August 28th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“Nothing moves you so much as beauty and pain.”
I wish I could remember who said this. It’s a great quote; it’ll have to go anonymous for now.
I’ve stated my belief that early on we all take a look inward. I don’t understand the mechanics of what I’ve been calling a look inward. No, I haven’t exactly witnessed it. So, yes, I admit that my case is largely circumstantial. What I have seen in young children is a pretty sophisticated level of what we call a conscience. I’ve seen shame. Hiding.
With this look inward, we all see we’re human. We see limitations – a wanting. Being human, we do not always do what we know to be right. Being human, we cannot physically do all we want or need. At our best, we’re left with “I’m doing the best I can. I’m not perfect.” In an uncertain world, a broken world full of pain, that’s just not good enough. Our limitations swing the door wide open to fear.
Pay close attention, and you’ll see your kid begin to interact with this fear. Some dumb kid will say something to your daughter. The ridiculous judgment is embarrassing; it’s painful – never mind that it’s not true. She’ll figure without much conscious deliberation that she never wants to experience the sting of another’s judgment. The pain plants the fear in the fertile soil of her human heart, and move her toward one of two well worn paths: “Run and Hide Avenue” and “Work, Work, Work Blvd”.
On “Run and Hide Avenue”, there are lots of darting eyes. We walk about safely, quietly. People pleasers are always saying the right thing. On “Work, Work, Work Blvd” everyone is busily heading somewhere. You see, we’ve found a strength, and we intend to work it to greatness. By greatness, we’ll rise above. We either hide from pain or we rise above it. They’re both dead end roads. At best the most successful only defer the inevitable. At the end of the road, when we discover it has not led us away from fear we’re left with hatred, anger, and hopelessness.
This is the fear you chase out with love. You say to her, “I love you. Not because you’re beautiful. You are that, but that’s not why I love you. I love you, not because you’re smart. You are that, but that’s not why I love you. I love you, not because you’re funny, or because you’re really good soccer player. No, I love you because you are my daughter. I love you because of who you are. And I will never stop loving you.”
You chase fear with this love. She won’t believe you at first. But don’t ever stop telling her, showing her. Even as she heads toward those other paths. Follow her onto them. Hold her hand and keep telling her. Keep telling her until she believes you, and you see the fear wash away.
August 27th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Where did I hear this? I think I heard it on Oprah. Yeah, I’ve caught an episode or two of Oprah. I’m not proud of it. It was a long time ago. Geez. Okay, I’m sorry, alright!
Anyway, I heard something along these lines, “You have to take care of yourself first before you take care of someone else.” I also heard that the key to any meaningful relationship is compromise. You know, “Give and take”, “Meet me halfway”, “You scratch my back …” Wrong!
First of all, you don’t want to tell somebody like me that I need to think about myself first. Bad idea. Like I was telling a friend recently, I’m a prolific thinker of self. In fact, we’re all world class thinkers of self. If you put me on a golf course with Tiger Woods, it would be ridiculous; I feel silly even writing it. Put me in a competition with him in thinking of self, I’d like to think I’d lose, but … hmm … I don’t know. It’d be close. In that competition, we’d be walking down the eighteenth; I’d be on the leaderboard. Sadly, in the human race, there might be a gap between the neurotically narcissistic and Mother Theresa, but it’s slight – definitely contestable.
Secondly, that whole compromise thing might work at the office or in foreign affairs, but not with your wife. You’re not supposed to trust people implicitly. The very nature of marriage demands implicit trust.
To become one, you have to run at her with crazed self-abandonment. You can’t be thinking about yourself. You definitely can’t be keeping score. I’m not suggesting you be spineless. Not suggesting you give her everything and anything she wants. That’s not love. And yeah, you’ll probably get hurt. You might end up putting more in the pot. Is that so bad?
The point of marriage isn’t a relationship that works. A relationship that works is nice, but for marriage it’s not ambitious enough. Think about it. In the end, do you want your hopes to hit the ceiling at “Well, it worked.” The point is oneness. Don’t let Oprah tell you any different.
August 24th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Making a Mockery
Ladies and Gentlemen, draft day is upon us. Which gets me thinking back to a memorable draft experience. I’d like to forget it, but the horror of it won’t let me be. An evening in early September. 2008. I sat with the ESPN Live Draft launched – the butterflies fluttering. The first round got under way just as the room began to dim with the setting sun. Right out of the gate, there was a stumble. Larry Fitzgerald went number one overall. That swerve shook up the whole virtual draft room. All of a sudden Adrian Peterson is available at #2 and everyone else gets pushed back. Sitting there with the eighth overall pick, suddenly a choice I thought I would not have looks me square in the eye. “Chris Johnson or LaDainian Tomlinson? Whatya gonna do, pilgrim?” “Uh, um, … okay, wait … let me see?” The first few picks go off in rapid succession – bam, bam, bam. No brainers. “Wait! Hold up a minute! Slow down! Okay, let’s see here. LT is consistent. Going to give me 12 to 15 every week. Chris Johnson is an incredible talent, but unpredictable. Multiple games in single digits his rookie season. But man, is he fast! And then there’s the vulture, Lendale. Oh, man!” And then it was me on the clock, and it was speedlining. My two kids looked at me, “Dad, what you gonna do? Is that sweat?” The clock went red and started the beeping at me. My brain went numb; I clicked LaDainian. Instantly, I felt sick.
We all know what happened next. LT turned his ankle in game one and showed his age the rest of the way. It was the beginning of the end. The next season he was no longer a Charger. The Rastaman in Tennessee went on to scare Eric Dickerson in posting Fantasy MVP numbers. The dude who drafted him right after me at #9 won our championship.
Do not make a mockery of your draft. This week, take a few minutes to do a couple mock drafts. In light of the amount of time you’ll spend during the regular season, the couple hours spent pre-season in preparation will be well worth your time.
When I do a mock draft, I am trying to to do three things:
1. Practice thinking on my feet. You have to be flexible. A bit of practice shifting with the ebbs and flows of a mock draft goes a long way in your ability to adapt on the real day.
2. Identify a basic strategy. For example, you may conclude after a mock draft, “If I wait ’til the 6th round for a QB, I’m done.”
3. Finally, I identify some key players who will make me “happy” or “sad”. Sounds ridiculous but for me, it’s huge. Last season when I did a mock draft to see where Matthew Stafford would go, I looked at my roster without “Stafford” and it made me sad. I jumped up to take him in the sixth. Looking at him after our real draft sitting there in my QB slot. I was happy.
Good luck everybody.
August 20th, 2012 § 2 Comments
If marriage isn’t a place you go to get all your dreams fulfilled, if the point isn’t to protract the thrills of infatuation, then what’s the point? It can’t be an institution evolved from our drive to procreate. If procreation is the goal, there’s got to be a more efficient way, no? Before I got married someone told me, “The goal of marriage is to become one with another. Oneness.” That’s the goal? That’s funny.
Fourteen years in, I can’t think of two beings more different than me and my wife. My wife likes organization and structure. She’s one of those who will write an item on a list so that she can cross it off. I’m uncomfortable planning a week out in advance. My wife likes touch; not too many things in life is as good as a good massage. Me? I can’t think of anything worse than a stranger grabbing and squeezing me. My wife cries watching commercials. I can count the number of times I’ve cried in my adult life. Usually, somebody has to die. I can go on, but you get the point.
I don’t think we’re the exception either. In general, men and women couldn’t be more different. The way we think, our response to problems, our interests. Everything from communication to sex, we approach things from very different places. I’ve even heard that our brains are different – something about testosterone severing synaptic connections in the corpus callossum in the early development of the male brain. Let’s face it, we’re different.
Two becoming one is a mathematical impossibility. A conundrum. Two beings this different becoming one? That’s just plain funny. And precisely why I believe it’s true. Like I said, love is not what I fancied it was. Neither is life. Why should marriage be any different? The goal of marriage is oneness. Yes. A mystery – a beautiful mystery.
August 17th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The older I get, the things about which I am certain become fewer and fewer. There used to be so much “black and white” – clear, bold, behind hard lines with a sliver of gray between them. Now, the lines are ruptured – the gray overflowing. I don’t relish it. “Black and white” is simpler, clearer. It’s a easier world to live in. And besides, I like being right; I like knowing. I don’t like uncertainty – the disquieting affects of the fog. Yet, I get the sense that I’m in a better place. So much of life happens in the gray. I can stand on a box and pontificate about how life ought to be, but I’d rather live. More importantly, I want my kids to live. And if it means, I need to wade through the gray to help them identify a few markers, well then “Small price to pay.” Don’t you think? So, come on. Let us wade through the gray together.
Let’s start with those mushrooms … I mean fear. I think a good place to start with fear is to look at the self. In other posts I’ve written my belief that very early in a person’s life, there is a look inward (My guess is that it begins about the time a child becomes aware of the shame of nakedness). The soul is brutally honest with what it sees. And although we do not have the cognitive sophistication to clearly interpret and articulate what we see, I think every person arrives in his or her own way to the same assessment: There is a wanting. A lack. Weakness. Limited. Broken.
By these words I’m not suggesting everyone sees themselves as some terrible mistake. I think it begins with the natural limitations we all have. We cannot see into the future. We hunger and thirst. We need sleep. We die. A child is more acutely aware of this because they are dependent.
An honest look gives rise to fear. It is at this place that this very basic fear gets fueled by lies, and spins into some toxic stuff. The environment and our fragile self make us acutely vulnerable to this bad fear – dread, loathing. It is at this very same place that the basic fear can also be seasoned with truth. In an environment of love and trust, a parent can collect the honest pieces gathered by a child and erect a coherent picture. “You are a person. Frail and imperfect. And I love you. Because I do, I need to teach you that you are not the center of the universe. Forget ruling the world, as great as you are, you don’t even rule this house.”
Even fear is not a matter “black and white”. It’s easier to say it’s all bad, and try to rid ourselves of it. The trouble is I don’t think that’s true. In the gray there is some good, healthy fear – a fear based on truth. We need to find it and guide our children to it.
August 8th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The statement was so striking. The context? Not so much. I can’t remember where we were or even if I heard him say it. As my Father was formulating his parenting philosophy, he reckoned that he had to make a choice. As a father he could either be feared or loved, not both. Believing his two boys were in greater need of discipline than warm fuzzies, he chose to be feared. As far as I know, it was a conscious choice. And as one of two subjects upon whom this parenting philosophy was tried, I’d like the record to show, he did fine job adhering to his philosophy. He was feared alright. If the idea was to make me feel uneasy around him so as I don’t act the fool, then mission accomplished.
The execution was flawless. Where I think he got it wrong was in the formulating. The philosophy was and remains whack. I contend that fear and love are not always mutually exclusive; a choice does not have to be made. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, … yeah, you, back there … you might be saying, “Wait a minute. Didn’t you write that fear is the enemy of love?” (Group Hug 4/30/2012) Yes I did. In almost every case, it is.
It’d be like if all mushrooms were poisonous except one. I’m making this up … indulge me a minute. So, let’s say only one variety is not poisonous. Why bother then with the one? What if that one was so good, and good for you? It prolonged your life – guaranteed. Magic mushrooms! (Alright, alright, that shroom joke funny. Haha) It’d be worth figuring out how to distinguish that one from the poisonous ones, that magic mushroom. But you’d have to be careful ’cause, like I said the rest are poisonous.
I think it’s the same with fear. All fear is toxic, save one. That one is tied in with love. It’s like awe, like admiration and respect. Instead of running and hiding, this fear draws you in. I might go as far as to say that love is incomplete without this one type of fear.
My Dad got it wrong. You don’t have to choose between love and fear. In fact, I say you mustn’t.
August 6th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I peed next to Hugh Hefner. It was a few years ago. I walked up to the only open urinal at an LAX men’s room, and assumed the awkward lean. Whilst keeping the appropriate eye-level visual field, I caught in my periphery the diminutive figure to my right. A feeble old man slouched over some focused work. “That sure looks like Hugh Hefner,” I told myself. Double take. “That’s definitely Hugh Hefner.”
The Playboy himself. He was gray and disheveled. The brash purveyor of men’s fantasies in his clichéd silk robe, the pipe and slippers? Well, he was nowhere to be found. The dark, slicked hair was gone. Gone too was the “Can you believe how good I have it?” smirk. The old man was ashen, grim. And since he was there when I pulled up, and still there when I backed out, it appeared the plumbing had gone the way of everything else. The man who had not denied himself a thing his eyes desired, peered down at his limp spigot thinking, “What I’d give to take a good leak?”
Have you ever stood next to greatness? I have. But it wasn’t that day in that LAX men’s room peeing with Hugh.