Friday, November 8, 2013

The First Words of the Book I Will Probably Never Write

I came into the world, and I saw this guy. This completely random guy. And I thought he was a pretty big deal. 40 years later, I know he was no better or worse than any other guy--he was just the random person chosen by fate to raise me--but at the time, I thought he was everything. And even though 40 years have passed, from my first moment to my last, that random man has been and forever will be my starting point and my reference point. Which is really unfair to me and to him.

See, even now, knowing how silly it is to compare myself to this random guy, and how unfair it is to blame him for mistakes I make in the present (and definitely for those I'm bound to make in the future), and how much of a waste of time it is to try to win his approval, still after all these years, I still do that, and I'll do that for the rest of my life. I'll try to please him, I'll try to beat him, and I'll try to blame him. And poor guy, he just wanted a kid--he didn't know kids come with a lifelong of baggage. Poor guy just wanted to be a dad.

And then one day it dawned on me, like the cliché that I am, that I was a random guy too, no better or worse than anyone else in the hospital on the days my kids were born, and that those random babies I held would--from that moment on--try to please me, compare themselves to me, beat me, and blame me... And poor me, all I wanted was to experience the best parts of my childhood again. All I wanted was to have an excuse to watch the Indiana Jones movies again.

To understand who I am as a father, and to understand my kids, I have to first understand the son that I was and the father I never bothered really knowing. And now I have this responsibility--this overwhelming responsibility to teach my kids that they don't need to please me, that they shouldn't compare themselves to anyone, and that they should never blame anyone. And I'll fail, I know I will, because while in theory I'm a great dad who can write all the right words, I'm not free from being a son, and I never will be. I'm just this random guy, after all, no better and no worse than anyone else. Just a random guy, with an awesome responsibility, who is doomed to repeat the mistakes of his father, and probably blame him for that too...

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