My father and I have by no means seen things eye to eye throughout the years. One could even go as far as to say we had a rocky start, that lasted half a lifetime. That second half of a lifetime is however better than many people live to see. My father and I are of the same threads yet woven into different cloths. For that reason, we shared distance for many years. The beauty of that, as with any epic tale is that somehow we closed the space between us, we reached common ground, and became friends. We overcame.
My father, unlike many people older than us who are set in their ways, proved to be adept at psychological evolution. He has continued to grow and change through his many years. That alone is unusual, and praise worthy. I too, eventually began the process of maturation, albeit later than most. I then came to see that I too, needed to change my perspective on our relationship. We have been able to meet in the middle. We’ve come to love and appreciate one another deeply and fully.
It took a long time for me to take a hammer to the pedestal I had placed him on, to allow him to be human. Viewing our relationship from this equalized perspective did wonders. My father has become my mentor, my advisor, my confidant…my rock. When times are difficult he is there to listen, support, and offer sage advice. When times are good he is there to celebrate with me.
Not all sons have challenging beginnings with their parents. Sadly, many sons never find their way to reconciliation and fulfilling relationships with those who brought them into this world. I consider myself lucky to have journeyed this lifetime with the man I call Pops. The man who carried the torch of principal and honor. The man who showed me what it means to be a man. The man I love, and whom I am proud and grateful to know as my father.
Long hair in a half up pony. 17º chill in the air. A turn of the key locks the black ’96 Land Cruiser, a trusted companion. Boots crunching in the snow I walk my Flexible Flyer runner sled, a gift on my 5th birthday, maybe the greatest I’ve ever received across the park. It’s been dark for over an hour and the crowd that played on the hill while I worked through the day is thinning. They’ve done the good deed of packing the snow to make for fast runnings.
A small group of college-ish types take turns pushing each other down the hill in a white plastic laundry basket. Making the best of what they have to celebrate this frosty winter gift. This night they have companionship, camaraderie, and a memory that will replay each time the have to wash their clothes. Nice! Parents stand at the top of the hill as their children ride plastic toboggans, saucers, sheets of cardboard, etc.. “One more son, my toes are frozen. Time to go.”
As I walk by I sense accessing eyes. A few years ago I came to this same place with my boys. Now they are grown and off on their own adventures. My former snow play partners have girlfriends and/or social engagements, and so I revel in this winter sport opportunity alone.
I find my way to the highest point on the hill and set the sled to run. If I aim just so I can hit a bridge that offers safe passage across the creek at the bottom of the slope. If I miss it’s a three foot drop over a limestone ledge into a partially frozen stream riddled with sharp rocks. Holding my old friend by the left handle and the right rail I push off in a sprint and dive on.
In honor of our first light snowfall last week, this post comes in the form of an audio track, an instrumental entitled “First Snow.”
I was walking amongst the leafless maples and oaks traversing a rolling ridge as this first snow of the season fell around me.With the help of a steady wind, snowflakes clung first in small then in great numbers to the barren trunks and branches across the woods.These white giants rose from a shimmering landscape as the snow began to blanket the ground, brightening the forest as I made my way.
In a world full of complexity I find this simple meteorological phenomenon, snow, to be a gift of pure magic.It never fails to remind me of the boundlessness of “the bigger picture.”
So this little piece of wintertime (as I hear it anyway) is my gift to all this holiday season.
Many winters I have seen. Each brings a closing and hints at latent possibilities. Opportunities that come in the form of dreams on long winter nights. The passing of time offers a continuous deepening of acquaintance with the ever more familiar way of things. Things change, they repeat, they evolve, and yet somehow seem the same. Looking deeper, we find that that sameness may offer new insight into the workings of old patterns.
Many winters I have seen, each is made different by having survived the last. Though they’ve varied in subtle ways, they are all winter. A time of reflection. Each with something to offer, to teach, to give. A time of dormancy and death, an opportunity for rebirth. In the words of Robert Frost, “I have miles to go before I sleep.” May the opportunity to dream of new beginnings and rebirth, change of heart, and change of mind mark our journeys until that cold December when we find we have seen too many winters.
These days Autumn may show it’s flush late, but it will still arrive. Daunting isolation looms over us casting its deep shadow, but all waves eventually crest and release to the shore. Society may seem irrevocably divided, but given time most wounds heal. Hope may seem fleeting, yet according to legend, it springs eternal.
These days are rife with disquiet. Hence, feeling “not ok” is ok. That said, history shows us that all the darkest moments of mankind set the stage for the uncommon brightness revealed in the eventuality of the new day. It is through struggle that we find purpose, meaning, and often personal rebirth. A renewed energy to live, love, give and receive.
May your mind make time to see the world of color this Autumn brings. May your heart be full of acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness. May your wellspring of hope overflow in response to the challenges we all face together in these days.
The Weight of the World. Shoulder it. Drop it. Either way, the world continues, likely in a form very near to that in which it appeared prior to the decision.
The pressure of carrying the weight of the world may well crush one’s spirit. The guilt born of sloughing it can be emotionally corosive as well. The understanding that no one is born capable of managing such a burden is omitted from the Standard Operating Manual for Human Consciousness. Struggle, blame, shame, regret, recrimination all take center stage when someone decides there is “hell to pay!” Of course, there are also those who care nothing for the world or the others in it, but that topic is for another time.
So precious this opportunity to exist. And yet preciousness is, um, well, hmm, born of personal perspective. Once we’ve had the good fortune of life we will all in turn have the good fortune of passing beyond this time of living, to rest. How much will acute concerns about the pressing issues of the day matter in that eternal light?