Web Toolbar by Wibiya


Making It All Make Sense

Before this week is over my family and I will all be under the same roof once again after a long-feeling, but short in duration, summer spent apart.

  • My 14 year-old, high school freshman, J.V. football playing son, will be hidden from view behind the door of his room embracing his Xbox 360 Live fighting online with his friends and refusing to show his face accept to raid the refrigerator.

  • My daughter's daily activities will most like not be disrupted by her return home: watching a little bit of Noggin; coloring; drawing; counting; spelling; beginner's reading; demanding everything under the sun; and telling me what to do at every turn, despite the fact that I tell her she sounds rude and not like Daddy's Baby Girl (I'm not sure she gets it yet --- or cares).

  • My wife and I will begin a new journey and chapter in our nine-year saga together as we head into the final days of our second year of marriage; celebrate (hopefully) both our birthdays in September; move into a bigger, but still temporary dwelling that will serve us all a little better in comfort, if not price; and move forward, doing our best to work together versus whatever it was we were doing this summer and have been doing for as many months as I can remember (just keepin' it real, folks).

This summer was a painful one for me. It was also quiet and at times lonely. At one point or another and at times overlapping each other...

  • I didn't see my son for a month and a half.

  • I didn't see my daughter for nearly two months.

  • I didn't see my wife for three weeks.

When these incidents overlapped I found myself with a tremendous amount of time on my hands. With no job and a crumbling self esteem, I wasn't sure at first what to do. I almost felt paralyzed to move without the wife or some kid in tow. But alone with my thoughts I involuntarily began to deconstruct my life in an effort to make sense of it --- the life I lived when none of these other people comprised my life and the life I now live with them. My primary question was, how the hell did I end up as the head of a household? Am I doing enough? What am I not doing right? Why can't I do more? Are my kids happy? Is my wife happy? Am I happy?

After several days of solitude I discovered it is the answer to this last question that is the key to answering all the rest.

On this blog, I've made several mentions of being unemployed, I've even lamented about it. But I haven't talked about how much I love to sit down to crank out my posts from one day to the next (it's almost like a drug). I didn't mention the joy that overcame me when I took an introductory Adobe Dreamweaver class in July and discovered that as a result of blogging I've inadvertently taught myself HTML and CSS (and didn't really need to take the class). Or how the photos I've been posting lately come naturally to me. Or how an established artist pulled me aside to tell me I've missed my calling as a photographer and need to start taking classes yesterday. This summer and long since before then, I've focused on what isn't and overlooked what is.

My solitude was like a blank sheet of paper the size of a football field. I got to sit in the middle of it, look out across it, and retrace my steps while planting new ones. I vowed to do my best to relearn and embrace what it means to be me.

In July, I lost 10 pounds. In August, I traveled alone to Atlanta after having a fight with my wife that would've sent most men to their divorce lawyers or jail (just keeping it real), reconnected with old friends, both male and female, went to dinner (alone), attended an arts festival (alone), frequented a couple of bars, and visited a few schools (a scouting expedition for the kids), relied upon the kindness of strangers more than once as I was rained on repeatedly, attended a film fest, and in sum had a blast and managed to stay out of trouble the entire time I was there given what I left and what was waiting for me back home.

In August, I traveled to every corner of the five boroughs of New York, abandoning my distaste for burning gas and ungluing myself from my fear of going places alone if going alone meant doing the things I wanted to do versus sitting at home waiting for a friend to make time for me (which I did at first). I went to restaurants, bars, get-togethers, a play, cinema under the stars, street fairs, green markets and a couple of friends' author events. I eventually connected with friends who got on the same page with me and had some really great conversations.

In August (yesterday) I rented a bicycle in downtown Chicago and rode along the Lakeshore stopping only to snap photos and ultimately stopped cold by a city sponsored Triathlon route. I eventually abandoned the Lakesfront and rode through some beautiful downtown neighborhoods. And tonight, on the last day of August, I will board a train with my daughter for a 20-hour trip back to New York. I haven't ridden the train since 2001 and I decided I wanted the serenity and a glimpse of America's countryside on one of Amtrak's most scenic routes, accompanied by my daughter's wide-eyed enthusiasm. These are all things that I wanted to do and these were all things that I did, just like I used to when I was just a Man, when there was no Dad and no Husband. These were the things that added to the totality of me so that one fateful day in 2000, a woman would cross my path and make me into a Dad and a Husband.

In trying to make sense of life I've completely overlooked it's simplicity and probably made things more complex than they've needed to be. As far as work goes I've been so hell bent on seeking fulfillment (a bad thing when done in excess), somewhere it got lost in the translation that fulfillment comes from the richness of life provided by the fruit of my labor --- regardless of the labor. Meaning, if I wanted to, I could live like a king, but work for UPS. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with working for UPS. Believe me, the thought has crossed my mind more than a few times.

So like the birds of the air who live simply from point A to point B, why should I do any different? All I have to do is live each and every day to the fullest --- the good ones, the frustrating ones and the downright I-wish-I hadn't-even-got-up-ones. All I have to do is fight for the richest life for myself by simply getting up each and everyday (well maybe 6 out of 7) and giving my all to this life that has been given to me, pouring every ounce of myself into the moments I have with my children and the wife. It's like Reagonomics, a trickle down of my riches onto my family. If I'm happy and fulfilled with myself, then I will encourage/reprimand/build up/love/endow with life lessons/discipline my kids with prudence and sensitivity and a genuine heart. The same goes for when when I kiss/am honest with/am being a friend to my wife. That's all I have to do. And that's where the hardest challenge lies. Why? Because the only one who's been in the way of this, even when I've blamed others, always has been and always will be...me. Even when someone else is in my way it's up to me to get around them, or pray for the strength to do so. Think about it: the next time you talk about what you can't do or what someone is doing to you, listen to yourself. What word do you find yourself using more than any other? I'll bet you money it's "I".

The older I get the simpler life becomes. Not because life has gotten any simpler. It's actually gotten ridiculously complex, tragic and needlessly violent. But for me, with age, I'm finding my focus getting sharper. The distractions that have kept me trapped in a morass of complexity, especially the ones in my own head, are falling away with each passing day. In their absence, only the beauty and simplicity (even during the tough times) of life remains. It's up to me to keep it that way and I'm committed to doing so upon my return to a full house. The same goes for you and your life if any of this sounds familiar.

I hope you make it all make sense for you in your own special way.

See you in September.

Voting ends today!

Never Miss A Post

blog comments powered by Disqus