I knew at some point I’d have increasing difficulty to write. There are moments when I find the time and silence to marinate in thought, except I lack creativity and motivation. It’s not like a light, I can’t simply turn it on. My friend Kyle, whose words are written below, was one of the first persons I’ve spoken with about contributing to Full-Time Daddy as a guest blogger. This helps me deliver original content without the stress of – Crap! I haven’t written anything in a week! Kyle is a family man, to say the least, and a good friend with insight that contributes to any conversation. I’m grateful to have his stamp of approval to re-post his words on the FTD site.
Without further delay, here’s Kyle, in his own words:
In some ways, I think I’m looking forward to dying.
Age is the price we pay for knowledge and both contribute to the burdens we bear. As humans, our intelligence has moved along much further, much faster, than our instincts. In learning about history and civilization, it’s funny to think that once upon a time people believed that the world was flat and the weather could be influenced with song and dance. Somewhere down the line, history will look back on us and ask questions about what we did before there was the internet, cell phones, and Twitter. I can tell you, but I recognize now that the young people are doing the same thing I did growing up. Not always listening, but still learning. Making mistakes. Taking chances. Struggling to find a way through a world that doesn’t always make sense.
I was a smart kid that made poor decisions. That’s what the adults would tell you. Now that I’m one of those silly adults, I realize that a lot of what adults tell us as children is just an echo of what their parents told them. For the same reason you might poke holes in a potato before putting it the microwave (so it won’t explode) or open a present on Christmas Eve instead of waiting for Christmas morning. If I’m lucky, I’m about a third of the way through my shuffle around this mortal coil and look forward to making plenty more mistakes. Nevermind what the adults tell me. So many of those same people have only grown older and a little more worried about the economy and guns and health care and the middle east and whatever the news is presenting so that they’ll tune in one more night to know what’s really going on in the world. Their “’til death do us part” just doesn’t really seem to mean as much and we’re seeing a generation of people who got bad advice and now it’s too late to do anything about it. Just ’cause they’ll live longer doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.
Somewhere along the line, I heard about someone who had been asking elderly people who were near the ends of their respective lives what they’d do differently, given the chance to live again. Certainly, there were some canned responses. I wish I had never smoked, I should have gone to church more often, forgive more, curse less, travel more, skydive, or maybe just had the courage to go out and live. Even if these conversations never happened, there was one response that rings in my mind. The wish was “I wish I would have worried less.”
I worry. All the time. I have a two year old daughter, which is more than enough to worry about. The funny thing about the worrying is that I’m very happily married to my best friend. We both have college degrees, good jobs, a house, two reliable vehicles, and reasonably good health. To the majority of the world, I’d think I’m in an enviable position. So what do I have to worry about?
Of my natural grandparents, I’m down to one. My maternal grandparents had seen the world. Scandinavia, the pyramids of Giza, China, Africa (Egypt’s in Africa, I know), and they’ve got the photo albums to prove it. When they passed away within days of each other, I knew nothing of the pyramids of Giza, let alone life. In the recent past, I’ve tried to spend time with my paternal grandmother, the last outstanding of the four. Her husband passed away in a tragic accident when I was too young to remember, but when she talks about him, she gets that far off look in her eyes. She would tell me stories of being the youngest of 17 children (I think her mom was a third wife to her father), some of whom had already passed by the time she came to be. When she was still very young, she was essentially sent “down the road” to go live with another family. I suppose because a little girl on a farm is likely to be seen as more burden than blessing in the 1930’s. The stories she tells about just having enough money to eat and not really knowing they were poor reminds me that they had it a lot worse than I do.
Listening to stories of the children who were rescued from the Nazis during World War II, imagining what it was like to be in Constantinople when the Muslims were able to secure the city they had desired for so long, being one of the Native Americans when foreigners showed up on the shores and compromised generations of a way of life, or even trying to understand what it must be like to be diagnosed with a life threatening condition helps to provide points of reference. As easy as it is to be envious of those who do better, it’s hard to recognize and appreciate what you have compared of what others lack.
Sometimes I feel sad when I see the world around me. As much as social media “connects” us, it seems like we’re losing touch with one another. Beautiful people with money and cars and houses, that spend their time with other beautiful people, probably aren’t as happy as they’d like us to believe. They’d still like to think that they can sell you something that will make you feel better or help you forget the crap you don’t want to deal with.
I’m rambling, I know. Let me bottom line this and I’ll get back to drinking a beer and watching B/W episodes of the Twilight Zone and you can finish perusing Facebook while contemplating your tomorrow. If you need perspective, read a couple obituaries. They’re free and there are new ones printed daily. Obituaries never tell you that the recently deceased had fears and worries that kept them up at night but never came to fruition. Instead, they tend to tell of what a person loved and lived for. What made them happy and who they’ve left in their wake. How they made a difference and how you can carry on their legacy. Even if you’ve never met them, it reminds you that as significant as the memories of their life are, they aren’t even a blip on your radar. Time is a relentless drummer that doesn’t change its tempo for anyone. How you dance to that beat is up to you.
Remember that someday, even if it’s just a series of ones and zeroes, someone will probably write an obituary for you. They’ll tell of how you loved to read or gaze at the stars or play music. How you loved your job or your kids or your hobbies. How you always wanted read the Bible but never made the time and how six-pack abs were just out of reach and someday you were gonna learn to play that dusty guitar in your “music room”. Someone will read it, share a story or two about you, and move on. As depressing as that may seem, no one’s putting it together just yet. That means you still have time to dream, travel, live, love, teach, cry, learn, and see if there just might be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, regardless of how far you have to go to find out. In the meantime, there will be people competing for your attention (including me). Instead of worrying about the things that are out of your control, turn off the TV and give me a call. We can get together, face to face, have a beer, and talk about positive things. I’ve got stories that my wife has heard a hundred times but you never have. Good ones. I’m sure you do, too.
It took me (2013-1979=) 34 years to start to figure this out. With any luck, I’ve still got a few more years to enjoy. Instead of looking back on life and saying I wish I’d have done more and worried less, I’m looking forward to life and saying I’m thankful for the perspective of those who came before me. The only thing I’m worried about now is how that little girl sleeping in the next room is going to learn all the things that I have. For now, we’ll continue to work on colors and numbers, but at the pace things are going, she’ll grow in a different world than I did. Just like I did from the world of my parents, and they did from theirs. Most importantly, I can’t forget that even at two years old, she’s teaching me. She reminds me that cartoons are still fun, coloring is a great way to pass the time, and going outside can be just what we need, sometimes. I’m one of the adults who is going to filter what my parents taught me and sprinkle in a little of my own wisdom along the way.
In the loose words of the Cheshire Cat, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. In my own loose words, no matter what road got you where you are, it doesn’t mean it’s the road you have to stay on.
originally posted on: beavisgenius.blogspot.com
to contact the author: Kyle
I’ve created a new category called “Guest Posts”. If you’re interested in getting your words out, please message me via the Full-Time Daddy Facebook page and we can exchange contact information. This is something I’ve wanted to do for months, and now seems like a good time to start. This isn’t limited to dads. I think it’s important to hear from the moms, the steps, the grandparents and especially non-traditional families. This isn’t about race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. It’s about our experiences on life with children and doing the best goddamn job we can in raising them. Since the inception of FTD, I’ve received countless words of hope, love, encouragement, and gratitude. I truly believe that by sharing, even with only words, we can help others. –Jon Vaughn