It cost Socrates his life when he said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” But it still got me thinking about a niggling issue I had to deal with.
I lost my sleep at 3:00 AM. Actually, this whole week has been restless and sleepless. My attempt at lulling myself back to sleep frustrates me the more. I get out of bed, brew a pot of coffee, and try to write. Nothing happens!
It feels like my thoughts are on remote control. For an hour, I struggle to focus. Finally, out of desperation, I turn to watch a TED Talk. And it hits me like a run-away train! In it, I finally found a missing piece in my puzzle of life.
It occurred to me that Father’s Day has been heavy on my mind. Actually, I have sub-consciously thought of this day every year for the last 20 years. But I have locked it deep in my mind in a bid to forget it.
All along, three questions have plagued me: How does it feel to have a father? What does it mean to have a father… Really? How do I define father?
For any man can father a child. Fatherhood isn’t for the faint of heart. And so is the leadership of our lives. My back-story is that of growing up without a real relationship with my father.
I have worked very hard towards becoming a father to our three children. From waking up in the night to change diapers, praying their nightmares away, to riding bicycles through mud.
But there is one area that I have failed. And that is in atonement with my father for his absence and the anger that ensued. I forgave him. I accepted that what had happened is water under the bridge.
Many of us avoid to live an examined life. Or if we do, we leave out those pieces that give us a sense of vindication. It is to justify and define the ills committed against us. We hold them as a trump card that holds another person hostage.
However, that trump card becomes the missing leg in our life. For me, it feels like sitting on a stool with only two legs instead of three. I have acknowledged and accepted my situation.
But, this year I will be more deliberate as I mark Father’s Day. I will celebrate that my story will find its fullness with its third leg – Atonement. It will be a little awkward and uncomfortable.
This is coming to a full realization I had been hurt. First, I forgave myself from the notion that I was responsible for the emptiness I felt. As a boy and young man, I was hard on myself. Was I was the cause of my father’s absence?
It finally dawned on me that he was responsible for his choices. But this switch wasn’t easy. Forgiving him took many years… 30 years! I had to account for my choices.
In order to move on with my life, I had to forgive my father. Without this, I would remain a prisoner of my anger and bitterness. I hurt others in the process. My three children had also been denied the opportunity to meet with their grandfather.
We all have been robbed of the opportunity of a relationship. This has been the fiercest struggle for me. For dealing with this acceptance, I now have to embrace an even bigger responsibility. And that is to define our reconciliation.
It is time to smoke the peace-pipe and be reconciled to each other. It will involve going back to the place that is synonymous with pain and hurt. A place I haven’t laid eyes upon in a decade. The home I grew up in is but a distant memory. The laughter was spaced out and conversations were functional.
We need to be united again and open another chapter in our lives. For my children, it will define a completely new experience to meet their grandfather, my father. We will not be defined by my worst.
When you acknowledge that there is nothing repulsive or unforgivable or shameful about yourself, it becomes easier to be that authentic person and feel like you’re living a less performed life.” ~John Green
This is my long walk to freedom. Where two fathers can reconnect and focus on the future. My hope is that we can both embrace our stories and help define what lies ahead.
Q: How have memories of your dad affected or influenced you? Have your say by clicking here.