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As I Get Older

As I get older I realize that I will never have another second of my life back. Death does not worry me. It is inevitable that my body should cease it’s function. What scares me is regret and the idea that the light from the candle of my life was dim instead of burning so bright as to illuminate the whole universe.

On Father’s Day

I do not need any congratulations for being a father. Neither and award or a sentimental ‘Happy Father’s Day’ are a pleasant sound to my ears. It is all so painful to see and hear. Because it is always a work on progress, fatherhood it is not something to be proud of. It is not an end product, but an ever evolving state of being.

Presently fathers do not spend enough time with their children in order for the whole venture to be considered a job. What is accomplished in the miniscule amount of time that is alloted for fatherhood?

Jidu Krishnamurti, a 20th philosopher, had this to say over half-a-century ago:

I think we have to begin observing what actually is going on, the actual fact. We have children and we send them off to school as quickly as possible. We have our own private life independent of the children and we think we love our children and we have really very little relationship with our children. That’s the actual fact – no? So one wonders, as one sees not only in India and the East but also in the West, why we educate children at all. Is it merely to acquire knowledge so that they can earn a livelihood and therefore conform to the pattern of the society which the elder generation have established? Go on, you have to discuss this with me, please. The elder generation is responsible for the total mess the world is in. Right? Not only the parents but the grandparents and the great-great-great-great grandparents. And do we educate the children to conform to the pattern which the older generation have established? That’s one point. And actually what is going on in the world – the parents have very little time with their children. They have their offices, their factories, and the mother and the father have to earn more because the society, the expansive society: buy more and more and more. So the parents have very little time with their children and so they are sent off to schools as quickly as possible. These are all facts. And when they come home, the children, the parents are tired, and fortunately or unfortunately there is the television and the children are put in front of it and for god’s sake don’t bother me because I am tired. Right?

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…

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