Of Sons and Fathers

It has been a long time since I last wrote here and a lot has happened, the most significant being the death of my father. Now I feel the need to state up front that I did not really know him that well. He was born into an Edwardian English paradigm, one where fathers distanced themselves from their progeny. Fathers worked and children were seen and not heard; think George Banks in early scenes of Mary Poppins. The last few months have consequently involved lots of soul searching and the potential for a great deal of sadness and regret; I am though feeling far more positive as this chapter in my life ends. Through talking with people about him and revisiting memories that have long been hidden beneath more current thought, I have come to a better understanding of why we did not get to know each other. More importantly, for the first time in decades I have found a way to forgive him and this forgiveness spawns learning that I am very glad to engage.

When I think of my teens and twenties, I recognize that I was driven. This drive led to some of my most memorable moments; so much so it provided a lot of the stories from which I still teach. The drive came from a desire to fill a void. I was looking for my tribe. I was searching for adventure, excitement and a feeling of knowing what I was truly capable of. It drew me into the company of a bunch of lost boys, a number of surrogate parents and some of the most incredible people I have had the privilege to call friends. It also took me to many exquisitely beautiful places, allowed me to truly test my metal and gave me the opportunity to bear witness to some of the most incredible scenes of bravery and human spirit. The life of climbing and mountains has been a corner stone in my existence and will be a part of me I will always hold dear.

Why am I telling you this? Well my thoughts have been straying of late. I found my niche because of something that was lacking in my life and ultimately I cannot help but ask the question, “do I need to deprive my child to allow him to find himself?” Just yesterday Cai asked me, “why do you always tell me that you love me?” He is ‘taxingly’ insightful for a six year old. Ultimately, I know my father loved me, as I told Cai though, he just never informed me of this fact and did not know how to show it. What I have come to realize is that talent and accomplishment are not a reflection of a healthy or unhealthy home life. This gives me hope because I know that as I watch Cai’s talents and personality develop he will find himself with or without me.

(At this point I encourage you to look at some video of the sons of two friends of mine both of whom have doting fathers. http://www.myspace.com/samaireymusic is a myspace of an amazing talent in folk music and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZfro78oYRk is a showreel of incredible Parkour.)

The take home point for me is it is ok to show that I value Cai, it is alright to tell him I love him and take interest in what he does, it is important for me that he knows he belongs and feels I care. The hard part will be in watching and hearing the crazy and dangerous stuff that allows him to learn who he truly is.

If the foundation of any relationship is showing people that you care, how do you do it?

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Solvitur Ambulando – It is solved by walking

This morning there was a “Mexican standoff” in our house; three sets of heels dug truly and deeply in the mud. I do not really remember what it was about and yet I am sure we all had reasons for feeling the way we did. In all likelihood those reasons probably had very little to do with the issue we were choosing to focus on in the moment. All I remember was it was a typical family upset revolving around the desire to get Cai to school on time and for all of us to be able to start our day. I also know that I was feeling frustration and anger and I was not being my best self.

Thankfully we live within walking distance of Cai’s school and as he and I left the confines of the house and experienced fresh(er) air I was able to look into myself, smile and make an offering.

“Cai do you want to learn some long words in Latin, the language of the Romans?” He likes soldiers at the moment and knows about the Romans, so he smiled at me and decided it might be a good thing.

I asked him to repeat after me, “sol-vi-tur am-bu-lan-do”.

“What does it mean?”

“It is solved by walking”

Again he smiled and our conversation as we marched steadily became the “wonder full” kind you have with a five year old. We talked about how we felt in the midst of our spat, Cai informing me. “I wanted to be a wizard and change everything.” This allowed us to explore how we all have the ability to be magical, how we can choose to be our “best selves” and work hard to change our thoughts and behaviors in the moment and create an outcome that makes us proud. I told him how I had not been my best self, how I had become frustrated, he told me it was a good idea to walk away and “find my magic“. (I tell you 5 year olds are really savvy when it comes to being good humans.) And so the conversation went on; both of us owning our mistakes, both of us apologizing to the other, both of us enjoying the wind in our faces and each others company.

We got to school smiling. “So what have you learned this morning Cai?”

Cai looked at me firmly in the eyes. “Solvitur ambulando and its best when you get outside.”

How do you solve your problems?


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