What Do You Need Versus What You Want

“Riding my life
Like a run-a-way train
Moving from
One track to that
Howling, crying,
Screaming at the moon
Only my voice came back
Only the echo came back
Prodigal Blues- Billy Idol

Dear children,

We need to have another conversation about identifying what you need versus what you want. It is an important distinction because when you know the difference it makes life easier.

We are about six months into this new chapter of our lives or maybe it is more accurate to say that we are six months into the transition that leads to the next chapter. Frankly I can’t decide which is which and I am not sure if it really matters.

What I know for certain is that we have faced considerable challenges and though you may not see it I can tell you we have already overcome most of them. That is the benefit of life experience speaking. I can look at the past and use that as a reasonably accurate tool to see the future. While it doesn’t provide me with as much clarity or prescient sight as we might like it is enough.

Think of it as being similar to my being taller than you are. The extra height allows me to see what lies ahead more easily than you can. But though I work hard to try to make you comfortable and confident I know that you are feeling unsettled. I am sorry for that and I’ll do my best to change that quickly but in the interim you just have to roll with the punches.

It is not unlike our conversations about sailing and body surfing. It is much harder to fight the current so it is to our advantage to swim with it when we can. If you work hard and time it right you just might be able to use the energy of the waves to make your way to shore.

I don’t know when you are going to read this but I expect it is going to be sometime in the distant future. You understanding and interpretation of these words will be different then. You’ll be older and more mature and maybe you’ll have a deeper appreciation of what happened and why I did certain things. That is also tied into why I haven’t told you about everything.  I don’t think it would help you and I don’t want you being worried about what you can’t change.

My grandfather used to say that you have to play the hand your dealt and he was right. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to sit back and watch.  I am certainly better about it

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” William Shakespeare

It is Sunday afternoon and I am hanging out with my electronic mistresses. Got the computer, iPod and Droid on the end table next to me, but my real focus is on trying to find the right words to express myself. Those aren’t quite right but they aren’t necessarily wrong either.

Been thinking about what my goals are and wondering if the plan I created makes sense. Maybe sense isn’t the right word either, maybe it is more accurate to say that I am evaluating my progress and trying to determine if I can become more effective/efficient.

Old Willy Shakespeare is right about all of the different parts we play in life. It is kind of fun to look back at former roles and to look ahead at those that are coming down the pike. Been spending most of my time looking at those that are just around the corner with a mix of excitement and anxiety.

Some of the changes that I expect are going to rock this world that we created and I can’t say how. I expect most if not all will lead to good things and many improvements but it is possible that there might be a few snags. It is those hiccups that concern me but I am determined to hit them head on.

I am tired of watching and waiting. Bring on the battle and let’s dance a little bit. It won’t be the first time that I have gotten popped on the chin and I want to know what sort of impact it is going to have. It sounds melodramatic but I always do better after blood has been drawn. I do better because now I know what I am dealing with and can adjust accordingly.

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine” Ralph Waldo Emerson

That is one of my favorite quotes. It is a reminder that sometimes we are our own biggest enemies. It is a fair assessment. When I look in the mirror I see my arch nemesis and the superhero he battles with.

But so much of this comes back to making the determination of what we need and what we want. Because when you figure that out it becomes much easier to eliminate the extraneous crap that creates confusion. Get rid of the dead weight and focus on the people/places/things that help you love and live.

Get rid of the dead weight and you find the days are better, brighter and happier. That is my focus and has been for a while but until recently it hasn’t been real obvious to others. That is ok with me because we have to follow our paths and do our best to live the lives that we want.

So children climb on my back if you need to and just hold on because sometimes daddies don’t bother asking for directions or try looking for a path. I am a traveler through life and so are you.

That is one of the reasons I am a dad blogger. This joint here helps clear my mind and makes it easier for me to see the path I am trying to create. It also provides a great chronicle of the things we have done and the experiences we have shared.



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  1. The Hook February 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Once again, your style and delivery has left me envious, Jack!
    Well played!

  2. LaRae Quy February 14, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Hi Jack

    LOVE that Ralph Waldo Emerson quote! I was trying to explain to one of my non-technical friends the essence of Twitter and I finally said, “Look, 140 characters forces you cut through the BS and get to the heart of it.” All that extraneous stuff has to get thrown out the window. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Twitter is having a moment . . a big one, at that.

    • Jack February 14, 2012 at 12:51 am

      Hi LaRae,

      Emerson is a personal favorite. It is funny because when I was first exposed to him in junior high school I saw him as a stuffy old man who was dead and useless.

      But I have obviously since changed my mind. He does a wonderful job of cutting to the heart of the matter.

      That quote really speak volumes.

  3. Claudia February 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    This was beautiful Jack. The whole time I was reading it I was thinking to myself that your gift of writing has allowed you to become your own therapist, in a way. You are able to exquisitely put together a bunch of random thoughts, turn them into beautiful prose AND clean out the closet that is inside your head (like you said, “clear your mind”)and walk away probably feeling like you just had a cathartic experience. Your children are in for a real treat when they finally do sit down and take their Dad all in. You are kind of the writer version of HIMYM 😉

    • Jack February 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Claudia,

      This blog is my therapist. This really is where I air out a lot of the junk inside my head.

      I appreciate your kind words. Maybe I am tired, but what is HIMYM? Is that How I Met Your Mother?

  4. Barbara February 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Jack,
    Good feeling around this post, wonder what has happened to you? You will always be the caring and questioning father, loved the way you offer your children to climb on your shoulders for a better view. Yeah, you cannot do more for them or less, they will love you for that attitude.
    Great Post, thanks!

  5. Bruce Sallan February 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Smart dads, like YOU, reach out to others for help and guidance vs. retaining our usual manly attitude of I can do it alone…

    Men need other men…I say it often, I’ll say it again!

  6. Mark February 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Some great advice for all kids and adults to follow Jack;

    “Get rid of the dead weight and focus on the people/places/things that help you love and live.”

    Cheers to truth!

    • Jack February 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Hi Mark,

      It is a bit of a struggle for me sometimes to lose that dead weight but it feels so much better when I don’t have to carry it and the rest of my own crap around.

  7. Hajra February 13, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Aren’t you a lovely dad! I wonder why you worry about being a better father; you are doing an awesome job already! I hope your children read this and feel so much more proud of their daddy dearest!

    • Jack February 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Hi Hajra,

      In my world every good parent worries about their parenting. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we believe that we are bad, but we can always do better.

      You don’t want to screw up your kids and sometimes you make mistakes that just kill you.

  8. Stan Faryna February 13, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Your Bily Idol was playing but I was hearing Blues Brothers in your words. Rawhide, specifically.

  9. Lori Gosselin February 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Hi Jack! I love this, and particularly this:

    “So children climb on my back if you need to and just hold on because sometimes daddies don’t bother asking for directions or try looking for a path. I am a traveler through life and so are you.”

    Your kids are lucky to have you for their dad!

  10. Elena Patrice February 13, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Love coming to your place Jack … such worthy words here … thank you. *big sigh*

  11. Bill Dorman February 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Jettison what is holding you back, even if it is the known and comfortable. You are a man on a mission; good luck in your journey.

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