Friday Night Is Alright For Writing

1000 miles away

Two weeks or so until the Traveling Jack show goes on tour again.

Two more weeks until I hop on the plane to go back to where I have been before to explore the possibility of a future that is as of now unwritten.

Two more weeks or so until I remember first hand that you can never step into the same river twice.

Night Fall

I used to sit on my balcony and watch the sun slip away, a bottle of Shiner Bock in my hands and Ray Charles singing in my ears.

At first it felt foreign and strange and then one day I sat down and realized it was home.

Caught me by surprise and made me recognize I really wasn’t the man I had once been. I could see parts and pieces of the old floating around but there was a new face looking back at me in the mirror.

I liked them both, but the guy who I had become was far more interesting than who I had been.

The kids recognized some of the changes faster than anyone else and asked what it meant.

I told them that sometimes we run towards the future we are building and walk away from where we were.

They didn’t understand it the way I did nor did I expect them to, but I knew that I had done the right thing. Knew that I had walked through the waterfall and entered a new world because it was what was required.

That Is What Parents Do

When my son asked me why I told him sometimes we do what is required and sometimes we do what we think is right. I told him sometimes you can’t see if they are one and the same until you step through the door and see what is on the other side.

“Dad, why?”

“Because that is what parents do. We make decisions based upon limited information with the hope that it is going to help our families do better. We do it for a better life.”

“But what if it isn’t better?”

“But what if it is?”

He nodded his head and told me he didn’t like it, but said he thought he understood.

I didn’t tell him he couldn’t possibly understand the load I carried because he couldn’t and it wouldn’t help. There is no upside or benefit to it.

One day he might. One day he might be in a position and have some life experiences that enable him to see it from my perspective but I hope not.

Who We Were Meets Who We Become

I don’t need my children to ever go through the crap I have been through. It won’t change the past and it won’t make their lives any better.

The point and purpose of taking chances and making changes is to try and prevent some of those things from happening.

It is to set up a future where retirement might be something I can choose to do and not dream about.

Retirement.

That is a funny word to me.

Once it was something that old people did, a moment in time that was so far away I couldn’t imagine it.

That is not really true anymore because now I can imagine it.

My father retired in his fifties but I am going to be hard pressed to match or beat that. Part of me doesn’t care because unless I have a boatload of cash I am not going to want to retire for a while.

There are too many things I want to do and too many places I want to see. The trips and dreams of old Mr. Steiner are going to require some significant cash flow for a while.

The trips and dreams of old Mr. Steiner are going to require some significant cash flow for a while. I am happy to put off a fixed income for a bit longer to enjoy some of those things.

Ideally I’ll find a way to retire at an age where I am physically able and capable of doing some cool stuff. I am not dumb enough to think I have thought of every thing I want to try or do.

If I am not the same man I was twenty years ago why should I believe I won’t be different twenty years from now.

Speaking Of Changes

The baby of the family is about to leave elementary school and head off into the land of chaos known as middle school.

Hormones, puberty and drama lay dead ahead.

That girl of mine is hocking me about when she’ll be old enough to date and how soon her brother can start driving her around.

I tell her to slow down and enjoy life at her current age. I tell her she’ll be old soon enough and that all these things will come faster than she thinks.

She rolls her eyes at me and engages in a debate she will never win. I don’t tell her how proud I am of her because this is not the time.

Her arguments have become more sophisticated and more nuanced. She is so very smart, but praise has to come during a different talk, not this one.

Steiner the Minor decides to interject and his sister almost tears off his head.

I remind him to mind his own business and wonder how he could possibly be starting high school.

Dare To Be
Midnight comes and I burst into his room.

“Do I need to take your phone? This is unacceptable. It is a school night. Go to sleep.”

We go back and forth for a few moments and he tells me he can’t sleep because he is nervous about a few things.

I tell him I understand and then share the Teddy Roosevelt quote above.

“One day you’ll tell your grandchildren that your father did his best to master his fear of failure and everything else by being willing to take a chance. And you’ll tell them that part of why he did it was for his family and part was for himself because when the lights go out at night and you are alone with your thoughts you need peace of mind.

Better to try and fail than not try. My biggest regrets are always tied into when I let fear win. No more.”

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11 Comments

  1. The Imp May 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Parenting. Not for the weak of heart, or mind.

  2. Gary Mathews May 30, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Jack,
    Well spoken as usual, sounds like your kids are at the age were they know it all, and yes we were all that age at one time I love your style on “knocking” them down a peg when it needs to be done in a graceful manner. Plus opening with a NIN lyric awesome!

    • jacksteiner June 6, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Hi Gary,

      I could have sworn I responded before, my apologies. I am sure I knew it all at their age too. Every now and then we need to help remind them that certain experiences are universal and that we understand because we have been there.

  3. cathyjonest May 30, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Hi Jack.
    I don’t always respond to your posts, but find more often than not I am nodding in understanding at your words. I have failed many times in my life, and learned a lot. I see my children (much older than yours) making their own mistakes and learning those hard lessons. I didn’t prevent them making the mistakes with lessons from my own, but what I do see is that they learned coping skills, and how to gain insight. Those aha moments in life.

    Your posts resonate so much with me it is almost spooky. I guess maybe there are similarities we all face in life, and things we deal with, that have a common thread?

    • jacksteiner June 6, 2015 at 7:10 am

      Hi Cathy,

      I think some things have to be universal. If we went back 500. 1000 or 5000 years I think we would see certain behaviors and responses play out the same way we do now.

      Some things never really change, at least not the root or foundation of them. We are all just people trying to figure out how to live the best we can.

  4. Jens-Petter Berget May 30, 2015 at 3:27 am

    I keep time traveling when I read your posts. I remember what it was like growing up, and what it’s like trying to predict the future. We never know exactly what’s ahead, but we know that it’s better to do something than do nothing because we fear that we won’t make it.

    • jacksteiner June 6, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Hi Jens,

      I hadn’t thought of it as time traveling, but I like that. It is descriptive and I think accurate. Funny how things change and some don’t no matter how much time passes.

  5. glasgowdragonfly May 29, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    I have all this ahead of me with my little girl and yet it’s all behind me with my own father. It made me well up at your pride in watching her grow, her spirit, her tenacity. Can hear the soulful sounds you mention as I read this. Have a great weekend!

    • jacksteiner June 6, 2015 at 7:17 am

      It goes so quickly. One moment we are the little people who are experiencing all this and then we are the big ones trying to help our children. Simply remarkable.

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