This is love, yo (a Poem for my kids – but not yet)

18 07 2017

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I recently posted this to twitter and reposting it in an easier-to-read format.

I wrote this about being a dad to two teenagers. Maybe you’ll recognize something familiar.

This is love, yo

Me on the chair

Reading a book

With you at the water’s edge

It’s ok

Pretend

I am a stranger

Yes, you may be too old for this

Me, too

But this is how it has to be for now

One and three quarters eyes on the page

A quarter on the base of your feet

The only thing I can see in the bottom periphery

As I try to maintain attention

On the biography I am reading

Because this is love, yo

And certain to the touch

Is the odd teenage reaction

Of bending your neck so I may receive the back of your head

Sweaty, matted hair

As a surrogate hug to say good night

I will continue to comment

“Is that all I get?
Because this is love, yo

Encapsulated by a love that is beyond romance

As if it existed before you were born

Before I was born

When the universe was born

Streaming through our bloodstreams

Like quarks and stardust

Crossing paths again

For the first time

In 7 billion years

Because this is love, yo

That maybe only a parent can understand

Though understanding is a falsehood

Does an addict understand the pull of the drug?

Does a mother goose understand the urge to attack an innocent runner

Passing by knowing that

Time is finite?

This is love, yo

And when I pull up that phone for a photo

For the thousandth time

I know the rolling eyes

And guttural objections

Are only a way of expressing what is a disturbance in your day

And painstakingly

Here you are

Because I had to only endure a slight glance at a camera with a flash

That my mom never adjusted as I grew taller

For a handful of photos that all ended at my bottom lip

And now I can’t help but chronicle every glimpse in passing

Though a smile from you in just one of them

May cut down on my need

This is love, yo

And when the trying turns to hope

And the talking turns to prayer

And the seeing turns to memory

All we have is what we had

And all we had is what we were

To each other

Me to you

You to me

Us to each other

Because this is love, yo

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Love.

30 06 2017

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If kindness beholds itself to random acts completed in its honor then love is the scraping and molding of deliberation – no randomness here.

Planning.

Struggling.

Acting.

Today, I witnessed a scene that I have seen numerous time as it occurs on my street – a gentleman walking to a special transport for the county to help a loved one walk down the steps of the bus.

For him, this is probably a daily occurrence but he ..is …there – every day – the same time.

Who is the woman walking down – clearly older but with the smile of a 10 year old – innocent, kind, warm and slightly greying hair in a bob and held back by two barrettes? Is she his daughter? A relative? A friend?

Love is deliberate.

Being there.

Holding on to the best of another person despite what your hopes might have been.

Doing the hard work.

Being ok with how things are and not how things “should” be.

This takes thought, fortitude and a commitment to another person based on where they are and not where you need them to be to maintain certain optics for your own sake.

Love is cruel and ugly and requires things of us we may never have imagined and damn if that isn’t beautiful.

Kindness is easy.

Maybe it costs $2.35 on the Turnpike to pay for the car behind me or someone’s coffee at Starbucks. That’s nothing.

But love is grueling …and so necessary.

Because there is no living without those moments. The ones that have you waiting for the silence to befall so you can talk yourself into another day with the hopes it gets easier.

And it will.

Love is not Hugh Grant in “Love Actually”.

Actually, that was romance and some pretty good lighting.

Love is snot and sweat and changing diapers – and not always on a baby – and being there to help her down the stairs of the bus though your dream at one time was to play with the grandkids she gave you.

That’s love, but you better be ready.

Until next time,

Marc





Nov 9 2016- We Must Choose Love

9 11 2016

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I don’t want this to sound all melodramatic but I had a terrible night’s sleep. I woke up with a profound sense of loss and despair.

I am committed to meditating in the morning before my day gets started whenever I can and did so again this morning. It was hard. As many times as I tried to return to my breath and the present moment, my mind had other plans.

Meditation practice teaches us to acknowledge what we are feeling by simply naming it without judgment. I was sad. Really sad – to a point that seemed disproportionate to what I was sad about. After all, we still live in a democracy. We still live in a nation of freedom and great opportunity.

But I am sad for my children, my nation and my world because I think this election has revealed a deeper truth in which in the midst of unrest, unease and, in many cases, pure hate, it is easier and more acceptable to choose fear over hope.

And so I continued to meditate and come back to the breath – over and over again. Man, this was the worst meditation session ever. Until it came to me – this is not for us to suffer with. This is not for us to attach to our own fears, our own unease or our own hatred.

We must choose love.

Our nation is merely a reflection of the nation within ourselves for each of us has the hope and the fear, the love and the hate, the joy and the sorrow all woven together.

We must choose love.

There is no other option. We cannot look to others, leaders or otherwise, to choose for us.

We must choose love.

But we have to dig in – and dig deep.

We have to show up – fully present and more than we have ever done before.

We have to be uncomfortable and extend ourselves beyond our own borders of insecurity.

We have to make our beds, clean our dishes, groom our lawns and mend our own hearts in the process.

We have to forget about our homes, our 401Ks, our failed relationships, our jobs and our regrets.

Most of us will not be here within a mere century – a simple blink in time. What we leave can only be left out of love otherwise we won’t have anything of real value that anyone will want.

There is no other option.

We must choose love and we have to do it starting now.

 





Riding in Cars with Budding Adults

4 10 2016

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My 8th grade daughter was talking with me tonight in the car. It seems like the car rides are when the best conversations with my kids happen. That’s part of the reason I never really mind schlepping them from one place to another (though that’s my secret).

She asked me if, when I was in school, I ever had any friends that I thought might be gay. I said yes. I didn’t ask her why because it seemed like a pretty transparent question.

We talked a bit more about it, maybe for 5 to 10 minutes with zero uncomfortableness. I told her how different it is now than when I was in school if you are different – not necessarily easier but definitely it seems a bit more acceptable, at least where we live.

Luckily, for me, she is not a boy crazy 8th grade girl. Her friends are over the house right now as I write this playing Adele on the piano and planning a silly dance routine to videotape with their iPhones. I love that this is her experience right now and am very grateful for it.

I didn’t press our conversation any further than she wanted to take it at the time, (something I learned from first experiencing the nuances of teenage-parent relations from her older brother). However, later in the evening, I walked upstairs to her room before her friends got here and told her that I just want her to know that I don’t care who she ends up loving as long as she is happy and a good person.

It was sort of funny because she knew I would do that. She confided she had a crush on a boy a year ago or so but, to use her words, “I have no idea what I’m going to be like.” That is one of the greatest gifts a dad could hear – the freedom your own child expresses when facing her future – a moment free from the never-ending mound of expectations that accompany so many children transitioning into young adulthood.

This is something I am learning to give myself, finally, and if, decades earlier than for me, I can help make my kids think that their sense of self is not something that is given but rather is a given, then I can forgive myself most of the many, many mess-ups I make along the way.

A world of people who feel good about themselves would be a much different place than the one we live in today.

Until next time,

Marc





A New Year’s Reflection for all my Trump Supporting Friends and Family

2 10 2016

Image result for republican and democrat together

Tonight will mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year 5777 and though I am not religious, I thought this was as good as an opportunity to wish all my Jewish (and non-Jewish) friends and family a Healthy, Happy year ahead.

This is typically a good time for reflection – in the Jewish religion – as to what kind of person we were during the past year and our hope to be “inscribed” for a good year to come. This is an easy wish to also grant to those around us, particularly those who happen to agree with our positions, but not so much for those who do not, especially during this vitriolic election cycle.

So, in an effort to really try and challenge myself as to how people I care about could possibly support someone that is so antithetical to most of my beliefs, I am taking this opportunity to turn things around and demonstrate a willingness to assume the best. Here it goes.

You really do want to make America Great Again.

 

Let me be the first (and maybe only) to admit that when Trump says this, I don’t know what his reference point is? I hear a lot about financial metrics like jobs and infrastructure, which is hard to disagree with in regarding the need to move this forward – a platform of all involved parties.

However, if you happen to be non-white, and, for the most part, non-Christian, America wasn’t so great in the first place. This is not a bleeding heart liberal opinion. It is fact. Ever notice that the only people ever getting really angry about calling out racism are white people? I’m one of them by the way (white, not calling out racism – well, ok, both).

Nonetheless, the purpose of this blog is not to defend nor accuse and therefore, I get it. You truly believe that Trump has the business experience, the balls and the intention of focusing on America and its future for the better. I believe that for Hillary and believed that for Kasich. I even could sort of believe that for Bush. Trump? Not so much. But that is my belief and I respect yours.

You don’t trust Hillary and rather see Trump in office, or anyone, other than her.

 

I get this, too. Let me just say that it is disconcerting that this presidential race seems more like a high school race, based on popularity and likeability, rather than who is best to lead, but I, again, will give you the benefit of the doubt that you, too, are deciding based on leadership, not based on who you’d like to have a beer with.

That being said, I will accept that, even given the 3rd party, non-partisan, vetted and credible fact checking sources that are often cited that show Trump actually lies more than Clinton (what a low bar either way, I realize), you inherently feel that there is more trust in a Trump presidency than a Clinton one. Perhaps it has to do with his proclivity for not being able to hold back a single thought and therefore there is seemingly more transparency. Either way, trust and instinct are very subjective and I cannot challenge the reasons why you find one more trustworthy than the other anymore than I can challenge why you might like one type of music over another.

You feel only Trump will call it like it is and put America first, reversing what seems to be like out-of-control policies of the last 8 years.

 

Whether it is immigration, the racial tensions between African American communities and our police, or policy on trade with other nations, one could certainly surmise that we have lost our way in constructing a foundation for ourselves that will lead to security and prosperity. I watch the news, too (though that needs to stop) and it’s very easy to lose perspective.

The truth is that there is no candidate that will be able to ignore any of these (or other) major issues. I hope we can all agree that no candidate is suggesting that there isn’t a problem, but rather, unfortunately, we hear little other than focusing largely on who is to blame. Like any complex situation, there is no “one” person or administration to blame but like the other items above, I, too, get how you feel Trump will be more targeted in identifying and implementing solutions here. I disagree but should he enter office, for the sake of our nation, I hope you are correct and respect your belief.

So there it is – I know there is a lot more. I am not anti-Republican. I am anti-Trump. Absolutely 100% without a doubt. The hate and separation that has been excavated from the underbelly of our own backyards has deeply saddened and troubled me. I pray that we may all find healing together. But that’s not going to happen if we don’t at least try to understand where each of us is coming from. We don’t have to like or even accept it. Understanding is all that is needed. This is my attempt to do so.

Whether it is in the context of the Jewish New Year, the “Traditional” New Year, or just a new day – may we all breath out that which divides us and deeply breathe in that which connects us – love, hope and most of all, peace. It’s there in all of us if we could tap into it and let fear aside for a few moments to allow space.

Until next time,

Marc

 





I’m back (and squishier than before)

24 09 2016
sleeping-woman

Teen car- sleeping was not as blissful as this but this rendition will have to do.

I haven’t written in a while.

I think about it every single day – and more than once.

There are a few reasons why this is so but none of them really matter. The best way I can describe the hiatus is similar to describing that closet or drawer that has been on your To Do list to “get to one of these days” that is so cluttered that you don’t know where to start. Moreover, it’s not just cluttered with junk – you know, all those annoying gift bag, crappy toys your kids come home with from every birthday party or even all those extra samples that come in the mail. Nope, this is a drawer or closet (or in my case, what feels like a compound) full of things that all hold such profound and deep emotions that to start to write about them is way too hard. It is much easier to peruse Facebook or Twitter and make snide, humorous comments until the bottle of wine is empty, the kids are in bed and you convince yourself that you were just “too swamped” to get to what you really want to do – write. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)

(Deep sigh.) There, that feels better.

Not really.

Can I offer anyone a glass of a fine $9 2015 Tempranillo? Anyone? Just me?

So, today, on my car ride back from hiking with the kids and some family friends, I committed myself to writing – wherever it may go. I have a ton of topics – everything from Buddhism to relationships to finally running with no shirt on. (I know – whoa! Shit getting real, now.)

I think I’ll just start with today because as I am learning – painfully – today is really all that we ever have. Period.

The weather was absolutely beautiful and after leaving the mountain for a 90 minute drive back home with the kids, I finally felt a certain sense of peace that was literally the complete opposite of what I have been feeling for a while, despite a seriously increased commitment to meditation.

I looked over at my daughter in the passenger seat, earbuds in, head achingly dangling forward as to not even be able to envision an actual attached neck and completely passed out with the sun dancing on her lashes just like the day she was born. My son, taller than me now (not a hard objective, actually), was in the fetal position taking over the back seat in a sound slumber himself.

Both teenagers now, observing them asleep is the closest I can still come to some sort of God. I waited for it for a long time when I was younger. It came. And now, I am a witness to its slow passage. On the radio – “New Slang” by the Shins was playing. “I’m looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find. Without a trust or flaming fields am I too dumb to refine?”

There I was – just me and my kids. I would have done anything to stay in that car with them on a sunny highway forever. I just started crying. I couldn’t help it. I’ve been crying a lot lately. For passages. For hope. For anything that helps open up blockages that keep the spirit from flowing. It sucks.

It’s hard for me to love because it really starts with oneself. This is both a fact and a confession – both embarrassing and true at once. For me, my kids are the only way I can tap into that love because I am really nothing more than a witness so it is completely pure. From their birth, the fact that their souls journeyed to me somehow is overwhelming. I have always said that they chose me somehow. It’s hard to explain but it was in their gaze toward me the moment they were born. There was a knowing there that was overwhelming, intimidating, and definitive, all at once. I can picture it clearly to this very moment.

This is not an endorsement for having children or for a belief in reincarnation. It is simply an acknowledgement that within each of us lies the ability to be cracked open a bit more regardless of whether we may consciously or unconsciously be willing to be an active participant. It is scary, sometimes immobilizing and absolutely necessary.

Luckily, I had Waze on to direct me on my way back and before I welled up too much, thereby restricting my vision, I heard a voice that alerted me: “Car stopped on shoulder”. I’m guessing that driver was having a moment, too.

Or that’s at least what I told myself.

Until next time (and yes, there will be a next time),

Marc

 

 

 

 





Why are Marriage & Divorce So Separate?

2 04 2016
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Now only if there were a divorce registry, too.

That seems like an odd question, I know.

I read an interesting blog post that I somehow stumbled upon from a TED website written about divorce. It was challenging us regarding the way in which we think of divorce so differently than we do about marriage.

I’ll try to explain it. Basically, in the U.S., the notion of marrying for anything other than love, or at least without love being the priority, is judged in a way that is typically viewed as unromantic and maybe even “wrong”. However, when people divorce for “falling out of love”, it is looked down upon. Essentially, is it not somewhat hypocritical to allow and even, expect, a false standard on one end (love being the foundation for marriage) but not on the other (divorcing when said love no longer exists)? We are telling ourselves that it is critical to marry for love but if you fall out of love, you should stick with it.

Here’s where things get tricky. I didn’t necessarily disagree with that notion because it’s not just about one person or even the marital couple, especially when children are involved. For me, this concept made me think about my actions to stay married. I don’t think love was the issue, at least not for me. As difficult as things got, I never considered them to be so bad as to destroy, separate and ultimately dissolve what grew out of it – a familial unit, a way of being, a path toward something. This was clearly not a two way street and as I am on the “tail end of the end” and approaching the very “beginning of the beginning”, I can see that I am already better off and my kids, thankfully, are thriving in this new world.

That being said, it has made me wonder about the constitution of marriage. Though liberal in so many ways, I held onto more traditional norms about “sticking” with it when it came to marriage. Perhaps this was more out of fear than anything. But let’s play this through. If, in fact, many people believe in the nobleness of trudging through the mud, sometimes many times and for long periods, in the name of marital commitment whereby marriage is more than just “finding your soul mate”, then why should it be looked down upon when there are those who may decide to have a more deliberate and practical approach to marriage in the first place? Sure, love and respect are foundational but let’s be honest, there are plenty who select partners based on parameters that have nothing to do with love. Anyone happen upon Rupert Murdoch’s latest wedding?

I am not anti-marriage – just for me. What it comes down to is having no judgement as to the decisions that people make to enter or not enter into marriage nor to stay or exit from marriage once that hard decision is made. I think that this mindset would do two things: 1. it would slowly evolve to where people truly marry for the right reasons and not out of any type of cultural norm, fear, expectation or fairy tale; and 2. it would de-stigmatize what happens when marriages end, for we would no longer so unrealistically separate the human condition which draws us into a commitment from that which may tell us it is finally time to move on.

Thanks for “listening”. I’d love your thoughts on the matter (or any matter).

Until next time,

Marc








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