Change, Forgiveness, Kids, Love, Parenting, Relationships, Speak Life, The Future

Do I have what it takes?

A few years ago I read a book by John Eldredge entitled “Wild at Heart“. It deeply moved me in a way that I still can’t completely relay today. In fact, it was very instrumental in my life as a source of healing that has perpetuated into how I view parenting on a daily basis. Most of the book posits the question that men face most in their life: Do I have what it takes?

This deep-seeded question, in it’s initial interposition of self-reflection, takes me back to my childhood and some really painful experiences. Many of those experiences were interactions with my parents and turned out to be pivotal memories that I had played and replayed whenever I would make a decision. The truth was that I hadn’t dealt with the wounds of my past. It wasn’t always what my father or mother said or did, but it was how I interpreted them. My perception of those memories was just as important as the reality of them.

Knowing this and having my own children, I now reposition myself in my father’s place. I swore I would never make the same mistakes my parents did. It’s something that I have heard countless people say. Executing that mantra is more difficult because I share their DNA. Jumping into the scientific at this point isn’t useful, but I can say this: Unless I make a conscious and purposeful effort to change I cannot. Unless I realize the impact of my words and actions on my children each day I cannot loose myself from the wounds of past or the curse to repeat them.

I’m not going to be a perfect parent. God was the perfect parent that gave a perfect world and yet Adam and Eve strayed from innocence. So I try not to be too hard on myself. However, the burden of parenting demands a best effort. I’ve decided I have what it takes. I’ve dealt with the wounds of my past and I’ve forgiven myself and family for the intentional or unintentional hurt caused.

One last piece of advice for parents is to ask your children at pivotal times or after stressful moments in your relationship if you have wounded them. It’s really tough to ask and, if you dig deep and look full in the moment, you would find it is monumentally more difficult to listen and hear what they have to say. It can really hurt, but if it’s left unchecked they can take it with them wherever they go and whatever they do. Ask the question and take the answer to heart. Let them know they have what it takes to ride the waves of life and speak life in their sponge-like souls when it’s most difficult.

. . . Speak Life

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox in a scene from Back to the Future (Universal Studios).
Change, Economics, Parenting, Philosophy, Relationships, The Future

The Hand At The End of Change

As I listen to the fun-loving and free sounds of Louis Prima I can’t help but want to be in the room where he is entertaining. It makes me smile every time and it just seems like he is having fun. Truthfully, I’m jealous and it makes me wonder if I had lived in a different place and time if I would choose to live my life differently. That’s a tall order for any existentialist, but it gives me pause. I’ve tried to displace this thought with the familiar grass is greener on the other side counterargument, but logic tells me that the future would allow for a change that past cannot. Dale Carnegie said that:

“You and I are standing this very second at the meeting place of two eternities: the vast past that has endured forever, and the future that is plunging on to the last syllable of recorded time. We can’t possibly live in either of those eternities – no, not even for a split second. But, by trying to do so, we can wreck both our bodies and our minds. So let’s be content to live the only time we can possible live: from now until bedtime.”

So the immediate future is up for grabs as far as we can control it. Barring any outside force (an economist would propose holding all other variables constant), how do I change? In the movie Frozen, one of the supposed female trolls sings a line “Cuz’ people don’t really change”. Is that true as well? Is that why I find it so difficult to course correct; because it’s our actions that change and not who we are? I don’t think so. I’ve heard the question asked, are people inherently good or bad? I think they are two distinct individuals separated by the beholder. In short, they are the person they perceive and they are the person others perceive them to be. The person they perceive is based on their judgments; how they were raised, outside influence, and the choices made by or for them. Those outside have only their perceptions of the words and actions they witness themselves or through their circle of influence. Based on this, each different outsider has the opportunity to view them in hundreds of different ways. However, it comes back to the inside and outside beholder. If we get any more complicated, this will die the death of a thousand qualifications.

Although I’ve read no poll on this, my gut tells me that most of us would like to change something very hardwired in us. In truth, I feel 99% of us may want to do this, but only 10% of us might actually try and 5% of us might succeed. Again, it’s not scientific, but experience, history, the very past we fight tells us that we repeat. There’s a cost to everything. My cost may be taking a less lucrative job or losing sleep to spend more time with my wife and children. It might be dropping this blog so I can lose 25 pounds exercising in the time it takes me to write my posts.

Whatever it is, if I’m to be in the 5%, I have to live each day with a goal and purpose in mind. I would challenge anyone reading this to look and imagine the end of their life. What would you want said of you in both your accomplishments and character? Begin the day, the planning, the purposeful living with that end in mind and your decisions just might become clearer and by extending one purposeful hand to change you may be able to reach the end with the other.

Forgiveness, Love, Parenting, Relationships

Can I Love a Woman and Pizza?

When I’m excited about something, I’m all in. When sitting, my feet and toes develop a bouncing pattern that sends my knees oscillating into a fury of calorie burning, micro-leg expressions (not sure that’s a real thing) or you could just say they move up and down. When not sitting, I weave a consummate pattern of pacing that usually resembles a miniature Nascar racetrack. All of this motion, of course, is to warm a subconscious state of focus so unhindered that nothing short of a hard kick to the groin or shouting the word “money” could snap me out of it. I’ve heard others boast of their affluent child’s ability to tug on their pants incessantly for hours and beg for different sugared cereal, which should drain anyone of their will to live, but they are wrong. I have several children who irritate easily at certain pieces of cereal and a wife who will snore on command and they have, if anything, built up my tolerance to this often used home remedy for distraction.

At some point though, that excitement, that bouncing, the unwavering, only-distract-me-by-kicking-my-groin-or-shouting-money fixation and any other high dies down to the routine or we quit altogether. The honeymoon is over. Love it or leave it. In recent months I began to mull over the definition of love. Yes, you can love a woman and you can love a pizza. In fact, I think that it’s a killer combo and one of the least advertised paradoxes of life. However, I would be remiss not to say that my wife kisses better.

Millions of movies and books claiming to hold the long sought after secrets of love and the ever illusive “true love” would probably never agree with my definition. And my definition may not agree with anyone else. The fact is the word love is extremely confusing in America. I can’t speak for other countries, because I don’t share their cultures or norms.

Out of frustration I decided to up my prowess and find a way to describe love as it should be. Not understand how it’s used now, because frankly, I don’t think anyone has a clue. I wanted to find a new or old way to delineate pizza, woman, sex, and plutonic forms of love. So I did what any logical, degree holding intellectual would do and I did a search on wikipedia.

What I found was very interesting. The Greeks had at least four different words for what most American’s call love. You might think that this is even more confusing, but after some thought, I would argue that it brings more clarity.

First up is philia. Philia is “brotherly” in it’s application. The prefix of the word Philadelphia gives it the original city of brotherly love. It’s plutonic and refers to the friendship between friends, sisters, and brothers.

Second is eros and it’s that sexual and passionate look at relationships. The word erotic is closely tied to eros and can simply be related our physical attraction to someone.

Next up is storge. Storge is what I would have towards my children. I feel affectionate and protective over them. There have been various offshoots of it’s defintion, but it’s original intent was the love shown towards families or familial love.

Last and most unpopular today is agape love. Agape love is something fantasized about on TV, but seldom lived out. It’s truly unconditional. That means that nothing come between the relationships that hold it sacred. It carries a sense of duty and commitment that doesn’t waver on feeling, sexuality, family breakups or unsteady friendships. It’s not emotional. I would have to say in my own definition of love that I have fallen in and exited out of love with my wife several times. However, it was this agape love that held us together. We went through some tough stuff, but our sense of duty and commitment didn’t change. It’s truly special.

So where’s my pizza? It turns out that loving pizza doesn’t fit the four love types described here. I guess I don’t love pizza. I really like pizza and I’m excited about it. That’s it. Whatever your definition for the word love, you might just take a lesson from the Greeks and check your love against the four.

Parenting, Technical History, The Future

Pilot Post

Like any small beginning, a first step is required. In this case, it’s a first post. It’s unnerving that there are millions blogging or twittering and attempting to fill an internet silence that probably doesn’t exist. There is a chance that the internet, a largely untapped and infinitely undulating web, may yet produce some unfound history; some undiscovered truth bundled in the #Compuserve or #Prodigy limelight of the 1990’s. Or perhaps there is that email that was thwarted by the screamin’ fast 28.8 kbps modem baud rate of that hot new Hewlett Packard i486 DX2 that would have guaranteed true love between two unsuspecting and similar aged bulletin board system junky’s. It never left that outbox because you forgot to push the turbo button that could have tipped it just over that 16 MB of RAM. It’s also possible you didn’t double space your hard drive. It’s also possible that as the internet ages it will hold some mystery…maybe.

More than likely though we’ll forget. So what’s my point? I don’t think my blog voice is any louder than the quality of the writing, dedication to it’s evangelism, and the marketing of it’s URL. Lots of us want to give and most of us want to be heard. Dale Carnegie once said to “[r]emember that the man you are talking to is a hundred times more interested in himself and his wants and his problems than he is in you and your problems…His toothache matters more to him than a famine in China that kills a million people. A boil on his neck interests him more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that the next time you start a conversation”. I try to remember this whenever I am talking, writing, or speaking out of turn. I’m still horrible at it and a little too optimistic on that Pulitzer prize.

In short, I’m realistic. I’m hoping this blog will be a sounding board for the genuine part of me. My concern with privacy and the social phenomena of sharing my next belly lint color on Facebook is short lived. I believe that a remnant of people may just get bored with the mundane and affluent, temporary nature of social media and in search of the minimalist or altruist inside, will gravitate towards the unfamiliar and quieted voice. There’s so much white noise that I fear people will neglect the quiet that allows them to hear that signal. A signal only strengthened by introspect.

At a minimum, my kids just might read this some day. That’s enough for me.