Do What You Were Born To Do
I am struggling right now. The internal editor is really kicking my ass. I have written more than ten thousand words today and only published a tiny percentage. That is because I didn’t like most of what I wrote. It bothered me. It embarrassed me.
I looked at that mess of a story called A Work In Progress and shuddered because it felt so awful that I wanted to tear it up and get rid of it. Obviously I didn’t do that.
There is a”post” that I wrote contained just below this sentence. I didn’t like it and decided that it was too long. I was about to delete it when I decided that I was rushing to judgment so I placed it in blockquotes and wrote these few words about it. Perhaps I shall feel differently about it all in the morning, sometimes sunlight has an amazing restorative affect upon the soul.
My son asked me to tell him what it means to do what you were born to do and I smiled. Smiled because I love these conversations with him. Love the trust and the faith he has in me and do me best to turn them into teaching moments without being obvious about it.
Won’t be long before he stops seeing me as Superman and recognizes that the wizard is just a man hiding behind a curtain. I smile and wonder if the day will come when I confess that I am a walking contradiction who wonders if he’ll ever figure it out and knows that one day I will have what I want.
My father worked for the same employer for 38 years. I have never seen any one work harder than he did. That is almost a cliche, but it is true. Damn guy set a standard that used to make me crazy because I couldn’t match it. I couldn’t live up to it. I was fired. Dad never was. I was let go. Dad never was. They told me that my services weren’t good enough to keep me around. That never happened to dad.
And then dad almost died. The man didn’t do a good job of taking care of himself and had a major heart attack.Â He was 3,000 miles from home when it happened. Mom called and told me that she was taking him to the emergency room. She put him on the phone with me and he was incoherent. That never happened. I had never seen my father mentally incapacitated, tired maybe but never drunk.
He always knew what was going on, but not that day. My BIL is a doc. He told me that if I wanted to see my father again I needed to get on a plane. So I did. Spent six hours of flight time wondering what I would do if he died while I was in the air. He didn’t, but by the time I got to him he was on a ventilator and unconscious.
Flew home a week later and spent another six hours wondering if he was dead or alive. Walked into my house and hugged my son, grabbed my pregnant wife and spoke to her belly. I promised that baby that I had done all that I could to ensure their grandfather would be around to meet them.
He was. Dad had a triple bypass two days before my daughter was born. It is fair to say that I won’t forget that time of my life.
Do What You Were Born To Do
That experience is what made me realize that blogging could be something more. Six months of crazy times helped me begin to remember that writing was something I loved. I had stopped. I had forgotten. The fire hadn’t gone out, but the flames were flickering and there was barely enough heat to keep me warm.
It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up and realize that writing was what I wanted to do. I didn’t open my eyes and dedicate my life to becoming the next great wordsmith. I kept doing the other things I was doing. I focused on money. I focused on trying to make enough to maintain a certain lifestyle. I did what dad had done, I supported all of us.
I was the sole breadwinner and I couldn’t see an alternative. My kids deserved to have a stay at home mom. I did it because I thought it was right and because it was what I knew. I did it because I was trying to live up to the standard that he set. Things happened, some of them were outside of my control and some of them weren’t.
Ultimately it didn’t matter because the whole fucking thing collapsed around me. I didn’t dance in the fire because I like drama I danced because I had no choice. It was dance or burn. I danced and wondered what I had done because I couldn’t accept anything other than blame. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t all my fault because I held myself accountable.
And I punished myself, not physically because that is too easy. Physical pain goes away but mental anguish isn’t so easily extinguished. If you want to really hurt someone take what they love, break it and then let the wind blow the pieces every which way. Watch them try to figure out what to do afterwards.
I haven’t done it yet. I haven’t looked in the mirror and forgiven that guy that looks at me, not yet. I have promised to do so but only after he figures some of this stuff out. I keep turning up the heat and pushing harder. Keep reminding that guy that he is too smart and has too much ability to blow it all. Keep telling him that he can rest later and that the stomach aches are only there because he hasn’t gotten it done. The head aches will go when he stops clenching his jaw so tightly.
It reminds me a bit of a seen in The Avengers when they ask Bruce Banner what his secret is and he says that “he is always angry.” I get it. I know it. I am too, but the exercise keeps my pulse at a rate that makes the docs happy.
But there is a part and a piece that says it is a foolish game. Let your ego rest. Say sorry and acknowledge that it can’t all be done and what can be done will but only given time.
In July it will be eight years since dad’s heart surgery. He is healthy but only in a relative sense. He hasn’t ever been quite the same. Some changes would be normal for man just shy of 70 but not all. And what concerns me is that he has slipped up and is doing a lousy job of taking care of himself.
But I know what can happen so I sit him down and tell him that I remember what it was like to see him on the verge of death. I tell him that his grandchildren deserve better and that my mother deserves to have him around. I tell him that I expect him to be around and that after more than 40 years of training he has learned a few things.
He promises to do better but I am not satisfied. I don’t ride him about it because I can’t make him do better. I can’t make him change and I don’t want him to to tune me out. But I look at him and wonder. The docs told us that he should have died. They said that my grandfather, his father should have died earlier than he did. They tell dad that he and grandpa are proof that force of will and the desire to live can have a positive impact upon how long we live.
Do What You Were Born To Do
My son asks me what I was born to do and I tell him that it was to be his father. He gets distracted by school stuff so our conversation takes a different tack. That night I lie in bed and think about it and wonder if it is one thing or a series of things that we are born to do.
I stare out at the dark ceiling and decide that I have to write. I have to figure out how to make enough from it to make it what I do. I think about dad and tell myself that I need to hold myself to similar standards. I am not in horrible shape but it could be better.
I need to figure it out. I work on it. I look for more opportunities. More nights pass and I stare at the ceiling again. Some times I feel like I can’t do anything else any more and sometimes I feel a sense of calm and purpose that I haven’t had in years. I’ll get there. I’ll do what I was born to do.