Sunday, June 20, 2010

The One Where I Talk About My Dad

Several times over the past 40 years, my dad's explained to me that he doesn't really need social connections. "People are just a bother," he'd say. He preferred to be alone. Being isolated didn't disappoint him, didn't invite drama into his life and didn't intrude on his beliefs.

People do.

For years I struggled with how to connect with him. We have, literally, nothing in common except the sound of our laugh and a proclivity toward extreme shyness. Early on he embraced being shy, avoiding people outside of his normal, decades-long routines. I rejected my innate shyness during my teens when I realized I needed to interact with people, even though doing so often made me feel awkward and uncomfortable.

How we approached that problem probably played a key role in the different paths our lives took.

In my 20s I thought something was wrong with me because I wasn't very much like my dad. I saw the world in a different way than he did, and held different core values. I was conflicted; when a young man's worldview doesn't match up with the only role model he's had, the young man often thinks something is wrong with him. In my 30s I became angry, pissed off that dad wasn't more like me. That anger helped me carve out and establish my own identity, though, and in my 40s I learned to be more accepting and more understanding of our differences.

A father and son can be totally different, and still love and respect each other.

I don't put any real monetary effort into Father's Day. Something about buying my dad a T-shirt or a coffee mug with a cute slogan seems to cheapen the event. To me, Father's Day is a time for reflection, appreciation and trying to become closer.

Even if it's not always easy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow this was powerful, actually made me tear up...well done Marc!