“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”
– Mark Twain’s Autobiography
Sunday afternoon I got out of bed and my legs gave out from under me. It was mutiny most foul and I haven’t a clue why it happened. What I do know is that I tried to catch myself and failed to do so. These arms have ample strength in them and could easily have held me up but there was nothing to grab or hold onto.
My attempt to defeat gravity by levitation and flight also met with defeat and as a consequence I bent my left pinky toe backwards. It is now swollen and looks a bit purplish. That is a fine color for an eggplant but not so attractive for a toe.
I took my legs to task and threatened them with swift and severe retribution for said mutiny but they simply laughed at me. Collective punishment is all they said and I had to nod my head and curse. What can I do to them that won’t hurt the rest of me. I can’t talk to my children about being smart and do something so foolish. Can’t tell them that one should never cut his nose to spite his face.
Actually I can. Actually I can tell them to do as I say and not as I do.
I shared the story of the lower body mutiny because it is an example of how sometimes we don’t see things coming and that sometimes our best effort isn’t good enough to prevent bad things from happening.
My children are still angry about moving and have asked me to buy back our old home. I told them it wasn’t going to happen. I said I was sorry that they were upset and asked them to trust my judgment. We moved because of missed opportunities and because of future opportunities.
They don’t need the specific details or the how and why. It wouldn’t make them feel better nor would it make it easier for me. I won’t tell them about my frustration and anger. I won’t say that I feel like I blew it in a couple of areas.
On the other hand I can look at this truly ugly toe and be reminded that I made choices and did things that I thought were smart. Yet we got smacked in the face by the same economic tsunami that hit many others. It was unavoidable. I could have chosen to try to fight through the storm but the thing about a tsunami is that it is a unfeeling juggernaut of exceptional power.
So instead of trying to build a wall that would withstand the raw power and fury that I saw coming I built a surfboard, grabbed the family and said “hold on.”
Maybe if I would have been more alert I would have built an ark or some sort of luxury yacht but I didn’t. So we jumped on my board and hung fingers, feet and paws.
Good Times. I tell you it was all sorts of fun.
It is Called Parenting
My daughter screamed at me. She told me in no uncertain terms that she thought I had wrecked her life. I looked down at this girl of mine and saw a different sort of tsunami coming towards me. The dark haired beauty is smart and beautiful. She has a presence to her and when she is angry she comes at you like a battering ram.
She accused me of not caring about her and I laughed. I didn’t mean to, but if she had any sense of the beating I have taken on her behalf and her brother she wouldn’t say it. I told her that she needs to think very carefully before she speaks and that her lack of gratitude was irritating.
That laughter didn’t help her to hear or accept what I was saying and I probably shouldn’t have done it, but we all make mistakes. So I pulled her into my arms and gave her a big hug and told her that I keep my promises. She asked me what that meant and I told her that on the day she was born I promised to take care of her. She said that she didn’t get it and I said that was ok.
“You don’t have to understand or like everything I do. You just have to believe/trust that I am doing my best to take care of you.”
And then I reminded her that I am not her friend and that she shouldn’t treat me like one. I am her father and that means that I am required to parent even when it is hard and or uncomfortable.
The Basketball Game
In spite of my ugly and swollen toe I still played three games of basketball. It is my sanity and one day my body won’t let me play but I wasn’t going to let the toe stop me. So even though it hurt to run and I had trouble pushing off I still got my time on the court in.
Except this time I played a slightly different game. I adapted and adjusted. My team won two of the three games and I scored more points than I normally do. The increase in productivity came because I had to adjust and I recognized that I had an opportunity that I could take advantage of.
Sometimes pain leads to something better. The important thing is to remember to keep your eyes open because you never can tell what the universe will send down your way.
Thank you universe. You have given me more than I shared and more than I realized.