Monday, June 20, 2011

You're still young, that's your fault. (On Fathers)

(The title line comes from Cat Stevens's Father and Son.)

In my Pain as Illumination post, I highlighted one of the most touching father scenes in literature -- the encounter of Priam and Achilles. In general, though, I've tended to side with youth. (For example: Here. Here. Here.) Now I also honor the old(er).

12 Things I Learned from My Father:

1. Age touches even the mighty: My father went from running a 10k race to walking with a cane to having hip replacement surgery in mere months. All of this before graying. And the "good" hip will also need to be replaced soon.

2. Keep room on the shelf for Dostoevsky and Homer. I even later stole some of those shelves to furnish my apartment.

3. But it's also okay to stay up to finish the Sword of Shannara series. What now looks like insomnia was then impressive precocity.

4. How to lift weights. An essential skill for someone like me who moves often and has lots of books.

5. Treat animals kindly, even snakes. Or especially snakes. You don't want to know how many pet snakes I had growing up. As a kid, my dad had two pet garter snakes that he named Hektor and Achilles after one tried to swallow the other (in an argument over a worm).

6. Milk is for babies; wise men drink beer. Whoops. That lesson actually came from someone else. I drank milk by the gallon as a kid. Still haven't broken a bone that I know of.

7. Anger is often counterproductive and self-defeating. Calm is not easy, but it gets easier as you go.

8. Sometimes you need to turn it up to 11. The first guitar I played was a Gibson Hummingbird knock-off I borrowed from him. The neighbors, in the spirit of those at the Newport Folk Festival, probably wished I'd never plugged in.

9. Root against the Dallas Cowboys. Being a decent person, I probably would have arrived at this anyways. But it's nice to learn some things early.

10. Why Carl Jung is Still Worth Studying. If you're interested, I have a recent blog post on the subject.

11. Play the game the way the refs are calling it. No use in raging against structural factors you can't control. Push where they can't see. Adapt. Adjust. Be smart. I can't call him the best coach I ever encountered, since this guy was hanging around the Princeton travel soccer program when I was there, but he was pretty darn good and coaching is pretty dang hard.

12. Find your talent, find your bliss. Still working on this one, but I've got you readers to guide me as well. Now my sins are my own.

The Very Best Of Cat StevensNFL: History of the Washington RedskinsThe Portable Jung (Portable Library)

Care to add a 13th lesson? Do wise men drink beer? Favorite lesson from your own father?

*I recently joined Google Friend Connect, and I'd love for you to follow along for easy access and the enormous status boost that comes with being a beloved reader of this blog.* 

24 comments:

  1. I love this post!

    Fun and weird fact - Yesterday we learned that my sister in law has started a Cat Stevens cover band.

    What did I learn from my dad? That I should do better in Algebra (sorry dad,) how to catch frogs, and cook their legs, and catch fish, and cook them too, not to swear in front of adults (which I still can't do) and how to sound out words I don't know which ruined my ability to spell but taught me not to fear what I don't know because you can always figure it out if you go slow and work through it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Sommer

    So much great stuff in this comment.

    "my sister in law has started a Cat Stevens cover band."

    Bizarre and awesome.

    "taught me not to fear what I don't know"

    A great lesson to have learned.

    "ruined my ability to spell"

    That's what spell check is for!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I feel it's a little harsh giving your dad a giant cookie that calls him gay.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @mooderino

    It's supposed to read 'yay' :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @mooderino

    Luckily you didn't misread it as 'gag dad' and send the cops after me!

    It's never nice to start a week with the police. (I suppose I've just added a 13th lesson myself.)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Glad to have been of service :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hektor, I love this post. I love this post!

    Okay, no. 7-- booya. An angry temperament is the pits. A calm and collected approach to life makes everything easier for everyone. You project quite the unruffled, fair-minded demeanor in your posts so kudos to both you and your Pop on that one.

    No. 6-- running helps those bones stay strong even more than milk, whose calcium we are able to assimilate at a decreased rate as we age. So keep up the sprints, jogs or, yes, even walks.

    No. 8-- ha!

    No. 10-- word.

    No. 12-- my father always told me, do what you love, and the money will take care of itself. Idealistic, optimistic, perhaps even a bit recklessly foolish? Shrugs. Doing what I love has still been the way to go-- despite the famine. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Suze

    "A calm and collected approach to life makes everything easier for everyone."

    I think you're right on this one.

    "you project quite the unruffled, fair-minded demeanor in your posts"

    Thank you. You're very kind.

    "keep up the sprints, jogs or, yes, even walks."

    That's good advice. I'll do my best :).

    "Idealistic, optimistic, perhaps even a bit recklessly foolish? Shrugs. Doing what I love has still been the way to go-- despite the famine. :)"

    Very inspiring. Thanks for the support.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's neat about your father keeping snakes as pets. I'm your 50th! What do I get? Respect? Okay, cool enough for me. :P

    Looking forward to reading more posts!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, AA!

    "What do I get? Respect?"

    Loads and loads of respect.

    And your awesome dog avatar on my wall of follower faces. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sounds like you got it all figured out...lots of books and rooting against the Cowboys. Well done;) But also, Priam and Achilles...great example of just how timeless human relationships can be:)

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Mark

    "Sounds like you got it all figured out"

    The numbered list just makes it seem that way! I've got plenty to learn.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a fantastic post!

    What I learned from my father? Know how to get where you're going. There's no shame in using a map and I always have an idea if something is N, S, E, or W of me. But you will NEVER see a navigation system in my car. Never.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks, TL.

    "I always have an idea if something is N, S, E, or W of me. But you will NEVER see a navigation system in my car."

    I don't think I've mastered this lesson yet. I tend to learn my way around by getting lost. It's not a very efficient method.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What did I learn from my dad?

    How to survive an effin' zombie attack, that's what.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "How to survive an effin' zombie attack, that's what."

    Does it involve flying away on a unicorn? 'Cause that's my plan.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are a very interesting person! Somehow you found my blog. I'm glad you did. You are a very interesting person. And so young! It's true: Age touches even the mighty. I'm so sorry your father's body is falling apart. It can happen if we live long enough. I read Dostoevsky and Homer so long ago I can't remember when. Now I write memoirs, and read them. I, too, lift weights, but probably not like you do--just to keep my thin-boned wrists strong. And I walk on the treadmill because I have to stave off bodily deterioration so I can take care of my daughter. I think everything you learned from your father says how wise he is, and how wise you are to know he taught you well. And yes, calm does get easier as you go, though some days I wonder what happened to it!
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

    ReplyDelete
  18. p.s. When you get old you repeat yourself! Actually, it isn't age but just a long day that's responsible for the sentence I repeated. But at least it's a true one. Especially the one with the exclamation point!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi, Ann!

    I found you via (fellow commenter) Alleged Author's recommendation.

    Thank you for the kind words.

    "it isn't age but just a long day that's responsible for the sentence I repeated."

    This gets us all! Just this week I had to apologize for repeating words in a response to a commenter.

    "weights, treadmills, memoirs"

    All valuable activities. :)

    And thanks for the kind words about my father as well.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a wonderful tribute to your father...
    Funny thing, I was just thinking of This is Spinal Tap like three hours ago. Funny thing, this universe.
    My dad taught me to not sweat the small stuff. He's the kind of guy who has his life pretty well prioritized - and if something isn't worth worrying about, he doesn't worry about it...

    ReplyDelete
  21. @Kim

    Spinal Tap is a good one.

    "My dad taught me to not sweat the small stuff. "

    Good advice for us all!

    ReplyDelete
  22. "Does it involve flying away on a unicorn? 'Cause that's my plan."

    Well, it's more like survive any apocalypse. When the world ends, I gotta plan. And there may or may not be magical creatures involved.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I bet part of this plan involves not sharing its secrets, right?

    Rats. I'll have to hope the unicorns come through.

    ReplyDelete

Web Analytics Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...