands through his hair, reach for his shoes, grab his hat and we would head for the door.


In the early 1980’s the Museum Campus in downtown Chicago was a proverbial toy box of sorts. We had the Museum of Science of Industry, Shedd Aquarium, The Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum at our doorstep. We visited each of those museums hundreds of time, which time seeming as if it was my first time there.


To this day, I can’t go by a museum without thinking about these excursions with my Dad, it was these times that colored my childhood.


At the time I was totally unaware that he would have to wake up in a matter of hours to go to work, but he never made mention of the commandment, he just did it.


This is what is missing in the present:

An unceasing need for an ovation has replaced an implicit understanding and commitment to:

 “Doing what you are supposed to do”



  1. Hey Shun P:

    Sometimes I remember things too, some of the things I wish that I would or could forget. But I think that as long as we don’t use the things we remember against people – or against ourselves – then remembering them is alright.

    Now, regarding ovations, I think people do need to get that ovation. I had a meeting with a staff member at work recently, and half the time this employee spent time in a self-indulgent rant about all the contributions they make and how valuable they are to the organization and how they support their coworkers. I didn’t realize initially that this employee was fishing for compliments (that’s why they kept boosting themselves up) and when I didn’t catch on, they said, “It looks like I’m the only one here who has anything favorable to say about me.”

    It was then that I realized that this employee wanted ME to dish out some compliments. That caused me to see just how much some people need ovation – I always refer to it as validation – from others. Is it ever enough that we do good and feel gratified, or do we always need to have others pat us on the back and tell us it’s a job well done? I think there ought to be some middle ground, meaning handing out empty ovations incessantly is one extreme but also, never praising someone when you see their worth and value is the other extreme. Me personally, when I do what I know I’m supposed to be doing, that’s ovation enough for me. If you choose to tell me how pleased you are, that’s great. But if I do not get an ovation from you, I’m okay with that too. Because, you put it so beautifully when you talked about “Doing what you are supposed to do” because THAT is the ultimate ovation for me, although I’m conditioned to give ovations whenever I think they are warranted. Like now: Thank you for this eye opening post.


    1. shunpwrites says:

      Will, I always appreciate your perspective on things. And I agree that there should be a middle ground, because often we tender those accolades after it is too late.

      Often ovations can and should be used as fuel, to get us to that next level!

      Thanks for chiming in my friend!


  2. emersenlee says:

    Next time your siblings give you an earful, just smile and tell them that’s how writers roll…we remember everything:-) The good and bad…a side commentary, ovations may not be needed daily but it’s nice to be acknowledged sometimes. It’s very easy to be thoughtless…it’s a lot harder to always do the right thing.


  3. shunpwrites says:

    I agree wholeheartedly Emersen, everything works in theory, it is the labor that throws people for a loop!


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