Acceptance AKA “What If…”

29 09 2016

whatif

There is a school of thought or belief that the individual journey we are on is exactly the one we are supposed to be on.

It is phrased in many different ways. Perhaps you have heard things such as “it was meant to be” or “it happened for a reason”. I don’t personally subscribe to either of these but do believe, as difficult as it may seem, wherever I find myself (physically and metaphorically) is really where I am supposed to be at that moment. It took me many, many, many difficult moments, however, to finally get here.

To me, I have spent more time than I care to admit thinking about life’s more challenging moments in terms of “why is this happening?” and “what is the lesson I am to take away from it?” However, it hit me today that I have never asked myself why certain things are not happening, as well.

I am incredibly grateful for the thousands of things that don’t happen to me and people I care about every day – illness, grief, pain, loss – particularly when these very things afflict so many innocent people all the time.

But what about all the good things that are not happening and seem to be so far out of reach and why stew on this today? Well, I am traveling for a few days and always feel doubly melancholy when I’m away from my kids and not within a 5 mile radius. Luckily, I’m on the same time zone, so it could be worse. With each time zone, it gets exponentially worse, in fact.

This made me realize that so many of the “dreams” that I have for myself – which all revolve around creative pursuits – would be pretty difficult to activate fully without a significant amount of travel, which would invariably take me away from my children a lot more and given the fact that homes schooling isn’t an option, probably for the best. So, what if, and I hesitate to even suggest this at the risk of sounding too “airy fairy”, but what if the universe was holding back knowing that it’s simply not the right time for this?

What if we had the knowledge that what we are going through and experiencing, both good and bad, is all purposeful because, believe it or not, this is the exact right time to experience it – as long as we did not miss the opportunity to take from it the lesson of its intent to move us forward on our journey? Similarly, what if we also knew that those things we long for so achingly may not present themselves just yet because it is simply not the right time? What if we had patience and faith and ignored all those self-help books that give us 10 steps to achieving all our goals in the next year?

I’m going to have to keep thinking about this one but I think there’s something there. Glorious, painful and mysterious all at once – just like life.

Until next time,

Marc





The Unbearable Lightness (and occasional darkness) of Being (a Father)

28 08 2015

Amen.

Amen.

I asked my kids to help me clean up their rooms recently; really clean-up – not the “stuff all your crap in a drawer and use your butt to try and close it until the crappy cardboard that is called a drawer bottom falls out” clean up. It’s because we have to get our house ready to sell.

When our family of 1 became a family of 1 divided by 2 parents last Summer, I vowed to keep the house for the kids. They feel comfortable here and safe. It is where their friends come over. It’s where they are secure. It was the one constant that I felt I could control during the upheaval that is divorce.

After over a year, I had to make the difficult decision to sell the house – both for financial reasons and more importantly, for emotional reasons. It is important for me to have a place that isn’t like living inside a diorama of my marriage on a 24/7 basis.

Yesterday, as I checked in how my daughter’s progress was coming along, I saw she had her iPhone horizontally placed between her hands as she pivoted in a circle from the middle of the room.

“What are you doing?”, I asked.

“Oh – I’m filming my room because I don’t want to forget what it looked like.”, she responded rather innocently.

I had a lump in my throat for the rest of the night and a larger one in my stomach. I had second, third, and fourth thoughts…and a glass of wine to match each.

This is difficult. I love my kids more than anything. Truly. I think sometimes people don’t understand how much you love someone until a 12 year old innocently states a fact that you know has more meaning than she even realizes.

I ran into an acquaintance recently, about to become an empty nester as her last kid goes off to college. I tried to find the positive by reflecting how nice it will be to get back to her own time, that sort of thing. She replied, “no, I actually like my kids.” Wow – message received. If you like your kids – good for you. I like mine, too, sometimes, but that’s not really the point.

I love my kids. I don’t particularly like them all the time. And as the teenage years keep coming, less and less. I am pretty sure they feel the same about me.

The unbearable part of all of this is the love part. I could deal with the like. I like hanging with my kids, too, but the prospect of moving doesn’t tug at my gut in that way. But it does when I check on them at night sleeping or I see them carelessly walking down the stairs without looking. It’s hard to not feel as if I am causing yet another disruption. This is where the love part stings. 

It’s difficult being a parent of any ilk – male, female, married, divorced, whatever – if, if you are willing to love your kids even when you don’t like them. That’s when it gets really hard because it’s no longer a contest to befriend them. It’s a mirror held in your face every second that keeps you honest. And that – that is something that helps you realize that there will be new films to be taken in a new house, too, but it won’t make things necessarily any easier.

Until next time,

Marc





The In-between

18 05 2015

11306-i-know-i-was-born-and-i-know-that-i-ll-die-the-in-between-is-mine_large

I think I have become too reliant on the GPS. It’s probably typical to look for the most direct route from point A to point B and that is certainly a benefit. However, visualizing that thick blue line on the screen gives me a false sense that it is really that easy: follow the map, a turn here, a turn there and then before you know it – I will have arrived!

The truth is that sometimes Siri (or whatever cosmic force is in charge) decides not to allow the GPS to work or more likely, there is some unforeseen detour that needs to be taken. This is unexpected but the unexpected should always be expected.

For all intents and purposes, I am in the midst of raising two teenagers (a 14 year-old and a 12 year-old). I have my good days and my bad days. After a string of successful weekends, excursions, conversations, the gods let me know to not get too cocky and I had a bad parenting moment this weekend with my oldest. The dialogue was straight out of a bad after school special, right down to the “I learned it from you dad. You!”. (No, it wasn’t drugs…though after the argument, it seemed like a reasonable alternative.)

My approach to parenting teens is that this is very much a between stage for them and I have to remind myself constantly to cut them some slack. They could go from needing a parent to proclaiming complete independence in about the time it takes a 14 year old to wolf down a cheese stick after school. I like the idea of the “in between” for budding adolescence because it is a platform that I can grasp and even articulate to my kids. Basically, “look guys, you’re figuring stuff out. It sort of sucks sometimes but it can be super exciting and there’s going to be lots of things happening now that will inform who you want to be – good and bad. Just make decent choices because some choices can last forever and you don’t want to jeopardize what is looking to be a pretty amazing future.” Anyway, it goes something like that.

For me, it’s been a different story. As much as I have embraced meditation, writing, authenticity and self-forgiveness, it is hard for me to not benchmark myself against where I “think I should be”. It’s difficult to not look at my internal GPS and ask “how did I end up here?” and try to blame it on Siri. I never really expected the unexpected. I don’t mean that I should have expected my marriage to end but I also should not have necessarily expected a smooth journey from point A to point B.

In a way, I am no different that the teenagers living in my house – being exposed to experiences I hadn’t been involved with before and figuring it out. I am figuring out that the “in-between” phase is not age restricted, nor is it restricted to one experience. There are “In-between” phases in everything and learning to accept this can be a meaningful (and even fun) way to get through. In fact, as you may have heard, the journey is often more gratifying than the destination.

A good friend of mine said I am on a bridge right now and just transitioning from the past to the future. Isn’t that always the case? We are all in-between, regardless of what we may think.

Until next time,

Marc








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