Life Doesn’t Have To Make Sense

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eighty-five pounds of 11 year-old boy comes at me full bore. He is in the moment and I couldn’t be prouder. Fearless and confident that this will be the time that he pins his old man he jumps off the couch and flies through the air, half superboy, half human missile.

I catch him mid air and use his momentum to send him into the opposite couch. He is laughing and so am I. I am amazed at how big and strong he has gotten and I wonder if he will grow like I did. If so it is just a matter of time before his size and strength make him into much more formidable opponent than now.

He doesn’t realize yet how much effort was required to catch and spin him so that he didn’t get hurt. Part of me is amazed/pleased that he still sees me as being superman and part of me is thankful that I started lifting weights more seriously again.


Just as I am about to walk away I see him glance and then I hear the footsteps coming from behind me. I don’t have time to much more than prepare for the collision that is coming, 11 year-old boy on one side and 7.75 year-old girl on the other.

For a moment these two monsters have decided to work together to try and take me down. I hear my daughter yell, “Super Erika” but I don’t see her. That is because I am too busy trying to keep her brother from sliding off of my shoulder. I don’t want him to go face first into the ground.

It reminds me of my days as a camp counselor when the 14 and 15 year-old boys would take us on. It was always in good fun but they didn’t get the same benefits as my children. I was 19 or 20 years-old and feeling my oats. I loved having four or five of those kids try to take me down. Sometimes I would take the football and run right up the middle and they would go down like bowling pins.

Now I look back and am grateful/thankful that no one ever got hurt. We were lucky.

My daughter brought a friend home from school today and I heard them singing this song. It wasn’t the only one they sang because there were lots of others but this one grabbed me because one day she’ll learn what it means to be heart broken. One day some boy will hurt her and I’ll have to stay away from him because I am her father and I’ll want to shake him so hard his teeth rattle.

Or maybe not. Hard to say for certain exactly what I’ll do, other than do my best to help her understand that life doesn’t have to make sense and that we are all on a journey.

It is not easy to accept that things don’t make sense. Not easy to try to wrap our heads around some things. My son heard about the brutal shooting in France. He doesn’t know all of the details. He doesn’t know that mother watched a man chase her 7 year-old daughter into the school. He doesn’t know that the man grabbed the girl by her hair and then shot her in the head.

He doesn’t know that her mother saw this happen in front of her.

It makes me want to tear my hair out and scream. This poor girl is/was essentially the same age as my daughter. The girl who spent part of the afternoon singing silly songs with a friend and talking about dolls, babies and weddings is safe. I thank God for that but I don’t forget that a terrorist destroyed a world.

My son asked me about what happened. He wanted to know if it was like Martin Luther King. He thinks that the man might have been sick. I don’t want to tell him that I think he was sane. I don’t want to tell him that I think the murderers who are responsible for the incredibly disturbing bloodshed in this video were sane.

What Do I Say/What I Said

We talked about people and I reiterated that we judge people based upon their actions and nothing more. I didn’t tell him the stories that his great grandparents passed along because that wasn’t necessary, not yet, not now. But the day is coming.

I did tell him that some people hate others for stupid reasons and that we don’t have to give legitimacy to those reasons. I told him that stupid reasons don’t mean that we don’t protect ourselves and that if someone threatens us we pay attention and determine if it requires a response. I told him that I wasn’t worried about him or his sister getting hurt that way.

It is mostly true. Statistically speaking there is a better chance of getting hit by a bus or killed in an automobile accident. I worry about the man/woman/teenager who is texting while they drive or the person who had one drink too many.

There are different ways to approach all this. I do my best to try to be grateful for all that I have. I do my best to be thankful for those who have helped to keep my family and I safe. It is part of why I try to thank our soldiers for their service. We didn’t get all this solely by dumb luck.  This isn’t a speech where I’ll tell you why I think America is the greatest country ever and all the others suck.

That is not the point. If anything it is my reminder to myself that life doesn’t have to make sense, even though I wish it would. Bad things aren’t going to to stop happening just because I wish it were so. Nor am I am going to try and convince you that I forgive the terrorist who did this.

I hope he died in pain, feeling alone and terrified. I hope that wherever he is he is reaping what he has sown.

Mostly I am just decompressing because trying to explain to your children why some people murder others is hard. Because when the conversation comes up I can’t lie and say that our family hasn’t been touched because it has.

But my choice is to take a positive approach and that is what I teach my children. The glass is half full, even if it sometimes feels otherwise.

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  1. Born25 April 3, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Jack, you have a very inspiring post here. And I love you for that. Being true to our self is really hard to accept, much even more to others. But accepting our mistakes and weaknesses can give us more brighter and happy life.
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

  2. Karyn18 April 1, 2012 at 4:45 am

    We just can’t predict life. But no matter what circumstances waits ahead, God knows we can make it. God might not give everything we want, but he never failed us to give what we need. In God’s hand, we’ll be fine. ALL IS WELL.

  3. PrudenceLee March 26, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Hey Jack, great post here! I love your thoughts regarding how to teach and discipline your children. Being in a positive side can help you to bring up your children in a very descent and proper way,

  4. Stan Faryna March 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

    A powerful blog post, Jack. You’re hitting one-two-three. Reminds me of Real Steel.

    Adele is amazing and it’s awesome that her voice and words can succeed without her having to have Playmate dimensions. She is a beautiful woman and a wonderful gift to us.

    Violence seems to be ever more epidemic. Next week or next month or next year, it will be epidemic again- I fear. Epidemic means that it substantially exceeds our experience and expectation of it.

    What’s worse is that we crave it in ever more epidemic proportion – if even in the safety of entertainment: music, books, movies.

    The ever increasing rise and want of violence suggests that we all live less through Hope and more through our despair. Satisfaction, we will think, is a sweeter substitute for the patient pursuit of dignity and happiness – but not really.

    Supposedly, half of annual child deaths occur on the African continent. In 2008, Unicef estimated five million deaths of children under the age of five per year in Africa with a world annual total of ten million. I imagine the real total, however, is double. Because Statisticians are always tying to make things appear better than they are.

    My glass is empty and shattered into a million pieces when I allow myself to feel the weight of our collective meh. I’m guilty as hell too. And I am ashamed that I do nothing to change the world for the better. I think to myself, there’s monsters out there. But, asdf! I live with a monster. That monster is me…

    • Jack March 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      Hi Stan,

      I like your definition of epidemic:

      Epidemic means that it substantially exceeds our experience and expectation of it.

      At first glance it sounds imprecise but when we take a harder look it is the exact opposite of it.

      Africa is a continent that can break your heart- so much violence and so little hope in so many places.

      We are all monsters in our way but we all have the capacity to be angels.

      I don’t believe that we always have to be one or the other. I think that we have the choice and ability to take on a persona.

      The question is how often we choose to help versus ignore.

  5. Kaarina Dillabough March 23, 2012 at 5:55 am

    Yes Jack, the glass IS half full, even when it doesn’t appear to be so.

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