The Avengers, Hans Zimmer, Potential and Dad Bloggers

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Eighty some pounds of 11 year-old boy scream at me. “You love basketball, dad. You do. Not me.”

I look down and stare into his eyes. They are burning a hole in my head. I see fire. I see flames. I see passion. I want to just accept what he says and let go, but I see potential.

Unfulfilled potential. He can play this game that I love. He can start playing at a younger age and be better than I was. He can start playing and not be irritated when other boys play because he doesn’t think he is good enough.

That is the thing. He doesn’t think he is very good and he wants to be great. He wants to skip past the hard work to be great or to not to do it. It makes me a bit crazy. He is not lazy, but he doesn’t want to try.

Thor (Marvel Comics)

Thor (Marvel Comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Twenty-five minutes before this discussion we are seated in a theater in Chatsworth. We  are watching The Avengers and both of us are captivated by it. I love these moments.

We are here because it is the weekend before my birthday and this has become a ritual to him. Last year we saw Thor and now we are back again. I love it because it is father/son time and because there is a boy inside who remembers when these movies were a dream.

I remember being 11 and talking to other boys about a time when technology would make it possible to make these movies look real. Potential. You couldn’t make these movies then without us being able to see all the tricks. We wanted to see it happen but it couldn’t.

And then it could. Now. Realized potential.

Go Cap Go!

Captain America is on screen. He is doing his thing and I realize I have just muttered Go Cap Go in a much louder voice than I had intended. No one has noticed except me or so I think.

Eighty some pounds of boy tells me that he likes Captain America but that I should know he likes Iron Man better. What he is really saying is that he is his own man. I love it and I hate it.

I hate it because I see potential. He is better at basketball than he realizes. I have some skill but most of my success comes from outworking the other players. I play balls to the wall and come home aching, tired and bruised. You can’t play as I do forever.

He can learn how to become a better player than I ever was. He won’t have to rely upon being as physical as I am. More importantly I am convinced that if we will give the game a chance he will love it. In fact I am certain of it.

Hans Zimmer

Midnight has come and gone. I have watched chunks of the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction and the Kentucky Derby. Meant to get to the computer much earlier but The Beastie Boys and Guns’N’Roses performances held me up.

The music and the passion that I see there captivates me. There is a love for their art and I recognize that. I love it because it has given so much to me. I want to odo the same with my words.

So I turn on a Hans Zimmer mix and I start writing. My friend JR is going to run a brief interview with me and I have to answer the questions he sent me. My responses are a mix of the serious and insouciant guy you see here, but I still wish I sounded better

Probably should have started working on it when I wasn’t exhausted, but damn life has been busy. Still thrown by Adam Yauch dying and Junior Seau’s suicide. Contemporaries, that is what they are. Didn’t know either one of them but in some ways I feel like we grew up together so it is sort of strange and bizarre to see them go.

I think about whether I should redo my answers and decide that the best way to figure it out is to clear my mind. I stumble onto a post called The Business Letter/Email Signatures With Bonus Audio and smile. I still hate it when people use “Best” as part of their signature. What the hell is that supposed to mean.

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don’t have any answers. Part of the reason I write is to clear my head. I call myself a dad blogger because I write about being a father but I write about a lot of other things. I write about being a writer or should I say being a writer who earns his living by producing novels. Potential.

The tools are there. I have the skills and the ability. I need to live up to it and fill my potential. Part of my job is to help my kids live up to their potential but I don’t want to do that by bullying them into trying things they don’t want to do.

But I don’t want them to miss out because they don’t try either.

There are no easy answers here so it is time to turn off my mind and go to sleep. We had a good day. The movie was fantastic and we both loved it. I am glad he is asserting his independence.

He should be his own man. He needs to make his own mistakes but the question I ask is what do I need to do to help him reach his potential relative to playing ball.

Or do I just let it go and hope that one day he comes around. So many potential choices and so many potential outcomes.

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  1. May 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

    My 12 yrold looked at a music video a friend of hers made – totally professional and kind of mind blowingly good- and was clearly jealous of the girl singing lead. She said she didn’t like the girl and yet it was clear why. I wanted to shake her and say so just do it! because she has every bit as much talent and loves to sing, she just won’t put herself out there. Then of course I had to remind myself that she’s only 12, still has time, and is enough of a diva as is. Still I know how you feel. My son regrets not having gone further in basketball. In fact it’s his biggest regret.

    • Jack May 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Bridget,

      Well as my grandfather used to say, “you can’t screw an old head on young shoulders.” Sometimes they learn more when we take a hands off approach and let them figure it out. Not always easy, but…

  2. Lessons Of A Dad May 6, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I love the quote that you used at the start of this post. It’s a quote I use quite often, myself.

    I love going to the movies with my kids. We have fantastic time watching The Avengers as well. We can’t wait for Spidey…I dunno if they can handle the new versions of Bats yet.

    For the b-ball part, I think you’d really have to be there in the trenches with him. That way, his motivations are two fold: to get better, and (if he is lazy at least he’ll…) to spend quality time with dad.

    My dad was my first coach and primary tennis coach. I also wanted to be good, but I didn’t wanna work at it. Now, several medals and trophies later, I thank him for being there, egging my lazy ass on.

    • Jack May 6, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      I can’t wait for him to be big enough to play with me. I would love that. If he was willing I would go shoot baskets with him.

      If he grows like I did he’ll be big enough to really play with us in the not so distant future. I expect by the time he is around 14 or 15 he’ll be there. It is not next week but I fear it is coming sooner than I expect. Oy.

  3. Sandi Amorim May 6, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Potential is one of those words I think we can live without because it often does more damage than good. Disappointment looms whenever the word is used. I just watched Moneyball last week and Billy Beane, the main character, had so much potential as a ball player or so he was told repeatedly. When it didn’t turn out, everyone involved was disappointed.

    One of my clients, now in his 40’s, still deals with this disappointment after a lifetime trying to live up to – and failing – his father’s vision for him. “Ahh, but you have such potential.” his father repeated as a mantra for 40 years, each time shaking his head sadly.

    What if there’s no such thing as potential? What if there’s just what you do or don’t do?
    For me that opens up a blank space from which to create, rather than trying to write your story over top of something already in existence.

    • Jack May 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm

      Hi Sandi,

      You make some interesting points. I know what you mean and I can see the damage that it can do. Hell, unfulfilled potential has messed with my head for years.

      But part of me feels like my role as a father is to try to help my kids tap into these things and to chase down their potential so that they can see what they might become/do/feel/love…

      • Sandi Amorim May 7, 2012 at 6:29 am

        The joke is that we ALL have that same potential, but we don’t hear it like that. We hear it very personally, which then messes us up.

        Instead, what if we talked of giving and doing our best? If kids were encouraged to give their best, it’d be like giving them a blank canvas instead of giving them a future with the spectre of potential looming.

        • Jack May 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

          Do we really all have the same potential? Not trying to be adversarial, but in some areas I don’t think we do.

          • Sandi Amorim May 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

            Should have phrased it differently. I believe we do, not sure if I could prove that were true although I’ve heard many stories over the years that lead me to this belief!

            • Jack May 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm

              So here is the question.

              Michael Jordan and I are the same age and go to the same schools. Do I have the same potential to become a basketball legend?

            • Sandi Amorim May 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm

              Not the same potential for basketball, but the same potential to live a fulfilled and fully realized life. What that looks like though is individual.

  4. Art Pennom May 6, 2012 at 4:04 am


    Another thought provoker on something I think we all experience. I too fight this internal battle with myself about what to do in those situations. If there was only a way to let them see what basketball really means to you and why you love it, perhaps they’ll understand. But. Even if they ultimately do understand, we need to accept that they may not see it like we do. That’s OK. They will find their own passion. What you have shown them is how important finding a passion is. That’s what really matters.

    Like Julie’s thoughts on “Best”, I use it to “try” to convey the best of me and best wishes in a semi-personal way. Perhaps I should be clearer. I now see what it may leave someone hanging wondering what the following word is.

    Best wishes to you,

    Art Pennom

    • Jack May 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Hi Art,

      It ties into writing, basketball that is. It is a way for me to provide him with a glimpse into what makes his father tick and perhaps understand myself and him better. At least I think it is, maybe it isn’t.

      You keyed in on something that is important and that is passion. I want my children to find something that inspires them. I want them to enjoy and experience that sort of passion because it makes life much more colorful and interesting.

  5. Julie May 6, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I am going to The Avengers today with my Dad and my two boys, 4 and 7. I used to go to inappropriately adult movies with my Dad, now he does it with my kids. And since he only had a girl, he is probably glad he now has an enthusiastic audience for all things male.

    Keep your son going with basketball. It’s those things that we stick with in childhood that carry us through life. Otherwise when they go off on their own as adults they’ll look around and watch tv because they suddenly realize all of their structure is gone and they don’t know what to put there. So make sure.

    Funny, I only use “Best” for one occasion – sending emails from my blog business. That is because versions of “Regards” equals “Insurance days” and “Namaste” makes me cringe. Interestingly I noticed a resurgence of “Best” in people’s replies to me and others – starting a trend again. I am good at that – sorry! To me, “Best” has a crease of formality in a world without. It means, “I send my highest hope to you – the best part of me.”

    • Jack May 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Julie,

      It sounds like you and your father have some good stories. I bet there are more than a few.

      I won’t let basketball just fade but I am going to be cautious about how hard I push him I don’t want him to hate it because he sees me using it as a cudgel to beat him over the head with.

      Your explanation of best makes sense but I think many people use it in a different way. It is like asking “how are you” but not really caring about the answer.

  6. Stan Faryna May 6, 2012 at 2:05 am

    I’m reminded of Talk Talk’s song, It’s My Life


    Now and then, I wonder why we sometimes go about understanding ourselves by defining ourselves in contradiction or contrast to others – especially those closest to us.

    Will your son understand you? When you explain how you see it – how basketball is a game he should learn because it’s a game that can build and bind friendship. Because it’s a game that will “store” his feelings and memories of you, his relationship with you, your love for him, and his love for you. Like a photograph or a home video- but better.

    • Jack May 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm

      Hi Stan,

      He might understand it that way one day, but I don’t think he is there yet. Part of me wishes he was and part of me recognizes that there is a lot tied up in my wishes.

      Some of this comes from my relationship with my father. It was and is good but there was always a part of me that wanted to understand him better than I did. Sometimes I think basketball will help build that bond.

      But more than anything else I see it as something that my son will truly love. I see it as a way for him to develop relationships with some boys that he might not otherwise get along with.

      It is a tool for socialization. I think it can make his life easier and it is one more reason not to sit on the couch.

  7. Jens P. Berget May 6, 2012 at 1:23 am

    I don’t remember watching any movies with my dad. I love movies, but I don’t think we ever went to the movie theatre together. It wasn’t something he enjoyed.

    Today, I’ll be watching Avengers, not with my kids (they’re still too young), but with a friend. Yesterday my daughter asked me if she could watch Twilight on DVD, but I told her no. I might be old fashion, but Twilight is a bit scary for an 8-year old 🙂

    I really enjoy spending time together and enjoying similar things, and I enjoy the talks after.

    • Jack May 6, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      Hi Jens,

      I don’t remember seeing movies at the theater with just my dad. If we went it was with the entire family. Although I can say that for about 20 some years now he and I have rented movies together.

      You’ll have to tell me what you think of the movie. I really liked it. It was a lot of fun. And I have to agree that the conversations with the kids are great.

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