On my father

Oftentimes my mind dwells on the past. I know. I know that it is useless,but I can’t help but to think, to wish that things had turned out differently. I wish that my dad and I had meaningful conversations on the meaning of life. Wish we’d engage in philosophical debates. Wish that we could have discussed… substantial things.

My father and I had bonded through our common interest in sports, more specifically basketball. On school days I would often stay up late in order to watch the late night West-Coast NBA games. He took me to a couple of (New Jersey) Nets games while I was in high school. I reciprocated once I started working. During my first year of college I moved out. Afterwards, such a long-distance relationships was strenuous at best.

Is it the age difference? I am the first child of a second marriage for both of my parents. My dad was 37 when I was born. The year he turned five-years-old Joseph Stalin had died. When I turned 5 the first McDonald’s opened up in Moscow.

[Stalin died in 1953]

[1990 was the year that the first McDonald’s opened up behind the Iron Curtain]

You are certain to find flaws while looking at the facts of the past. More flaws than one cares to admit while gazing at the reflection in the mirror.

I have many regrets. But, I’m learning to let go of the past and to embrace the now. There are things that I’m certainly thankful for: the Glen Miller Orchestra, the Barry Sisters and Chubby Checker. There were bed-time stories of Odysseus triumphing over the Cyclops. I have ways admired him for his breadth of knowledge and maybe I have him to thank for sparking my curiosity. My dad was there each and every basketball game. He was even my coach for a while.

He isn’t perfect. He is my dad. I am what I am because he is who he is. The good, the bad, as we as the annoying habits that I picked up from him.

Some say that we do not chose our parents. On the contrary, maybe between our past life and this one we are indeed given a choice as to the type of lesson that we would like to lean in this lifetime, as well as chose the teacher that will will impart that knowledge.

I won’t complain about my life. Many can only dream about the life I live. Many would envy my ‘problems‘. I am lucky. I know that. My father isn’t perfect. Neither am I. Perfection could be a nice place to live in, but the residents can get pretty boring. My father isn’t perfect. Neither am I. I will enjoy the sights on the way there. And it looks like I have many places to visit along the way.

For the longest time I’ve had a delusional image of what an ideal parent should be: a parent had to be perfect in order to raise a infant into a well-adjusted adult. Say the right things. Do the right things. But what is a perfect parent anyway?!? There is no such thing! There is only progress toward the realization of your potential as a human being. Whether that is through being compassionate, operating with a sense of justice or any other life-philosophy.

Perfection could just be a theoretical state, as far as an individual is concerned. Just a carrot hanging just out of reach. Never meant for us to taste. There to keep us moving forward. There is no such thing as perfect. There is only incremental improvement. This is how humanity will progress towards self-actualization: our forefathers build the foundation and it is up to the next generation to add on. It won’t be perfect. We will not have a chance to fix the mistakes of our fathers. We can surely learn from them. It would be foolish to ignore their wisdom.

On Anxiety

What do you see when you look in the mirror? What about in the eyes of a stranger?

Envy?

Anger?

Disappointment?

Desperation?

Happiness?

Anxiety?

Anything at all?

To share one’s sorrows, fears and anxieties – the cathartic experience that relieves one’s burden is truly magnificent.

When a storm is brewing inside us we become oblivious to the struggles of others – even those of our closest friends and family. The struggle, however, does not simply dissappear after the release of pent-up emotions. The inner reservoir of dispair is again begging to be filled.

The voice inside our head, a radar operator on the lookout for blips of all eventual potentialities, try as we might to turn it off, refuses to turn off.

To have someone to confide in, an opportunity to unload the burden that one carries is a rare blessing. In sharing our anxieties we are not always looking for a solution to our troubles. In sharing we find relief for the strain of the yoke that life has fastened around our neck. Some, not all, come to realize that the yoke is a self imposed burden. Others carry the weight proudly.

Straining under the weight of the burder we fail to notice the struggle in the eyes of our brothers and sisters. We fail to see their yoke. They, just as you, are struggling with anxieties, fears and insecurities.

To be continued…

Struggle is mandatory. Suffering is optional.

Struggle is mandatory. Suffering is optional.

You have get uncomfortable. You have to be uncomfortable. You will be uncomfortable.

To live is to not want to suffer. To live is to suffer. You will suffer.

Control what is in your hands and leave the rest to faith. We are not meant to foresee all the variables and possibilities. Why stress?

Responsibility – here is an interesting word – nagging discomfort due to thinking that you can control what happens to a particular thing. Thus, discomfort = responsibility.

Comfort is momentary. We bounce around, wall to wall, like a pinball, seeking that high score of comfort. No chance.

Thus, if you are alive then be at peace with being uncomfortable. Know that such discomforting thoughts are not optional. Why stress?

School = discomfort

Bills = discomfort

Life = struggle

If life is struggle then struggle is life. That is where you find the meaning for your existence. In running away from struggle your are running away from yourself.

You find yourself through struggle.

A sword will never be forged if the metal does not experience the pain of being hit by the blacksmith’s hammer.

Your happiness is elevated by the pain you’ve been through. Your suffering makes you appreciate the happiness and beauty with greater intensity.

Freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire… – Epictetus

 

To desire is not freedom.
To want is not freedom.
To crave is not freedom.

Where is freedom?

It is in the negation of desire, want and craving. To desperately seek something is to be possessed by it. If one desires then certainly one will languish if unable to satisfy the craving. It’s not outside the real of possibility to desire a thing but never be able to acquire it. Eternal misery, is it not?

What is the remedy then? Realize that desire is prison. Realize that life is desire. Cravings that are satiated one moment will undoubtedly return. Thus, to crave things is to be indefinitely miserable.

Life is like a boat-ride across a river that one navigates on a small raft. With limited space on your ship you have to be mindful of what is useful and what is excess. Keep your baggage light for fear of risking taking on too much baggage to cause your raft to sink. Necessity over excess.

Freedom is not achieved
by satisfying desire,
but by eliminating it.
– Epictetus

​Remember, it is not enough to be hit or insulted to be harmed, you must believe that you are being harmed. If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Whichis whyit is essential that wenot respond impulsively to impressions; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it is easier to maintain control.