Tuesday, October 23, 2007


We need to have people that we're afraid to let down. I have that in my son. I know that there will always be someone on this planet who loves me. That is my anchor. Wives can leave. Sons who have been raised right never will. They accept their father's flaws, and smile at them. So it is with me. It's almost like I planned ahead. I didn't. Just blessed, without deserving it.

But you know that about me. I love my son, and he loves me. The point here is about planning. Specifically for the seemingly distant future. Old age, say. What would I ever have done, if I didn't have my son? Grow old, alone, no doubt. So when I think of the young fellas I roll with, unmarried and disinterested in starting a family, well, I know what's coming for them. They think they will always be young. I make my little jokes about being slow and achy. Maybe they don't believe me, because I don't look my age and I perform at a pretty good level.

You know why. They should too. Thirty years of really excellent diet, and 35 years of sensible exercise. Yeah. Planning ahead. As I've said, when I was in my 20s and 30s, people might have had the right to think I was just a fanatical vegetarian. Now I'm closing fast on 50, and the benefits are undeniable. The point, aside from me talking again about how wonderful and right I am, is that here is something I did plan about, and it really did pay off. When I'm genuinely old, I expect to have far fewer health problems than otherwise. No guarantees of course. No high tower is truly safe. But there is no excuse in this sad fact for not building high towers. We must require excellence of ourselves, in some things at least.

I say all this because I had a pleasant, long conversation with someone tonight. Mostly me doing the talking -- surprised? -- but that's okay too. I can listen. The fella wondered if there was some way he could get his parents to exercise. Well, we know how that goes. How is it possible to get anyone to do anything? Who do you know that has ever changed their lifestyle? Maybe stopped smoking. Maybe lost some weight. But you do know how rare that is. You know how hard it is for you. We all have those other things that need changing, and we haven't done it yet. And we're the special ones. I certainly don't have the answer. When I do, you can join my cult. It will, of course, be all about how wonderful I am. Oh. Maybe you're in my cult already. Send me money. And give me sex.

We want to make a difference. We want to do good. We want to bring comfort to those who are distressed, and blessings to those whom we see are turning in wrong directions. We want to share the beautiful things we have found, to share the wonder of it, to spread the joy of it. We would be fathers to the fatherless, friends to the friendless. We want to be known for who we are, and respected for it, or forgiven.

I've only intimated at the cause of the grief to which I only allude. I am circumspect. I never will be specific. Yes, I'm sure it would, under the right circumstances, be good for me. Not for publication, though. You see? None of this is intimacy. That is something you have to plan for. It must be prepared. Tilling, and planting, and nurturing, and harvesting. A long process, and costly. Sometimes there is blight. But cawing like crows will never do the job.

We open our hearts for a while, and connect after a manner of speaking with each other. Then we go our separate ways again.

Have I rambled?

That's what conversations do.



brent said...

I had a similar conversation with my pastor the other day. If God has the power to change us then why doesn't He do it? The answer that we seemed to come to was that it is in the long, costly process that we overcome and change. Intimacy is more than words but you need words along the way as well. The turning attention to another and giving them your thoughts and heart. A long process, and costly. But it is the field that holds the treasure in which we must sell all to purchase.

I spend a lot of time thinking how to make the investments now in order that my sons will grow up to be men. More than for my benefit but theirs. I would be a hermet in an attack somewhere when I am old if they could have full lifes in the future. That would be my return. How can my sons rise to the occasion if I don't? How can I expect my sons to defeat their demons if I don't defeat mine?

Jack H said...

Making sacrifices for the people we love is sort of easy. It's true for some of us. For some of us it's hard to love ourselves -- love in the sense of sacrificing the status quo, of risking the necessary changes. That's why it's so easy to preach, and so hard to convert. We sacrifice for our children that they may be stronger than we are. If it works, they will be strong enough to understand our weakness. It is a kind of cowardice, this self-sacrifice. It is the easier of choices, sometimes. There is the grace of salvation, and it's there for the asking. But the grace that would be the gift of strength to live our lives despite the anguish and futility that can come to us daily -- that isn't there for the asking. Wisdom comes as we pass through suffering over time. There it is -- my definition of life. But as I say, it's good to have someone we're afraid to let down. Otherwise we could just give up.


brent said...

I guess character and integrity is being afraid to let yourself down.

Jack H said...

-- doing the right thing when no one else is watching.