Introspection, Lessons and the Way Forward
by Stan Faryna
Cold Play, Fix You
Jack Steiner touched briefly upon the subject of introspection, reflection, and moving forward. You can read it here:
And in their own way and style, coincidentally, so do others. Read…
You Don’t Have To Be Perfect by Bill Dorman
What Can Writer’s Block Teach You About Writing? by John Magnet Bell
Dancing with the Scares by Billy Delaney
This last weekend, I had my second outing with my boy since the divorce. We stayed overnight at his former nanny’s house in the country. No running water, outhouse, etc. I wasn’t feeling well, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to spend an uninterrupted 24 hours with Johnny. That opportunity is as rare as moon rocks.
A reoccurring fear-question-self condemnation was how I suck in terms of parenting. I’m a daddy but even my seven year old calls me by my first name – despite my gentle protests. And Johnny’s doing so reminds me, rightly or wrongly, of the parenting that is missing in our relationship.
Sure, Johnny loves me. Somehow. I’m not sure how or why. He wants to spend time with me – even though we don’t really speak the same language.
Anyway, the plot is not going to resolve in the near future and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. It will play out across the years and I am powerless to change it otherwise.
Life can be like that.
Nonetheless, Johnny learned some things this weekend. Maybe. Not so much from me, but from the animals: some chickens, a cat, and a cow.
Hopefully, he started to understand that he is not the master of the universe. That one must be gentle and careful as we walk amidst the beauty and the noise. That others are not objects to be manipulated according to our impulsive whim. Or sinister plot. Or selfish ambition. Or amusement.
These are lessons that will take years to truly understand. And some – will never know what beauty is.
Johnny chased the chickens around the property for most of the day. He was told that the chickens wouldn’t lay eggs if he continued to terrorize them. He continued to terrorize the chickens. And the next morning, he was bummed out that there were no eggs for breakfast.
Then, a cat scratched and bit Johnny.
We told him it would. He was bringing the cat to the dog as an offering of peace. The dog almost liked the idea. The cat did not. As Johnny held the cat in front of the dog, the cat twisted, turned, bit and scratched him. Until he let go of it – which he did not do immediately.
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Some lessons are hard to learn. But hard lessons can be the most funny. I laughed at me – not him. Myself, I learned many things the hard way. And, often, understanding took years.
The cow was met on the roadside. We stopped to buy some vegetables on the way back. Johnny got it into his mind to intimidate a cow while I was choosing cucumbers and cauliflower.
This wasn’t a timid, docile cow that you see in the movies or picture books. This was a cow that goes out to graze by itself and returns home at sunset. This was a cow that knows how not to get hit by cars. This is a cow that can stomp and kill a dog (or a person) that threatens it.
The cow gave a vocal warning. That’s when I went over, threw Johnny under my arm, and put him back in the car. Johnny was upset with me. Very upset.
In my broken Romanian, I reminded him of what happened with the cat – that little thing. I told him what could have happened with the cow – that big thing. I told him that the cow could and would have killed him. And that it would be as painful and terrible as his grandfather’s last days- his grandfather died of cancer.
I told him that dying means getting put in a box and dropped in a deep hole in the ground. Just like what happened with his grandfather.
Johnny was quiet for the remainder of the ride. When I dropped him off, he gave me a hug, a kiss and asked if we can go back to the country next week. “If your mother lets us, we can, and I’d like that,” I said.
I continue to wonder if my explanation about the cow was helpful. Or not. I would have liked to explain the cow incident to Johnny in another way. My Romanian, however, is limited.
I think now about the weekend: how we all make mistakes, how we all have to learn some things the hard way and, more importantly, how we treat others (human or otherwise). Well or badly.
Most of all, my 24 hours with Johnny was a gift and a blessing for which I am grateful. There was laughing and tickling, water guns, and cartoons. And there are lessons in those things too – lessons that do not lack for beauty.
And the way forward?
Perhaps, the way forward is to make less mistakes. Along the way, life will reminds us (one way or another) to honor others in their dignity and presence – human or otherwise.
But that is a theoretical that must be lived, practiced and executed in action. In beauty.
That, I believe, is the way forward.
What do you think?
11 September 2012