George Carlin once said, “The great tragedy is that we have greatly extended life while at the same time we have reduced living.” There is obviously some cynicism in his wit but there is a lot of truth in that statement as well. The idea that we seek out comfort and routine to our own detriment is interesting. The things that we work hard for and consider ourselves sacrificing for become the anchor that slows our ship.My ship is moored at an unsellable dock.
When you consider your life as a slide show what parts do you remember the clearest? So much of our bodies and minds are built around survival and when we are panicked or stressed we do two things; we store fat and we remember.
There are whole eras of my life that I have to assume were easy sailing because I don’t remember a thing. Everything must have been routine and my brain didn’t see fit to hit Record. I know it can record because it collects piles of useless things and every now and then pulls something out to show the world. Just the other day I heard one verse of a song and discovered that seventeen years later, I still know half the songs on the Master P – Ghetto D album. What the hell. My wife asks if I remembered to mail “that letter” and I am lost but rap lyrics from two decades ago – got it. I was fifteen or sixteen and meeting new people, learning how to have a social life, and life had a lot of action. That album along with Sublime, and the Sugar Ray 4:20 album were along for the ride and just part of the memory.
It is crazy to me that people focus on life as this series of milestones towards a goal yet the things we carry with us have nothing to do with why we were there. Sometimes I think I remember everything about college except the classes. Places, people, smells, and sometimes atmosphere comes in and I’m suddenly somewhere else. A smell of black coffee against a Styrofoam cup and I can see the blind man who ran the campus coffee shop. (I notice the irony in that last sentence but figured I would leave it) Sometimes I would give anything to be back in some of those places or times for a day. That’s not how it works though.
The Dali Llama made a statement that sums it up pretty neatly. He was asked, “What about humans do you find most interesting?” His answer was something along the lines of, “That they spend all of their health and youth gaining money only to grow old and spend their money gaining health and youth.”
I have a friend that I have never met. His name is Oren Miller and he started a Facebook page for Dad Bloggers. A community where dads could show up, share, and support. By that I mean “bitch about spouses and kids” to a sympathetic group of people who will nod their head in understanding. I’m mostly kidding but it is a cool group and they all love being a parent. Oren set a good rule for the group too. I think it is a rule we could use in life. A little more crass than the Golden Rule so I’ll call it the Silver Rule, “Don’t be a dick.”
Mr. Miller also has advanced lung cancer and is at the point of not pursuing treatment anymore. I’ve been touched by similar stories via the internet before but this one has something that resonates a little deeper. Sad stories are everywhere. Life is one hundred percent not fair. But Oren decided to smile through the tears and enjoy the world. He put together a group of guys that I enjoy talking with almost daily. I read things that other people go through and feel like I’m not alone. “Hey look! Someone else’s kid shit on their couch too!” That is what I hoped to bring to other parents with my stories and somehow, this man I don’t know, has brought that security to me. Talk about mind blown.
I stay up late, set hard rules, plan the future down to the minute, and constantly feel behind. I have desires like everyone does of creating something cool, or new, or that everyone loves. Yet, I watched from the sidelines as a man made the world a better place for real people. There are people I think were deep in depression and having an outlet to other peer-parents brought them back from suicide. I’ve watched it. There are people who were struggling with doing the right thing as a parent and the feedback and support is there every day. It is a community that Oren helped to craft and it will touch thousands of people for years to come. Deep down we all want to know we did something lasting. We want to know we will be remembered. Why do we avoid meaningful things?
We need better examples of how to make sure a life worth remembering happens. It isn’t by being the first place winner, or holding a world record, or showing someone how right you are. (That is a hard one for me to swallow but true.) To support people and to love people; that is the best way I have found to create something lasting. I’m not sure I have done it but I have seen the template.
The beauty of Oren’s story is that he has created something meaningful and lasting. The tragedy of Oren’s story is that it shouldn’t take “dying” to do it. He already lives in hearts and minds and next year will live in a scholarship for a dad to meet other dads. Sounds strange but there is more support for sexual orientation choices than there Is for being a male parent.
So to Oren… I hope my folded up, wide ruled, notebook paper note means something to you and your family because things you have done have meant a lot to me and mine. If your family need the awesome service of a civil engineer or a wife who bakes miraculous cakes then you call in your favor anytime. Live with love.
David B. (aka Underdaddy)