Sometimes I don’t recognize the reflection…

I was reading the other night and a startling image caught me by surprise. The light of my iPad was shining in my face and I looked up for a moment and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Maybe it was just the half light of the screen that made my face look older? It wasn’t. It certainly accentuated the lines that didn’t used to be there. I almost didn’t recognize myself. When did my reflection start looking so old?

Ok. I am not that old, but I am certainly starting to feel older. I will be 42 later this year. I haven’t been feeling it too much, but it I ha s my moments for sure.

IiiPart of aging includes remembering. Marixa and I have been talking a lot lately about memories. What do we remember? How long has it been? What significance did that period of time have? What did we learn? This is what I pulled from the conversation: What we remember is important. What we do with it is more important.

You hear the hypothetical question all the time: if you could go back to when you were younger, knowing what you know now, would you do it? My answer? No. Sure it would be nice to go back and make better use of my teenage years, save some more money, not date some of the women I dated, and so on, but I wouldn’t be the same. If I made it back to where I am now with a different view of life I may not have the things that mean the most to me now: my wife, my son, etc.

It was all of those life experiences that have made me into the man that I am today. If I hadn’t made a lot of the blunders and idiot mistakes I made over the years, I would not be who I am. It has taken a while, but I am really starting to like the guy in the mirror. I am finally becoming comfortable being myself. I know myself much better these days. It was only through the process of self discovery (and getting older) that I got here.

The old saying is true. People who don’t learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them. Those who don’t remember what happened, may walk down that road again. There are things in my past I am not proud of. There are choices I made that I would not make again. So, I remember them. I remember how it felt when I was going through them. I don’t want to go back so I choose a different way.

Yeah, he’s getting older. There are more lines on his face. There is much more gray on his head than there used to be, but they guy in the mirror’s life is getting better. I can’t go back and change what has happened in the past, but I am doing my best to take the memories I have and learn from them. The reflection is going to keep getting older, but the smile on his face has a chance to get wider as the years go by. I will take that over going back any day.

A trip back in time…

Not long ago I spent some time sorting memories. Ok, old papers and pictures, but they brought up a lot of memories. Many good. Some painful. Some things I haven’t thought of in over 20 years…or more. I have come across memoribilia from a couple of things I don’t remember doing, but I am in the pictures. (That isn’t a good feeling.) I have run across evidence of things I know I did that I wish I could forget. And, I have been bombarded with a lot of good memories.

I have enjoyed the trip back in time. It wasn’t intended as a pleasure trip though. I have been searching through this stuff to see what I can remember (or find out) about myself. Who I was back then has a bearing on who I am today. I may be completely different, but where I am now started back down that road. Parts of it have grown fuzzy. I have noticed that we tend to forget things about ourselves. Sometimes, they are very important things. Pieces of who we are and why. Life presses down on us so hard that we forget. Have you ever had times like that?

For instance, I was almost a straight A student when I was in grade school. There were a few Bs here and there, but I did really well. What do I remember? I was very unmotivated in High School. Lots of Bs and Cs. I was just as bad in college. What happened? I made the Jr. Honor Society as a kid, but I had to have my Plant Biology professor grade my final before I left the class to make sure I would pass the class so that I could graduate from college. (I was happy with the D I made in that class at the time, but looking back now I know I could have done so much better.) I still haven’t figured it all out, but I know there is something important I am missing there.

How long has it been since you examined who you are now compared to who you were back then? History really does repeat itself if we forget or neglect to remember. If we forget where we have been, we may make the same mistakes we made long ago. We may be bound by the same problems that should have already been over.

It has been painful to see my younger self in some of the pictures. (I had an unhealthy fascination with posing for the camera.) But, it has been amusing at the same time. There are things I have remembered by looking at these pictures that have been long forgotten. It has been an interesting look in the mirror. One I should have taken before now.

Give them what they need…

I heard a very wise man say this. Someone had asked him what was one of the most important lessons he could share about how he raised his kids. He smiled and spoke those words. You should love your children, but not worship them. The message in that sentence is profound.

The end goal of parenting is to raise a child up to be a fully functioning, productive member of society. Well, that is what the goal should be and once was. It is not that way anymore for many. It seems these days that many people’s goal is to survive parenting by catering to the child’s every want. Notice I didn’t say need.

You know the kids I am talking about. They seem normal for a bit, but you notice that they are catered to. They are coddled. If the parent should dare to say no the child throws a fit to get their way and regain control. They are unruly and undisciplined. They may be good kids at heart, but it is hard to tell because there is so much chaos going on.

Then, you come across what seem to be miracle children. They are healthy and happy. They are respectful. They know how to say thank you and please. They get in trouble from time to time, but are eager to do good and be good. How is this possible? The parents love their children enough to teach them how they need to behave.

How could this be love though? Doesn’t love want them to have what they want? Doesn’t it want them to be happy all the time? No. Not really. Not all the time. Love wants to take care of their needs. It wants them to be healthy and well rounded people and guides them away from self destructive paths. Love doesn’t want to see them hurt, but knows that sometimes they must hurt to learn. Love knows they have to fail sometimes to really appreciate the view when they breakthrough and reach the top.

When he was younger my son, Was really into the Pixar movie The Incredibles. There are tons of great lines buired in that film. One that stuck out to me happened when Mr and Mrs Incredible got into an argument over their son’s activities at school. She said, “You don’t even want to go to your own son’s graduation.” Mr Incredible replied, “He’s moving from the third grade to the fourth grade. This is psychotic. They keep thinking up new ways to celebrate mediocrity.”

In an effort to keep children from feeling bad, many people celebrate things that should not be celebrated. I have no idea if a third grade graduation is a good thing or not. However, I do know that by celebrating mediocrity you have a hard time encouraging excellence. If you tell a kid they are doing a good job when they’re really not, how is this productive? I’m not sure that it is.

Make no mistake, I love my son. He is one of the reasons that I get up and do everything I do during the day. There’s nothing better to hear that little boy laugh, see him smile, or have him run to me for a hug. I love it.

I want to give him every opportunity in life to succeed. And if that means I have to disappoint him by not giving him everything he may want, but giving him what he needs, I am going to. I have no doubt he will get many things that he wants, and has over the years, because they will be good things that he enjoys. He will know his mama and daddy love him, but he will also know that life is about more than just him.

Thoughts from quarantine

Like everybody else I know, my family and I have been staying home during everything that is going on. I have a couple of thoughts to share.

1. I am so thankful to God for my wife and son. We aren’t rich by any means, but I feel so blessed. I have a job that I can do online. I have a home to stay safe in. I have food. Feeling very grateful.

2. My heart goes out to those who have contracted this virus. I am praying for you.

3. This is a time to be safe and reevaluate what matters.

4. There is a good chance my house will be cleaner and more organized than ever depending on how long this lasts.

I’m the Man – Song Lyrics

Verse 1

Here we are, about to drift off to sleep and as I watch you lying there, wrapped up close to me. It makes me very thankful that I have another day to hold you in my arms and love your past away. Because I know from time to time he still comes to your mind but with every day I have I intend to show you why
I’m the man who should be with you for I’m in love with every thing you do. How you laugh out loud, how you comb your hair. The way you hold me baby and how you show you care. So if he starts to call again and you don’t know what to do. Simply tell him, I’m the man who should be with you.
Verse 2
Now you will never hear me say that I’m a perfect man, but even in imperfection I want you to understand.  That every day I live, and in every thing I do I will show time and time again the love I have for you. You days of pain are over, your struggles are through. For baby I am a man who gonna be with you
I’m the man who should be with you for I’m in love with every thing you do. How you laugh out loud, how you comb your hair. The way you hold me baby and how you show you care. So if he starts to call again and you don’t know what to do. Simply tell him, I’m the man who should be with you.