The Silly Versus The Sublime

Thirty-five years ago there was no doubt in my mind that I could be Evel Knievel and play centerfield for The Los Angeles Dodgers.

It is one of the blessings bestowed upon you by childhood- knowledge that anything is possible. With a little imagination you could see yourself doing things that should have been impossible but weren’t because you just know that you could.

That knowledge and certainty is a big part of what got me into trouble a million different times but it is also what kept me from getting seriously injured. Every time my friends and I tried some kind of stunt we did so with the knowledge that if we weren’t scared nothing bad could happen to us.

Nik Wallenda brought a lot of that back to me. I watched him stroll across a rope stretched over Niagara Falls and remembered discussions with the guys about whether we would be willing to ride a barrel over the falls.

I remember thinking that if I packed a couple of pillows properly it wouldn’t hurt when the barrel hit the water. Fear was something that I didn’t associate with waterfalls. I wasn’t a big fan of the dark and that bigfoot robot character on The Six Million Dollar Man scared me, but not the falls.

The falls would be easy. Evel Knievel crashed a million times and he never stopped getting back on the bike so I figured it couldn’t  be that hard. Fall down and get back up. Keep walking and keep climbing.

Thirty-five years ago it never occurred to me that I would have mysterious aches and pains or that my body wouldn’t respond immediately to any and all requests. I never thought that one day I would look at pictures of myself in horror or look at the mirror and be irritated with what I saw. Vanity, thy name is Jack.

But I will add that I hold myself accountable for the current situation. I am not in the shape I want to be in because I like to eat more than I like to stop. I still exercise. I still move. I am in far better shape than many and worse than others.

It is up to me to fix the few issues and accept the things that I can’t change. Some of these mystery aches are from those days long ago and the ones that follow. You can’t put your body through all the pounding that I did and still do without receiving some sort of angry response.

Father’s Day

Three of the people I care most about are going to celebrate their first Father’s Day without their fathers. I am sorry for their losses and well aware of how lucky I am to still have my dad. I am also quite conscious of my responsibility to my own children.

When they ask me why I insist on trying to exercise and play ball as often as I do I tell them that it is because I love them and me.  I don’t want to be the guy who is old before his time. God willing I am going to die with of my faculties and without having lost the ability to take care of myself.

Of course that is one more reason why I need to stop burning the midnight oil every night. Four hours of sleep just isn’t enough anymore and given the coming changes it is time to start learning how to get to bed by midnight or earlier again.

Do Daddy Bloggers Get Paid?

My daughter wants to know if daddy bloggers get paid and says that if we do then the mommy bloggers should get paid too. When she tells me this I choke back a giggle. This is serious stuff to her and I can see she will be upset if she thinks I am not responding in kind.

I don’t know where she got this idea or what made her think about it but it is funny to me. I am guessing she heard one of a series of conversations I have had recently about how bloggers can generate income.

She tells me that a girl could walk across Niagara Falls just as easily as a boy could. I tell her she is right and she asks me if I will listen to her sing the new love song she wrote.

This love song business is new. She says that she isn’t writing them for boys and explains that she just likes writing. I nod my head. I understand the joy that writing brings.

And then she tells me that when she grows up she is going to be a singer, a mommy, a teacher and maybe a professional athlete. I ask her how she knows and she rolls her eyes.

“Dad, I can do anything I want to do.”

I smile and tell her she is absolutely right, except for one thing. She asks me what and I tell her that she can’t put out a campfire by peeing on it. Her eyes get wide and I can see her formulating an appropriate response, “boys are just ridiculous.”

“Yes, we are honey. But sometimes we have to mix in some fun with the serious.”

And now I have to say Happy Father’s Day. This father needs to go to sleep so that he can dream about jumping over 30 trucks or flying over the Snake River.

This is part of Yeah Write #62.

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Comments

  1. 50peach says:

    Your little girl has guts and gumption. Good for you, for raising her that way.

  2. mannahattamamma says:

    that walk is beautiful and chilling and astonishing.  did you see the movie “Man on a Wire,” about Philippe Petit’s walk between the World Trade Towers, when they were brand new? It’s stunning. Same idea. But I never, ever ever ever thought “hey, I could do that.” I can barely watch the movie…!

    •  @mannahattamamma I am not sure if I have seen it. I know his name and am familiar with the walk but I can’t remember how or why I know it. I tend to think it is from childhood but…
       
      I am a dreamer but also a doer. I am convinced that if I trained hard enough I could get to the point where I could do the walk, but I don’t think that I could do it now.
       
      My daredevil genes have been toned down because I don’t want to accidentally orphan my children and my youth is just far enough away for me to wonder “what if.”
       
      I don’t fear death but I do fear being paralyzed so between that and being concerned about the kids my desire to engage in certain activities remains as something I can dream about and I am good with that.

  3. The fantasies of youth are always exciting to hear about, though I don’t know anyone whose actually came true. 

  4. AmarilloKenja says:

    Oh to be young and completely bullet-proof again. Your post brings back great memories of childhood.

  5. I love your writing. I love what you wrote, especially about why you choose to exercise and stay healthy. Keep it up. Your children will notice. And they will appreciate it. 

    •  @TheDoseofReality Thank you, I appreciate your kind words.
      I am very serious about my exercise. My diet needs to be tweaked, but we are taking it step by step.
      I want my kids to see that this is important and though I may spend large chunks of time at the computer I make a point to be active.

  6. ha. love your daughters response.  boys ARE ridiculous sometimes 🙂

    •  @tara pohlkotte 
       
      No way, we are the center of the universe. Girls/women were born to serve us. I told her that once and she just laughed.
       
      It made me happy because I really was kidding and it was good to see that she has a strong sense of self already.

  7. I remember all those you mentioned and Evil Knievel was certainly the bomb back then. Back when there was only three TV stations and we all watched when he was trying to jump over something. Sounds like your a great dad.

    •  SouthMainMuse My kids asked me what we did with only three stations and I almost choked. I understand why they asked, but it was sort of funny.
       
      The seventies were fun but I am pretty confident that our kids will say that their childhood is cool too, at least I sure hope so.
       
      Being a dad is one of my favorite things to be. Thank you for visiting.

      •  @TheJackB  SouthMainMuse I do take comfort in that thought somewhat. That this craziness will seem normal and sane to them, when they are dealing with what their children are exposed to. help.

        •  SouthMainMuse I really believe that to be so. When we look back on our childhoods I am sure we can find lots of examples of things that were sort of crazy, but as kids we never recognized that or saw it as such.

  8. mariaguido says:

    @TheJackB Yes, totally my first child. I guess it’s pretty obvious.

    • TheJackB says:

      @mariaguido No worries. We have been there. Takes a bit of time to get used to some of this parenting stuff.

  9. mayorgiac says:

    Haha – that niagra falls walk was crazy. Good for you for trying to stay healthy – it’ll pay off for sure.

  10. CarrieSieffert says:

    LOL. It is true, peeing on a campfire woud be nearly impossible (maybe with some hip thrusts it might be possible to pee on a fire but certainly not possible to put it out!) Ahahahaha. Great post Jack!

  11. Very cool post. “Vanity, thy name is jack.” priceless.  Love it.

    •  @The Outlaw Mama Thank you. Sadly I must own up to spending more than a couple of moments looking at myself in the mirror while wondering what the hell happened. 😉
       
      Ok, I know what happened and most of it was all kinds of fun.

  12. christineorgan says:

    I love the optimism and fearlessness of youth. Even though I was a rather timid child, I was optimistic about what the future could hold.

    •  @christineorgan There is something magical about that feeling of all things being possible. I want it back- I have recaptured some of it, but not all.

  13. I was a fearless child and a really fearless teenager, but I am a total pansy adult.  I was watching my toddler at the park the other day, and he was being so careful about every step.  I hope my adult paranoia isn’t rubbing off on him.  God, I really want to be the Mom that can sit back and let her child learn the things he needs to learn without constantly stopping him out of fear he will get hurt.
     
    Your daughter is awesome.

    •  mariaguido 
      Is he your first child? I was much more nervous with my first than my second. But even with my oldest it got easier over time to watch him navigate through and around the various “challenges” of the playground.
       
      My daughter has always watched her big brother do things and then decided that if he could do it there wasn’t any reason she couldn’t. The kid is fearless and I love that.

  14. Jack,
     
    I am in my own slump and cannot exercise right now, plus about to have surgery, so I figure it’s pointless. Anyway, I just have to tell you the line near the end where your daughter said, “Dad, I can do anything I want to do,” chilled me to the bone. I want MY daughters to say that and feel that. I want to instill that within them. And the scary part is? I’m not sure that I am. I’m terrified I’m NOT.
     
    Confidence my come from within but it has to get there somehow from the beginning, from/with our parents? and….to this day, at age 35? I don’t believe that I can do anything I want to do. Which makes me sad mostly for my daughters b/c it likely means I haven’t been teaching them that THEY can.
     
    and as for aches and pains? I’m right there with you….oy!

    •  erinmargolin 
       
      Hi Erin,
       
      Thirty-five is young. I can say that because I am 43. Flip through the comments here and you’ll find people who tell me that 43 is young. Age really is relative.
       
      There are some things that I can’t do as well or as easily as before. I am not necessarily convinced that it has to be that way. Some of that is because I haven’t adapted and adjusted my exercise regimen to account for certain changes.
       
      But I am working on it.
       
      I am not convinced that confidence has to come from birth. It can be acquired “along the way” just as it can be lost along the way.
       
      The point is that there is nothing saying that whatever level of confidence you have now has to be where you are at forever. It can be raised and increased. We all have moments where we wonder.
       
      And our kids are almost always more resilient than we recognize.  I am not convinced that your daughters don’t see the world as being filled with endless possibilities.

  15. TheJackB says:

    @shonali Thank you. How is your Monday going?

  16. rdopping says:

    Jack, hope you enjoy/enjoyed your day (depending on when you read this). Take a day off, enjoy your kids and put out that campfire. hilarious.
     
    Aches and pains huh? Yep. Feeling a bit melancholy today. I spent a bit of time with my dad. We had a great time watching Germany beat Denmark in the Euro Cup game but I don’t see him much anymore and the look he gives me when we part tugs at the heart. I know he’ll be around but the time together needs to be cherished now and always.
     
    Thanks Jack. Nicely written.

    •  @rdopping Hi Ralph.
       
      You have the right idea and attitude. My dad is great, sometimes a great pain in my butt, but still great.
       
      So many of my friends have lost their fathers it has made it easier to appreciate mine more, not that I didn’t before. But at my age I am shocked by how many of my friends are orphans.
       
      Anyhoo, my day was great. It sounds like yours was too. Hope they pave the way for a great week.

  17. Like @bdorman264 , I like the campfire story, and your daughter’s response. And since I’ve spent many wonderful times in Niagara Falls, I was captivated by Wallenda’s walk. It seemed surreal. He was so calm, able even to answer interview questions during the walk. Now that’s the kind of mental set that everyone should possess. The ability to focus clearly, despite obstacles and challenges, and enjoy the ride…or in this case, the walk.Happy Father’s Day:) Cheers! Kaarina

    •  @KDillabough  @bdorman264 My daughter was so funny. She asked me several times if I was serious and then “died” when I said that I have done it more than a few times.
      I saw her trying to figure out how it works but I wasn’t going to offer any explanation at all. 😉
       
      Niagara Falls really is beautiful. I have been two or three times and always loved it. Wallenda amazed me too with how calm and clearheaded he was. If you can have that kind of focus there is nothing you can’t do.
       
      Hope you had a great weekend.

      •  @TheJackB  @bdorman264 It was great! Ran my 5K both mornings, picked strawberries (luscious, beautiful), wandered a garden centre then spent several hours shovelling stone dust to create the base for a new shed in our backyard. I was focused:) Strawberry photo will be on fb today. Cheers! Kaarina

  18. I love the campfire story response.
     
    Tell me about the aches and pains; mercy……….
     
    I’m still waiting for the call up for either baseball or football, I’m not that picky so I will do either. 

  19. Happy Father’s Day, Jack!
    I remember how I felt when I told my dad that I wanted to get a motorcycle. I was probably 12. We were driving. He said, “Really, Bets?!” He didn’t criticize or warn of dangers. He just laughed. I think the thought of it scared him to death! He always knew how to say a lot with very few words. Mostly he conveyed support. He always has. Dads are powerful that way. They can make or break your enthusiasm for adventure.
    I also remember the first taste I got of guy humor when my dad was joking about how insignificant a brush fire had been that called out the towns fire department. “They could’ve called me and I could’ve peed on it!” I said to myself, “He just said that, Didn’t he?” I knew at that moment that guys live in a different world when girls aren’t around. I think I was about 10.
    Have fun with the kids today!
     
     

    •  @CrossBetsy Hi Betsy,
       
      Thank you!  Some parents are really good about sending a message with few words. I often think about what I will do when my kids say they want to do something I really don’t want them to do.
       
      They are young enough now that a look or a few words is a good deterrent, but when they get a bit older I am “concerned” that they will do somethings anyway. I did and I expect so did most of us.
       
      But there are certain things that worry me more. I sometimes think that a response like your fathers might be best.
       
      Thank you for the good wishes. Was a good day, hope you and yours had one too.

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