Posted by: 1of10boyz | June 21, 2015

Lessons From My Father

Happy Father’s Day to the men of the world, may you find the joy that comes from having a loving family around you, may you create a family that loves you and wants to have you around them.

Reflecting on my life I feel very blessed as a father and as a son. As a father I have been blessed by children and grandchildren that love me for who I am although they may find me to be a stranger as I have lived these past 4 years in China more than 8000 miles from where they live. As a son I have been blessed to have a father in my life that I knew loved me unconditionally and that no matter how far away I have wandered I could always go home.

I am more than likely on the downhill slope of my life, over the hill as the saying goes; an interesting perspective that really snuck up on me recently. I still look in the mirror and believe that my hair hasn’t receded, it is not thin on the top, and the grey that I see is just caused by a bad angle from the light. Reality is that I am going to be 52 and I am old and my pictures certainly tell the truth much better than my own biased perspective of what I see in mirrors.

I have been fortunate in my life to have had a father who tried hard to set an example for me to follow. I have watched him grow old and have often looked back at my life experiences to compare how I am doing as a father to the example he set for me. I have reflected back to the days when he was in his 30s raising a house full of kids and compared my experiences as a father with a house not nearly as full. I have measured my performance over the past 35-40 years against his. I have done similar comparisons as I entered my 40s and now my 50s. In those periods of reflection I have made several observations that I think are worth sharing.

These observations are mine and the lesson I learned probably says more about me than they do about my father. So here is my list:

Believe in yourself
I was taught to believe I could do anything I wanted. Reflecting back on my youth I never doubted that I could do anything I set my mind to do. I did many things as a boy and youth because my father believed I could and gave me the chance to try. Sure I failed miserably in many of those first and second and even third or fourth attempts but I never got to give up. If I started it then I got to finish it, often over and over again until it was right. Sure there were times when I had to be made to keep doing it but I did finally get it done and it was done well enough that it didn’t have to be done again. If you believe in yourself, why care what anybody else thinks.

Work like it matters
The circumstances of my living in Wyoming as a kid are unique. I look at many of the things I did as a kid with the rose colored glasses of age. I no longer remember the bad things of life with the angst that I likely felt at the time. Time seems to have tempered my recollections. I worked hard as a kid, but I learned to work. I learned to appreciate a hard day’s labor and the reward that comes with the related effort. In some cases that reward was something I could put in my pocket and other times it was being able to turn around look at something that I did myself or with my brothers and father and feel pride. Pride knowing that where there was nothing before there was now something. Pride in looking at something and being able to know that others would see this and never know it was just a couple of kids that did it and not adults. A critical lesson that when doing something do it like you are doing it for yourself, and don’t accept anything but your very best effort.

Accept change
Nothing stays the same and there often isn’t anything you or anyone else can do about it. People come into and out of our lives with regularity. In some cases we will want them to stay longer and others we will want them to leave sooner. There is something to learn from each of those experiences. Recognize that life is short and that we need to enjoy the moments of life that make us happy. There really isn’t much we can do when changes happen around us but we can control how we react to that change. Make sure to enjoy moments in your life because when time is gone there is nothing that can be done to bring it back or to change the way it was.

Do the right thing
There will times in life where it is hard to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is important and there is really no reason not to do the right thing if you know it is right. There is value in doing the right thing even for the wrong reason if it really is the right thing. Setting the example of doing the right thing is never a bad thing. Even when we don’t want to do the right thing, do the right things until you feel like you want to do it. Do the right things until you understand why they are the right things and you no longer have a question about why it is right.

Growth will happen
Life moves at a frantic pace and if you are not growing then you are dying. Recognize that with change come opportunities to redefine who you are. Failing to grow and progress will affect you and those you love. The attitudes, habits, and desires of boyhood, youth, and the uphill side of life are not going to make you happy on the downhill side of life if you don’t grow and increase your capacity to do. Modifying desires, behaviors, skills, and attitudes is needed so that life lessons are incorporated and used to make you into something you never imagined possible. Grow with your responsibilities as a father, a husband, and as a grandfather; don’t get stuck in a rut of life where you believe you can just keep doing things they way they have always been done. Growing through life is going to make life all that more bearable.

This life is the time for men to prepare and perform. This moral existence is but a brief moment in the existence of who we are and what we will become. Do not lose sight of the purpose of these experiences we call life. There is more to our life and purpose than the fragile mortal existence that the few years of time we spend on this blue-green plant in the midst of the Milky Way Galaxy. There is a much grander plan to what we are involved with than we can comprehend using or limited capacity and capability during this mortal existence. The preparations we make in this life and the performance of certain requirements is more important than any of the other lessons I have learned. Believing requires actions, there are actions that support belief and it can’t be something that is just talked about, there are things that must be done. Believing means doing.

As I reflect on my life and the lessons I have learned from my father I know there are opportunities for improvement. My hope and prayer is that my children can take my flawed example of living and improve. I hope that they can see where I made my mistakes and correct their path in life to avoid those problems that I created by the decisions in my life. I think that is the wish of every father that their progeny can learn from their mistakes and live a better life because of the example that they set. I believe that that is my father’s wish and I keep trying to learn and implement as best that I can. I watch my kids and hope that they are doing the same.

Thanks Dad for lessons that have mattered and for an example that I still try to follow. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make mistakes, to try to correct the results caused by those mistakes and ultimately to learn from mistakes. I can reflect now on my life and see where those mistakes have helped me learn and to grow. Thanks for showing me that I still have much to learn.

I will keep trying.

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