Posted in advice

The Need for Forgiveness

Today is my dad’s birthday, so I went to the cemetery to put some flowers on his grave.  His death has not been easy, and the breakdown he and I had 4 years ago makes it even harder.  It is one of the reasons that I write so much about forgiveness and patience.  We had a falling out from what I believe was a misunderstanding that got out of hand.  I lost my temper and said things I wish I could take back, all because it didn’t seem like what I was saying or texting were being understood.  After I blew up, my parents were mad at me, and made it clear through my brother, kids, and my friends that never wanted to see or talk to me again.

Over the years that passed I felt like I was trying to reach out to apologize.  My kids would always go over to visit them, which I did stop for a little bit, because my kids were coming back with stories that were not true, and I had proof to support it.  I would send my mom a birthday gift every year, and the gift I would get was to keep up with a tradition we started before our fight.  I got my dad a gift for his birthday about 4 weeks after our fight, and because it was from me, he sent it back with my kids.  Two years later I got him another gift, and he kept that one.  He did not make it another year, and he passed away on my 40th birthday.

When I went to the hospital he had already passed, and that was the first time I had really seen him in 4 years.  When I saw my mom at the hospital, we agreed it was time to put everything behind us.  Just to be clear, I was responsible for that fight, and I should not have lost my cool.  I just wish my parents would have accepted my olive branches and forgiven me before my father passed.  I don’t know what I could have done differently because I felt like I was respecting their wishes by staying away. 

While I do not feel guilty, because I believe I did everything I could to patch things up.  It doesn’t change the fact that I wish I had a better last memory of my father alive.  All of the places I looked for what to do, really only addressed parent and grown children problems, from the child cutting off the parent and not the other way around.

I tell you this story, because if you are the parent of an adult child seeking your forgiveness, please do.  Because tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us.  You may pass before patching things up with your child, or worse, your child may pass before you.  Unfortunately, time machines do not exist, and the only time you really have is now.  Leaving this world with anger on your heart is no way to go, so just let it go, what do you have to lose in rebuilding a bridge instead of leaving the rubble.  My dad is finally at peace, it just would have been nice to say “Hello” on last time.

Posted in advice

Don’t Sweat it

I have written about worrying before in this blog, but I find in my conversations with people that they spend a lot of time doing it.  Not saying how we feel or what we may be thinking because it might hurt someone’s feelings.  Not doing what needs to be done because we worry about how it may be taken.  Worrying about what other people have, and trying to keep up with them.  Worrying about what other people do with their money and their time.

Worry is a symptom of a greater problem, and for every person the disease may be different.  The problem is that a lot of times we put ourselves in the very situations that we start to worry about.  To a certain degree life is a constant comparison between us and our peers.  When our friend gets a new car, we have a desire to have a new car.  If our niece or nephew excels in something, we want to push our kids to excel in something too.  When our kid gets into the advanced classes other people push their kids to get into the advanced classes.  And when it comes to colleges, rivalries and allegiances are built there, and we start putting these expectations onto our kids.

I think everyone needs a good dose of humility.  We can be happy with what we have, and try to plan for a better tomorrow.  We don’t need to the newest or best thing, what ever that may be, a house, a car, or a fancy diploma.  Because chasing those things will lead to worry about how your going to keep paying for them, when you lose your job, when the main income provider passes away, you get divorced, or any number of things that can happen to reduce or eliminate income.  If you don’t want to worry about money, worry about getting out of debt before getting nice things.  Learn the difference between want and need.  Then only buy the nice things you want with the cash you have.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  As a father of three, I can tell you it is tempting to try to push your kids too far.  When it came time for them to decide on their classes, they were all accepted into the advanced level classes.  But I told them not to waste their time on advanced level classes that they had no interest in doing when grew up.  So, they went into advanced level math and science, because they aren’t going to be English professors or historians.  Not that it doesn’t look good on a college application, but advanced classes take up a lot of time.  I would rather have A’s in all of the classes than teetering between a B and C, not to mention the needless stress of studying. 

Plenty people brag to me about how their kids are in advanced classes, but also tell me how stressed out their kids are.  If my kids don’t make to an IVY league school, I don’t care, because diplomas are about value, in my opinion, not status.  If you spend $200,000 on degree, that lands you a job that didn’t require a degree, or maybe it did, but the most you will ever make is $80,000 a year, is it worth it?  If someone has a degree from Harvard, does it matter if they are living under a bridge?  While the someone else is making $150,000 after going to trade school for a couple of months and can weld.  What has the most value, and who had to worry more?  Was it worth it?

As a parent, I think more of our time is worrying about our kids, while trying to keep an illusion up.  We don’t want to admit to our kids the mistakes we made, and acknowledge that they were mistakes.  We just want to tell them not do stuff, because we know the result.  Without telling them that we did it, they don’t think we understand.  And if we don’t acknowledge we made a mistake in our youth, they see us as hypocrites.  So many of us seem to forget that that is exactly the way we were as kids too.  If you are worried about your kids, we have to break this cycle.

This is one of my longer posts, but if there is one thing I hope you can take a way it is this, change the things that you can, let go of the things that you can’t, and seek the wisdom do know the difference, but don’t worry about something when you have done everything you can.

Posted in perspective

The Illusion of Control

So, I know it has been 2 months since I posted anything, but man, what a crazy two months it has been.  The beginning of the year looked so positive and promising, and here we are, dare I say, all of us asking where the reset button is from 2020.  It is a like a video game that went sideways early on and instead of trying to slog through the rest of the game, it is just easier to start over.

That is the thing, though, time does not stop, and flux capacitors haven’t been invented yet, but I still want a DeLorean.  We pretend that we have control over our lives, and to some extent we do, but when it comes to the time, we leave this world, we have almost none.  You can get your annual check-ups, you can watch your diet, and exercise, but that isn’t going to save you from the idiot driver who isn’t paying attention.  Shoot, you can live a healthy lifestyle and still have a heart attack, like one of the trainers from the Biggest Looser

My dad was probably one of the healthiest people in my family, did everything he was supposed to do, and one morning he had a heart attack, and we lost him that day.  With everything going on this year, my grandmother could not attend his funeral so she could say goodbye to her son.  And while this virus is bad, we were told early on that it wasn’t worse than the flu, then we shut everything down.  Now, as we get more data, we find out it is a little worse than the flu but not that much worse.  The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1%, but studies done in New York show it may actually be closer to 0.5%.

For context we currently have number of deaths attributed to covid-19 of about 63,000 per the CDC at the time of me writing this.  We have been dealing with this virus since early February at the earliest, since the cases before that were brought over and quarantined from out of the country.  The flu in 2017-2018 killed 79,400 according to the CDC, and in 2018-2019 it killed 34,200 according to the CDC.  The number in the 2017-2018 season are worse than the latest models for covid-19 that predict about 74000 deaths according to the University of Washington models.  But we have a vaccine for the flu, and we have nothing for covid-19, and the vaccine in 17-18 was 40% effective.  That is not great but it is better than nothing.  Could you imagine if the vaccine didn’t exist what that flu would have been like?

Even with those rates, people still don’t want to get the shot.  I use public restrooms and wash my hands like I am going into surgery.  I even use a towel to grab the door handle when I leave, because I see a bunch of people who take a shit and just leave.  I watched an episode of Mythbusters where they proved that there was almost nothing you could do to keep poop off of your toothbrush.  Now I soak my brush with Listerine before I use it.

The only difference I see now, is that it is on the news all of the time.  It is like school massacres, you would think they were just a phenomenon that started in the 90s.  But just do a google search and you will find they have been going on since the 1840s, and the worst one being in 20s, and I mean the 1920s.  We don’t remember them, because they were local events and not all over the national news.  These are terrifying things, and I am not advocating for people to not be aware or precautious.  But life is dangerous, we can all build bunkers that are hurricane and tornado proof, with disinfecting showers when you enter and hermetically seal behind you.

At the end of the day we are all still going to die, we can choose enjoy the life we have and accept the risks and possibly die young.  Or we can be miserable, eat only healthy foods, exercise frequently, never really have human contact for fear of disease, and still die young, because of all of the stress we had worrying about being healthy.  No matter how anyone may feel, there are just things that are beyond our control, and no amount of worry or stress will change that. 

But please, wash your fucking hands in the bathroom, if you really don’t think you need to, stop using toilet paper, then maybe there would be some in the stores.

Posted in advice

Death of or by Worrying

Life is a beautiful and complicated thing.  Everyday we are challenged with constant decisions that we have to make, for ourselves and those we care about.  Those decisions have impacts that go far beyond what we may have intended, and have a butterfly effect that may go on long after we are gone.  Our children, their friends, nieces, and nephews, can be very impressionable and one thing that was said or done may have an impact on what they do in the future and how they interact with the people in their lives. 

If you sit and think about the ripples you can have on others lives and how they may turn into waves, you may spend a lot of time worrying about whether you have had a positive or negative impact.  But what good does worrying do?  This is something that I think most, if not all of us, deal with, we spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the present that we don’t take time to think about the future.

When something goes wrong in life, we look for who to blame.  The person we blame tries to excuse his decisions or actions.  But is that really the point, consequences should not be about revenge or punishment, but about rehabilitation, and preventing something from happening again.  When we make excuses, it is because we are worried that taking responsibility will lead to a punishment we don’t want.  The problem here is that both the accuser and accused aren’t thinking about fixing a problem for the future, but just want the satisfaction of being right.  If the accuser is clear that they just don’t want the transgression to happen again, then the accused can take responsibility and change the way they act in the future.

But so much time is spent worrying about what could or might happen, that we don’t take the actions to change what is going to happen.  Don’t let the worry monster kill you, instead slay the worry monster. Worrying will not feed you, it will not heal you, and most definitely it will not fix anything, only your actions, in word or in deed, can do that.