It’s easy to take for granted the closeness and physical presence of loved ones in our lives. Their smell, the emotions they bring out in us, or the energy they bring when entering a room. It’s an amazing thing; the physical presence of another human which you’ve shared a large part of your life with. The realization that a parent, child, or friend may not always be there is hard to imagine… until they’re not there anymore. Death is so final.
This is going to sound bad… OK, it is bad, but it’s just a thought. When I went through a tough break up many years ago I remember thinking it would be easier if the other person had died suddenly. I know it’s horrible to think. Yet I know I’m not that unique. If they died, I wouldn’t have to accept the idea they were living their lives content, without me. I could move on. That was the first time in my life I felt utterly helpless, hopeless, out of control; an emotion that logic, commitment, and hard work could not maneuver past. The result was a pain I had no idea how to deal with—so I went back to the only thing I knew how to do, isolate and drink. Behavior which only re-enforced the wall of impossibility at finding a spiritual solution to any problem. Like the saying, “only an alcoholic treats loneliness with isolation.”
Locked up within ourselves is a horrible place to be as our ego tells us just how special we are. Just as long as I remained in the shadows of ego and terminal uniqueness would I be blocked from the sunlight of the spirit. The answer to all my problems was acceptance and surrender. Acceptance of my fatal situation and surrendering to the idea that someone or something could help me. What I have discovered is the sunlight of the spirit will always keep me warm, the universe prefers to conspire in my favor, and I will never be alone. To receive all of this, I was only to do one thing; ask for help.
Just ask. Amazing… it seems so simple now; yet in the throws of depression, disease, and self-martyrdom, asking for help, seeking a lifeline at any cost is often no more logical than stamping out the sun.
Not being a licensed psychiatrist, I have no lengthy diagnosis as to why asking for help never really seemed like a solution. Could be—most likely is—I didn’t want help. At least not until the pain was too unbearable. It’s a tough position to be in; more afraid of living the way you are than dying. Today I appreciate the logic in the idea that you “can’t fix a broken thinker with a broken thinker.”
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
I think asking for help is difficult for most people. Needing help suggests you don’t know something which in turn may cause you to look stupid. This is just dumb. Asking for help is the first step in ego deflation and humility—not to be confused with laziness. Spiritual growth allows us to see ourselves as no less or greater than those around us; thus asking for help is not such a difficult task. Better yet, in asking we’re giving someone or something the gift of giving.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
The next time you feel lost (physically, emotionally, spiritually) just ask for help. It doesn’t matter who or what you ask, just ask. If you don’t ask, there is absolutely zero possibility that someone or something will answer. What do you have to loose?
I considered the difficulty of asking for help was a reflection of childhood. This brings up thoughts of my father. My step-son and his wife gave me a book this year for my birthday, Sh*t My Dad Says (Amazon). I haven’t read it yet, but will as soon as I’m finished reading the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse (Amazon) series. Yes, I’m reading those and love them! Back to the topic..
My dad did say some pretty funny stuff, although I don’t remember enough to fill up a book. I wish now I’d paid better attention.
There are only a few things I remember my father saying that stuck with me all these years:
- One day my dad and I were in the backyard together, I must have been a Sophomore or Junior because I was contemplating my future after high school. I asked my dad what he learned in the Army and if I should join the military, his response, “If a Huey crash landed in the backyard right now, I could fix it.”
- When you live on a farm going into town is a big deal. I couldn’t wait to see what cool new gadgets and toys they had at the local hardware/department store. After a routine trip into town with mom, I returned with a brand new pellet gun; the Marksman 1010 Pistol. I was so excited to show my dad, who was sitting out by the garage working on something I’m sure. Excitedly I sat one of his beer cans out about 10 feet from where he was sitting, aimed, and… missed. He looked at me and said, “Hell son, I can run faster than that.” What a buzz kill.
- When I was about 12 I really wanted a job, don’t ask me why! My father said, “son, you’re going to be working for the rest of your life, I suggest you enjoy not working as long as you can.”
Thinking about that starts the tightness in my throat. I think of the article Today Could Be Your Last Chance; Make it Count!, and that my father worked so freaking hard his entire life only to retire and die a few years later. That’s my jaded side.
I prefer to feed the part of me that realizes there’s more to life than work. I want to be known for helping people. My father wanted to be known as a good provider, hard working, and dependable. He certainly was all those things. At least I’m assuming that’s what he wanted to be known for; unfortunately we never really had that conversation. His actions sure supported those ideals. He once told my sister he was only late to work twice in his life; once due to a flat tire and the second time because he had to pick up a co-worker at the last minute. I feel for whoever that co-worker was. I’m laughing… he seemed so rigid sometimes yet had the softness heart. At least that’s the way I remember him, which is all that matters.
I’m not sure how good of a father figure my dad was for me growing up; he must have done something right because most people seem to think I turned out OK as a man. Yet I’m not sure my father is what I miss. I miss the funny character, the history we shared together, the things he only told my mother who later shared with me; like how proud of me he was.
I miss my dad
I miss dad’s physical presence
I miss dad’s smell
I miss dad’s hands
I miss dad’s balding head
I miss dad’s laugh
I miss the disgruntled way dad looked when he was
woken from a nap
I miss dad reminding me to pay my bills on time
I miss dad’s amusing cantankerous nature
I miss the way my dad would grunt when he stood from
all the years of hard work
I miss how the older dad got, the more we talked on the phone
I miss the many ways dad said I love you without ever saying it
I miss the scar on my dads thumb and the story about
the doctor stitching it up
I miss the surprisingly witty side of dad as he got older
I’m grateful for having a dad and all the experiences to miss. My dad was simple, loving, hard working, and dependable. He was always there. Until he wasn’t.
Yes, death is final. But only in the physical sense. Oddly I think about my father more now—the significance he had in my life and all the great things he stood for. Sure I wish I could touch him, hug him, and all the things that come with being physically present with someone. Yet I also see the beauty of life around me more than ever and feel his presence in memories and thoughts. I am different than I was before he passed away. Something ended so something else could begin. The beauty is there if you look, if you ask.
In the end, all that remain are memories. Fleeting recollections of a moment, ignorant of their significance, created as we experience life with those around us. Experiences that pass like fireflies; simple and beautiful and seemingly less significant until the reality of their absence becomes apparent from the darkness.
When you’re gone, what experiences and memories do you want your loved ones to miss?
Photo Credit: caese