It is almost Father’s Day and I feel an emptiness inside. It is funny because I thought I made so many decisions because of my kids. The most recent time was when I decided to choose life, kindness and empathy. It was not my preferred option. I did good, the doctors did better, the people around me did the best of all. There are still times when I wish I would have chosen a drink, a smoke and a high cliff. There is a sense of duty to life that seems to shout at those times. I hear not my voice, but those of others and selfishness slowly, painfully leaves. I don’t know what or why that voice or sense of duty exist, but I fear its’ sway is waning. Not in me, but with the young. Don’t let it go unappreciated. Too many bad choices. My ways and experiences are not yours; still know I love, I hurt, I try, and I fail. Always you are in my thoughts.
I hear a lot of talk about bubbles these days, but not much conversation on the one I live in. Don’t get me wrong, I share many qualities of a bubble that is getting talked about since the election, the white working class. I am in my sixth decade of life, male, white and for the first time in a while, we are allowed to have problems. There are even a few people making excuses for some of the stupid things some of us do. Oh, before I go any farther, I left out one important factor, I do not have, nor do I make much money. No one is going to die before me and leave me any money. Now this is going to sound really weird, I am not mad, the only person I hold accountable is me. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am ok with me. I worked for myself most of my life, I have had my fair share of problems and came out not only happy, but more importantly grateful. My relationship with the small church I attend with my family is a great help to me. The man and women that run the church are better people than they are pastors and their pretty good at that. You see, they think a church should be measured in how many lives it truly helps, not how many people attend. They are about love not judgement. I have three children; my daughter is significantly older than the other two and announced her engagement this weekend to her longtime partner. It is legal now, she is a lesbian, it somehow seems like a non-issue. My oldest son has CP and it affects every area of his life in some way. He tends to be the most conservative. He used to see similarities between Sanders and Trump, never was a Hillary fan. I don’t know who he voted for and that’s ok with me. My youngest child, I hesitate to call son because of gender issues, loves history. This interest sometimes conflicts with some of his more liberal leanings, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. The small church I attend has what many would call more of a fundamentalist origin than progressive; still they not only accept all my children, some go to great lengths to help them accept themselves. I have an almost equal number of friends on both sides of the political divide. I choose to understand both sides, I refuse to choose between friends. Maybe if we first try to be better people, conduct ourselves with dignity and remember this country is “the great experiment”; we can long endure.
Have you ever worked on something for years and missed an important piece that has been right in front of your face the whole time? I had that experience today. My initial reaction of shame and stupidity quickly gave way to laughter. I rely on humor for perspective even if it gets a little dark sometimes. I do this because if I venture too far into the labyrinth of self-recrimination I will get lost and I don’t have the time or energy to try and crawl my way out. Just beyond the door of this labyrinth there is a big hill with many forks. It hopefully is not that way for you, but it is that way for some of us. I know it is a steep hill because once I enter I quickly build momentum on my downward spiral. I know it has many forks because there is no straight line from where I end up to where I started. There is a type of consistence to the journey; it is always a long way back to where I began and many of the paths have been well traveled. Funny thing is they seem to be the ones with a dark hole at the end. You know, the hardest ones to climb out of. That is why I open doors carefully. I have become a proponent of not starting down a path that has no real upside. Seems obvious, but I have wandered by a dead-end sign and fell in a hole many times in the past. To know and to do have a tenuous correlation.
Enlightenment without self-discipline has little value and self-discipline is best exercised before you start down the hill. Inspired by England’s response to the recent terrorist attacks’ I have decided to have a “stiff upper lip”. I loved the picture of the man leaving one of the scenes walking slightly faster than normal, but careful not to spill a drop of his pint., or the man when asked, “how long do you think people will be afraid” he responded, “My good man, fear is not the appropriate response to terror. We are British don’t you know? We simple carry on. Perhaps you mistook someone grieving for fear. We do grieve, we just prefer you do it in a quiet manner.” I personally don’t care how someone chooses to grieve. However, the effectiveness of your emotional response, accompanying thought pattern, and behavior to a given realization should be given careful thought. It is easy to think we can’t control our emotions and thoughts, even though we tend to hold other people responsible for theirs. In some ways, the more we explore the subject, the more confusing it gets. It is like math and God, most people are better off if they just accept the basic tenets and follow them, rather than struggling to get a deep understanding. I have two simple rules; the first one is “just don’t go there”. Like when the British guy said, Fear is not the appropriate response to terror.” There can be honor in humility, but little is gained by self-recrimination. My second rule is “be kind”; to yourself as well as others. That’s all I got and more than you wanted.