Friday, November 11, 2011

What is Important? Really.

It’s been awhile since I last slowed down to make it simple. Perhaps I should do it more often. I don’t know. Time moves pretty quickly when you have things to do.
I guess now is the time to get simple again. With the holidays and all, it is appropriate to remember what is important in life. For me it isn’t fame or fortune; I seem to have enough of both somehow. I didn’t chase it, it came by working hard at something I love to do and humbly, do well. I teach. No, what is important to me is living up to a standard of being a good man; a good father. I have an example to go by. My dad.
He wasn’t perfect and didn’t live life on a pedestal. In fact he had his flaws; private and conflicted as they were, they were his to bear. I give him that. He earned them. After growing up in the Deep South and fighting his way to military honors oceans away, his demons imposed their will in ways only those in the trenches beside him would understand. He saw death and horror reserved for only the most courageous of his generation.
The example he set for me was life. Everyday. Get up, get after it and let your handshake be your guide. Do right by others even in the face of challenges and adversity that would easily grant you a pass. And, so I have. At least I have tried– though it doesn’t always seem that way. We all have times we’d appreciate a “do-over.”
What is important? To who? Well, for each of us we’ll find significance in different ways and different things. It is a personal thing really. A matter of perception and a dose of reality based on an individual set of experiences. Yours and mine will be different given the prisms of life we absorb along the way. That’s ok.
Again, what’s important? Be a good dad.
I find being a good dad easy, in a hard way. I do it alone. Sure my boys have a mom and by all counts she is a good mom. But she is not my wife. Anymore. Things got complicated and I went back to simple. Not the best scenario but it works. It has to. And that too is ok. I don’t have to like it. I have to live it. I get to be the dad I want to be even if it is cluttered with calendars highlighted with days of joy, days of grief and days of every other weekend. The boys know the drill and to their credit have found their “normal.”
The time I spend together with my boys is in some ways better, richer, deeper than what some of their friends get “living the dream” in a more traditional way.
I’m focused.
I am not distracted by the requirements of adult conversations about mortgages, work schedules and “what color should we paint the living room this time?” Instead, I pay the bills, adjust my schedule, don’t buy paintbrushes and laugh like crazy with two kids who seem to like their old man. We have a blast. Our household rules of engagement aren’t hampered by the symmetry of a woman’s touch and a color swatch. We pick up after ourselves and leave the toilet seats up.
We eat pretty good too.
In time things will change. They will grow up and I am helping them to grow out as well. They’ll have to make it on their own someday. They must learn to be independent in life if they want to be truly successful. I won’t be here forever even if I’d like to be here for a long time. The measure of my success as a dad will be the quality of men my boys become. So far, so good.
That, my friends, is important. Now and forever. Simple.

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