Thursday, October 17, 2013

"It Just Is, I Guess"

I believe I would weep at the sight of an orchard full of blossoming Honeycrisp apple trees.

I think it is easy to loose our way, ours is a uniquely complicated journey, we will all get lost somewhere, we will all stall, we will all falter, we will all doubt, we will all fail. I'm okay with that.

So, when I realize that I had every intention of posting three times a week, and, well, it has been a week since I last posted here, what do I do? What do I tell myself?

Should I forgive myself? Sure, of course, that's what I'd teach the boys.

Should I cajole and sneer at myself for making a promise, a commitment, and giving up on it? Well, yeah, a little...

Should I hang my head in the shame I feel sometimes when my arrogance lets me forget that there is a plan for me, specifically, me? Most definitely.

Should I remind myself that I am doing the best I can? Yes, life's balancing act is a full-time position for me.

Should I be really honest with myself and confess to the fact that I got mixed up and started, once again, writing for you, dear readers, and not for you, dear boys? No, I think that is my struggle not yours.

Should I simply move on, figuring no one will really notice if I don't mention it? Yes, that'd be best...

Oh well.

I have been working on a transition around these parts, my tiny corner of the digital realm. I figure the time is coming when perhaps these stories will become too personal, too close, to revealing to continue in such a public manner. So, I've been trying to focus a little more on storytelling and less on commentary. Listen, I'm not really going to be able to change what I do here, but, do me a favor, if you ever think I am doing even the slightest notion of disservice to my boys, you tell me. Promise? Thanks...

A long, lean eight-and-a-half year old boy, sixty-pounds worth, snuggles next to me at six in the morning. He suffers the same affliction I do, when we wake up we are up, for good, enthusiastic, eager, awake. We are talking in the quiet predawn, in whispered tones we are imagining what a dog alien must be like, giggling a little. Nick suggests that I look a little like a dog with my big beard. I ask him if he likes it.

Yeah, it's okay.” Pause. “It sort of makes you look old.”

I am old.”

Yeah, but do you have to look it?”

The question lingers in the warm, humid air of a small bedroom in the early fall. It seems unanswerable, difficult, uncomfortable.

I tease him back, pinching his slightly chubby cheeks, making him giggle, and, truthfully, changing the subject. He settles down a little and lays back, thinking, I'd guess, I lean against the headboard, I know I am thinking.

I think of my own father, and wildness, and masculinity, and image, and the future, and my past. I see the beards my father had over the years, bright red initially, fading, like memories, to gray and white. I remember the time I was in a play and was told to just let my beard grow, how wild that was, how manly, how crazy, how wonderfully non-conformist and cool. All at once, I see myself as perhaps he sees me – old, tired, different – and wonder.

Do you not like that I am so old?” I whisper, hoping a little that he has fallen back asleep. He hasn't, in fact he seems to understand the query perfectly, giving the pause it deserves, the quiet intake of breath it requires.

It's not really your fault, you know?”

I think he is done, but he is not. He echoes back to me, something I have said to him, something, it would seem, he has come to understand:

It just is, I guess.”

It just is.


He asks to get up and leaves to go read in the living room. I hold back. I want to think about what I should do. I wonder if I should shave my beard and dress younger and get hip. I worry that perhaps his life is more difficult because I am different, because I am a full time dad, because I am fifty-something, because I am arty and old, because I am a little wild and serious and silly and odd and...

But, wait. I sit at the edge of the bed. I don't have to think of any of that.

It just is.

Thanks, buddy.

I want to forever remember the stories and images I share here. I wonder if anyone will recall this picture of me, taken six or seven months ago. This is how they see me, it suddenly occurs to me:

I will end this here today, without an image of or by the boys.  I'll just see how that feels.

From Marci's  "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

(while Zack plays the recorder)

N: "You are Zack's evil alien dog pet, and thus music is all that can contain you."
... well, there you have it ...

I hope he sang that in his "opera voice"...

Thanks for coming around again, come back soon, or in the sweet tenderness of the yet-to-come.  Speaking of which, and, since you've been so kind to read this - or should I say thus - far, I'll tell you a secret, sometimes I add an odd sentence or too on purpose for the boys in the future.  I thought that opening sentence aloud one time, as we were snacking on a plate of fresh apples, Honeycrisps, our very favorite kind, and I will forever hope that Zack will remember, the wistful, joyful moment he spent agreeing with my sentiment.  It's beautiful to remember hope.


  1. I like so much about this post I don't know where to start. I found myself smiling and saying "Yes" aloud and nodding at the end of every paragraph. The joy of the moment you've captured is not lost. As I type, my son is filling a soup ladle from the cold water tap and dumping it through the sink strainer while wearing his favorite hat. To me, *that*'s the kind of joy you've captured, and that's the purest kind there is. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to read this post again.

  2. I agree with Brian. It's a bit of a mind trip to get into the head of a kid, the way they accept the way things are, the way they find goodness, stability, dependability in the way things are. "It just is."

    And I think you make a good case, a worthy expression of the difference between apathy or resignation, and acceptance. It reminds me of this prayer:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    I got it from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, though I understand he didn't originate it.

    And at the same time, it's a mind trip multiplied to internalize both an acceptance of the way things are in an unchanging sense (the way kids see things), and an acceptance of the constant of change; that we adults are always, every day, falling apart, breaking down. And yet that doesn't mean we can't also create, and strive to create more than can ever be destroyed when we ultimately go the way of all the earth.

  3. Great story. I thoroughly enjoyed it while drinking a cup of coffee this morning with my sons surrounding me. Good content is better than more content, keep it up.

  4. For a different perspective, keep the beard, lose the boy. Just kidding. I remember when I was abouy 10 and my dad was 47 and he grew a beard. I was kind of jealous of him. I wanted a beard. But I was 10??!??!! But even though my dad only went grey in the last few years (in his 70s) the beard was grey well and truly before that and he shaved it. I didn't get that then. I get it now. Here I am at 39 and with beard and trying to look older than I do look in some respects, but younger in others.

  5. Kids seem to have a better grasp of acceptance... I spend at least 30 minutes a night, moisturizing, plucking, etc trying to not look as old as I feel most days.

    Maybe we could all take a lesson from them.

    Honeycrisps... nice. I myself, can not wait for Honey Bell season. :)

  6. This was good read. Stay at home dad or 9-5 dad it does not matter. The most important thing is that you are engaged with your kids and that is the best gift ever.

  7. It just is. And my two favorite Vonnegut Slaughter house V -sms: "And so it goes." "Why you? Why anybody?"