Wilder Man Dad: Thankfulness?

RECENTLY …

I listened to Harry Chapin’s song, “Cat’s In The Cradle”.  Man-O-Man!  What a song!  I remember my dad and I in the car; me – – – just out of high school, and “Cat’s In The Cradle” came on the radio.  Dad’s face pensive as we listened to the words.  After the song, his eyes straight ahead, peering through the windshield as if it was a dark fog, he commented about the father not making time for his son while time passed by, opportunities lost.  My guess is that my dad was thinking about his father: the small amount of time he had with his father.

“My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say ‘I’m gonna be like you, Dad
You know I’m gonna be like you’ …”

I wanted to throw out this “thing” to my fellow wilder men, and the women curious about wilder men, who love wilder men … this “thing” about being a dad, having a son, living with the tension – – –  spending time with and giving our hearts to our sons, our daughters, in a robust way, knowing that this is the time where we pour into the lives of those wonderful kiddos who we are parenting, thanks to the gifting from the God who provides, the God who loves, the God who leads.  And courage calls.  I am a wilder man who  n e e d s   courage to be a good dad, who cannot afford to flounder, and say some nonsense like “Woe is me!  I need courage to be a good dad!  How can I get courage?”

“Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
‘Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?’
He shook his head and said with a smile
‘What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?’ ….”

If I whine about ‘needing courage’, I am missing the boat, I am missing my son, I am missing my daughter.  It is not about “needing courage”.  It is about taking courage, embracing courage, using courage not unlike one handles a sword.  I know we can learn from others; we can learn from what others have to say.

“And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me / He’d grown up just like me / My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon      Little boy blue and the man in the moon

‘When you comin’ home son?’ / ‘I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad / 
We’re gonna have a good time then’ … ” 

And we can make a promise that we are not going to blow it … knowing that there is a possibility we can miss our children, knowing that we can sacrifice the fatherhood love for things that are not worth the sacrifice

Instead, we can know that we made a good, noble, courageous, other-centered choice, to love our sons and our daughters.  And we can know that we were intentional about spending priceless time with them, during their journey.

 

 

 

The Boys are Asking Questions

Hey, Guys … I have wanted to write this post for a while.  This is for men; this is for the sons who need good men to be in their life; this is for women who can encourage men as they feel led.  And just as importantly: this is for the young people in our generation, in our lives, who desperately need something, like support, like a “Hello”.   Years ago, I worked with at-risk kiddos: both boys and girls; mostly adolescents.  I remember in a group we were having at the group home, one boy was responding to my words that his participation in the group without screaming profanity was very important to everyone.  His words were:

“Who Cares?!!”

Here is what he meant:

 

 

No One Cares Depression Overcoming Depression Quotes

 

The question, “Who cares?!”, I learned is not meant as a question, but a statement.  After the boy asked that question, I answered him: “I care.”  He looked at me, rolled his eyes, and said  “It wasn’t a question.”  There are two other questions that were “asked” often:

“What difference does it make?”

“So WHAT?!  What are YOU … going to do?”

These two questions were like the first one: statements.

Okay, my point is this.  One of the dynamics that was going on, and maybe the kiddo did not even realize it, was this … in my own description:

A boy throws out a question that is really a sneer,  another version of

“F _ _ _ Y _ _”. 

The question / statement is also meant as a dare.  My paraphrase, instead of “Who Cares?”, what is meant is this:  I DARE YOU TO CARE!  Don’t tell me you care, because I’ve heard it all before by mean people, and didn’t care.  You say you care, but I am going to go run from this place, and … guess what?  You’ll never see me again!  Do you know how many stinking counselors I’ve had since I was ten, when Social Services took me away from my parents?  No, don’t tell me you care.  I know better.”

I’m going to add one statement to those three questions:

“I don’t care.”

The big picture, guys, is that this area of discussion is a big mess.  Our society has betrayed our kiddos.  If you were to invest into a kiddo, one of your hurdles would be to give that kiddo a reason to care.  Another hurdle: to show that you actually do care ( in response to the question).  And it will probably take a while.  Another hurdle: get a handle on how you are going to answer the other question, “What are you going to do?”  If you say you are going to do something, then do it.

Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. 

For their question about “difference” … that’s a tough one.  Our kiddos today need to see the difference, because talk … is … cheap.

And, my last encouragement, guys, is this.  As men (not kids / adolescents) we have our own “stuff”.  Maybe some of you are saying to yourselves right now,

“I … Don’t … Care.”

If you do not care, then forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.  Let me rephrase that:

PLEASE …

forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.

If its your son or you daughter, that is a different story but the importance of caring is no less important.  If you are doing the “I don’t care”, then you need to … somehow … get your butt from the stagnant pool of toxic emotions where you are sitting in, to some dry ground, where you will stand firm, and stand in the gap, and fight for your son and your daughter.  You are needed now.  Let’s do this.  This could be one of your finest hours.

 

 

Non-Pirate Wilderman On The Move!

I am on the move …  True,  countless times I have sat in me ship on a calm sea,  no wind to push the sails.  But, I am still, indeed, on the move.  Mornings have emerged from merciless and endless, nights; I have had no desire to step out of my night, into my light.  Such a struggle, a mistresses of depression?  

(Bombardment of Algiers by Lord Exmouth in August 1816, Thomas Luny /http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracy)

An intimate preoccupation with sleep? It is a false intimacy.    On such mornings I am reluctant to look up, fearful that I may see the Jolly Roger flying from the topmast.  As of yet, no such flag has flown.  Which leads me to a decent question: what kind of a flag am I flying, up above the ship?

(Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard, 1718 depicting the battle between Blackbeard and Lt. Maynard in Ocracoke Bay.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Capture-of-Blackbeard.jpg)

When I am sailing across the Seven Seas (which I’ve never done before, but is sounds good), seafaring men and women always take note of what flag I am flying.  

And I hope that they see that I am a good man, not afraid to fight for what is good, what is noble, what is honorable.  I hope they see that I am not a pirate; for I am a non-pirate.  If you were to hang out with pirates like Blackbeard, Thomas Tew, Henry Every, William Kidd …   you might hear such perspectives as:

  • I’m a pirate. I’m my own captain.
  • A friend can betray you, but an enemy will always stay the same.
  • Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit.
  • If ye can’t trust a pirate, ye damn well can’t trust a merchant either.
  • A pirate is for life, not just for Christmas.
  • Take what you can, give nothing back.

I am like a pirate in that I am a swashbuckling soul.  Adventure, which is at the core of “swashbuckling”, is profound: because adventure depends on what the adventure is about, and how the adventure is carried out.   Here are some contrasts, for me, when it comes to what a pirate is about, and what I am about:

  • A pirate, his own captain? That doesn’t work in a healthy marriage;
  • A “friend can betray you … an enemy will always stay the same”? I want to be a man who changes for the better … not stays the same; and friends? Yes, they will let you down; but you will let them down, as well;
  • “If ye can’t trust a pirate, ye damn well can’t trust a merchant either”?  Ahhh, the power of rationalization;
  • “A pirate is for life, not just for Christmas”?  It would get old living a life of violence, selfishness, greed, lying, thievery, doing the same thing over and over and over … always wondering who is going to betray you;
  • “Take what you can, give nothing back”? Bummer.  I guess that rules out being a good husband, a good father, and a good friend.

Yep.  Non-pirate.  That is the life for me!

Fears of Wildermen

Some men fear …

Not being known;

Being known;

Thus, some men desire to be known and …

at the same time … fear being known.

Men fear being ridiculed.

Men fear condescension.

Men fear isolation and … at the same time … desire isolation.

Men fear pain.

Men fear intimacy.

Men fear loss, and defeat; men fear being shamed; men fear being bullied; men fear being backed in a corner. Image below, from the movie “Braveheart” http://www.evanrichards.com.

Braveheart447

Men are called to deal with fear, with honor, with the right timing, the right strategy.
Image right, from the movie “Argo”, http://www.geckoandfly.com.  Men fear being betrayed.  Men fear their anger.  Men fear living … not dying. Men fear failure.  Men, at the same time do not fear failure.  Men fear insignificance. 

“Courage is not living without fear.  Courage is being scared to death and doing the right thing anyway.”  (Movie, “Argo”)

The Duke: Up Ahead On the Trail

“Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much.” 

John Wayne

https://i1.wp.com/www.talktherapybiz.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/john-wayne-true-grit.jpg
John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, “True Grit

An image emerges: John Wayne and a young buck ride on their horses into “an unknown”.  John Wayne, also known as “The Duke”, keeps his eyes on the trail looking for what is ahead, while speaking to the younger one, who … in The Duke’s thinking, he is responsible for.  John Wayne, the mentor, wants to prepare the mentee for what is ahead … both in the immediate scenario and the long term journey.

Now, another image comes to mind of a dad, or a mentor, or both, walking with a younger one … a son, a mentee, a student … both attentive to each other: one teaching / modeling, and the other paying attention to what the younger knows is important, what will be remembered for the trails ahead.

I am immeasurably thankful for good men (the kind that are rare, who will always be remembered) who passed on some wisdom … not because they had to, but because they believed that this what needed to happen, and because I clearly needed to receive what they had to offer, for my own benefit.  And, in the name of tension, I remember … as well … the times where I struggled along the way, encountering the unknown, seemingly alone with no one there at the time to teach me, to guide me.

“Tomorrow hopes we have learned

something from yesterday.”

John Wayne 

My “young buck” status no longer applies, and I continue to grapple with what I call “ambivalence”.  My own definition of ambivalence goes something like this:

“Ambivalence: the existence of two mutually exclusive emotions, thoughts, or concepts.”

I’ve made mistakes.  And “the right thing to do” means: learning from those mistakes; choosing to live not in the past, but in the present with one eye on the future; and releasing any self contempt or bitterness about what has happened behind me.  I want to take care of my horse.  I want to listen well.  I want to “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much …”, in the words of The Duke.

Problem Solving, Men

“Bro: yes, there is a problem. 

Now, what?”

A friend from the distant past had a sign above his door: “Now, what?”

I connected with the question, my thoughts and my strategies a part of “Now, what?”

Hypothetical: a man asked, “Well?  Is this a problem?  Or is it an opportunity?”  I smiled at the older codger, filled up with himself.  I slowly moved my head left to right, and simultaneously said Yes“.   A confused look appeared on to his face.  “What the heck do you mean?  You are shaking your head, which means ‘No’ … and you are saying ‘Yes’, which means … “Yes’.  Which one is it?”

Fortunately, my mischievous tomfoolery was hidden, knowing that I had managed to bring some disruption to the man.  Yes, the old motivational quip most of us have seen for years and years does apply, to some degree. 

“A problem is an opportunity in disguise.”

But, if a fellow is in deep yogurt, his anxiety alarmingly high, chances are he is not thinking of a motivational poster with a cool picture and words about a problem being an opportunity.  The wilder man may just want a solution to his problem, have no interest in an opportunity. 

 

Wallpapers Chalkboard Tags Equation Theorem Math Image Resolution X   1920x1200

http://www.wallsave.com/wallpaper/1920×1200/chalkboard-tags-equation-theorem-math-image-resolution-x-2768651.html

Some of us men have found ourselves in a  crazed-pickle, with the only opportunity we saw was the opportunity to get our butts kicked, in some form or fashion.  For those who have the problem-solving “opportunities” wrapped up like a Christmas present, congratulations.  But some of us have not yet fully arrived at this state of transcendence.  Here are some out-of-the-box thoughts that I have come up with while walking down the Rolling Creek Trail:

  1. Two are better than one, especially when the yogurt is deep … depending on who the “other” one is, obviously;
  2. When problems, or “opportunities” come up, this is a serious place where negativity rises up like a bunch of hoodlums going after a wilder man;
  3. Admittedly, opportunity comes with problems, but we may be oblivious to such unless / until we change our thinking for the better;
  4. Denial and procrastination are both options, but not good ones, and fear often fuels both of these thugs.

Within this realm, of “opportunity-solving”, there are perspectives close by that can help, or hinder.  Here is one: “A problem is not a problem if there is no solution; it is a situation … and I have no choice but to deal with the situation.”  A dangerous move is to embrace the phrase “I have no choice”.  We always have a choice.  And if a problem is (also) a situation, that does not mean that we quit looking for a solution.  The solution may in fact show itself, but not immediately.

The journeys of good wilder men mean that we bring our tools with us: initiative, courage, confidence, teachability, good relationships, wisdom, realism, optimism, vision, creativity, a sense of urgency, and sharpened awareness skills.  Oh, and two more things: humor and hope.  Until next time. T

Up, Back On the Horse!

BUCKING BRONCO by Frank Frazetta

Timing is a factor here.  Some guys never get thrown off the horse.  And some of those guys look down on the other guys who have been thrown off the horse.  And therefore … yes, you know where I’m going … the guys who have been thrown off the horse are not going to admit, which means dealing with the “throw-off” on their own.  I’m not saying that’s a bad idea.  But I am saying that handling it on your own is not the only option.

If I were to end the post right there, after that last sentence, this would be about the reality of tension … and the reality that there are stretches of long dark highways with no gas stations, no streetlights, no houses, no convenience stores, etc., in our lives.  A guy named Tozer (long “o”) who said “The saint must walk alone.”  And maybe that is the best way to end it.  I am talking mainly to the guys, but we all know that women get thrown off the horse.  And they have to make a decision about what the process looks like.  What I believe is worth mentioning is that this is a judgment call for each wilder man.  Just don’t ever forget that you are a wilder man.  It looks a bit different for each man.  If you don’t get back on the horse right away, I think there is some wisdom there.  Listen to what your heart is telling you.  But if its about courage, then grab a good grip on that strap, cowboy.  Hold on for the ride of your life.  Even if you do get bucked off.  You are a wilder man.