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.

 

 

 

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First Snow, Sort of … WAKE UP!!

The image below was taken on Friday, September 13th.  Some of you have already seen this image.  You might have to expand the picture to make it worth your while.  This first snow started happening around Midnight, between the 12th and the 13th.  I was doing some work that led me late into the night and early morning.  That’s when I noticed.

FirstSnow9_12_14
First Snow

But the whiteness was not that noticeable until after Midnight.  As you can see, it is but a “dusting” of snow, not much of a snowfall.  Yet, it is enough to embarrass me, as I confess that I am  behind on wood cutting … and without excuses, so no compassion is warranted.  I also confess my lack of vision, a truth animated by these cold temperatures and poor visibility from the mist / fog / snowy air.  Simply put, I am heavy with this incoming winter.  Do I have any basis for complaining?  No.
The first snow could have happened before now.  And, thankfulness is what should be happening: God’s gift of seasons; the whiteness to symbolize what is good; the moisture for the trees, and the waterfalls.  Sometimes … in our lives … the coldness comes, poor visibility happens.  After it’s all said and done, we have reason to sing.

By the way, friends, the reason for the delay on this post was because of my other laptop’s demise.  However, Fed Ex drove by about thirty minutes ago with my birthday present.  My birthday has already passed, but thankfulness is high, for this laptop – birthday present.  I decided my first order of business was to finish this post that I attempted to write before the untimely passing of my previous laptop.  Indeed, I am thankful for my wife’s kindness to procure a healthier laptop for me.  Thank you, my dear.  I think, but I’m not sure, that this laptop doesn’t require an oil change every three-thousand miles.  That’s a bonus, eh?

 Have a good winter.

T

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!

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.

Haunts from Antarctic Wilder Man

CLOSURE.  I need some closure!

For years I have carried a distinct heaviness from a British Antarctic explorer by the name of Robert Falcon Scott.  He led an expedition to the South Pole.  They spent the winter of 1911 on Cape Evans, part of Ross Island, in a structure they built known as “Scott’s Hut”.  From here, Captain Scott selected four men to continue on for the South Pole.  Scott intended to get there before anyone else.  There was a Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, taking an Antarctic expedition for the South Pole at the same time.  Thus, a race.  Robert Scott reached the South Pole (01/17/1912) and was unfathomably despaired to see a tent, left by Roald Amundsen.  Inside the tent a note addressed to Scott explained that Amundsen’s team had arrived on December 14th, five weeks before Scott’s five-man team reached the Pole.  Amundsen and his team made it back to Norway.  Scott and his five man team died on the Ice.

So, where do I come in?  I worked in an Antarctica field camp (there are quite a few of us Antarcticans) for five months, a breakfast cook.  One evening, I was told to grab my ECW gear (Extreme Cold Weather) and climb into a Hagglund (below, http://www.milmac.se/index.php?page=hagglunds-bv206-personell-carrier&hl=usa).

Hagglunds BV206 Personell CarrierWe were going to Scott’s Hut.  The place is remarkably preserved, due to cold temperatures / low humidity.  I stood by the long dining table, next to the chair where Scott sat at the head of the table.  I feel like I know this guy; impossible … as he died before I was born.  His story is haunting; his pictures are haunting.  Maybe its time for me to quit thinking about Scott and Amundsen.  Maybe not.  His mission was a tragedy, not very positive.  Here’s the rub: Scott’s story is a prolific example of courage / desire to take on dangerous adventures. Things get crazy, sometimes, in a harsh environment.  Scott’s diaries show that he went after this dream.

I think of Antarctica as a cold, merciless, jealous, mistress that refuses to let some men leave; such as the five men on Scott’s polar team, pictured below: (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/jan-18-1912-robert-falcon-scott-discovers-tent-of-explorer-who-beat-him-to-south-pole/?_r=0)

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/jan-18-1912-robert-falcon-scott-discovers-tent-of-explorer-who-beat-him-to-south-pole/?_r=0
Henry Bowers pulled the string for the camera. Robert F. Scott’s expedition team at the South Pole, Jan. 17, 1912. Left to right: Lawrence Oates, Henry Bowers, Scott, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans.
scott-hut_dinner_spri
http://www.amusingplanet.com/2011/05/captain-robert-scotts-hut-in-antarctica.html

 Here is an image of his last diary entry.  The lines read:

“We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.

R. Scott

Last entry

For God’s sake look after our people.”

Winning Battles, Men

Don’t worry.  You are tougher than hell.  There is a substance within you that makes the demons tremble.  True, they mess with you.  They mess with me, too.  That is one reason conflict happens.  If the battle gets bloody, that’s okay.  You will listen to your heart, and the wisdom that belongs to you.  You may find yourself in a battlefield, no one in sight.  The ground’s ripped up, ugliness in the trenches.  You will wonder, “Where are the other guys?”  You may not see them.

(Image below: ecogentleman.com)

ecogentleman.com

They are out there, somewhere.  Regardless of where they are, you know where YOU are.  And you are a warrior.  What else are you going to do?  You press on!  You own up to your pain, you’re wounds, your fatigue.  You consider that you are afraid.  You feel it in your stomach, and your mind is racing.  And you consider your courage.  Its there, in your heart and soul.  If you come across some enemies, you might be out-numbered.  But, you are still you: a force to be reckoned with.  Better men than you and I have died in battle.  It is not a dishonorable thing to die with courage and nobility and honor, knowing that you went down fighting.  A smaller warrior said to his larger adversary, “You very well may get the best of me.  But by the time it is over, you will know that you have been hit.”  Beware of the wrath of a patient man, when his anger manifests in an honorable way.  You will see strength, then.  And you might want to stand back.  

Man Feels Weak: Let Him Speak …

Man, do you feel weak?  Speak.  You won’t be redirected, no solutions expected.
Wisdom released,
Men seeking peace,
“Find your voice!”
Yet, be cautious with your choice.”
‘Makes sense, “Negativity … nonsense.”
Positive: the way to go,  let your success show …
Show the world, show your friends … you are the one that shines and wins.
“So, please dear brother, keep your melancholy;
We are the winners, the strong and the jolly.”

Davis, T

FYI:  Usually I don’t mind poems that rhyme, as long as it’s not my poem.  But some things happen, beyond my control.

One definition of ambivalence, because it makes the word logical and digestible:

“Ambivalence . . . the existence of two mutually exclusive (any combination of) ideas, emotions, thoughts, realities.”

STEELY DAN lyrics, from the piece entitled “Deacon Blues”, come to mind:

“They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues”

I am a firm believer in adages like:

  • “Don’t let people pull you down …”;
  • “Think negative things?  You will experience negative things …”
  • “You are responsible for your thoughts, your emotions, your actions …”

‘Got the picture?

Someone comes into your space, with heaviness, pain, anger, sadness.  It is your responsibility to set up and maintain your boundaries.  Reality: you may experience some tension:

  1. Compassion;
  2. Desire to empower;
  3. A murky mix of wanting to help, and unhealthy guilt for this person’s pain / obligation to “rescue”;
  4. Someone once said (I don’t know who) “It is what it is.”  It is of profound importance to find the “what” that “it” … “is”.

More about the tension that you may, or may not, feel.  St. John of the Cross wrote a piece

St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church.

(sixteenth century) entitled “Dark Night of the Soul“.  A great writer (passed away in 1997) named Dr. Gerald May

The Dark Night of the Soul

wrote a book based on the work by St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the SoulTerrence Real wrote a book entitled I Don’t Want to Talk About It (one of the best books on male depression I have ever read).

Cover of "I Don't Want to Talk About It: ...