Fatherless Figuring

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The only thing that I can even remotely relate to the notion of having a child is someone handing me a scalpel and asking me to perform a complex medical procedure. It’s wildly intimidating, I’m completely unqualified, and a human life is at risk.

For those of you with children, this concept probably seems absurd. You’d argue it’s the most natural, most biologically-hardwired thing in the world. You barely remember a single day before parenthood provided you with purpose, granting you a gift that made you feel alive and empowered. You were waiting, wandering without focus, until you were blessed with this tiny bundle of instant selflessness.

I get it. Well, I get the general drift. But, I just can’t seem to choke down all the Kool-Aid.

I imagine a number of factors are to blame. I’m an only child. I grew up without a father. I think the survival of the planet hinges on population reduction. Blah, blah, blah.

But, recently, I had a mini revelation. I’ve lived (for longer than I care to admit) with the general belief that serious life decisions and responsibilities are handled by adults. Grownups are experienced, knowledgable, and capable of tackling whatever unplanned catastrophes happen to surface. They can get married, buy houses, have children, organize barbecues, and generally have a damn fine time.

Well, now I’m considerably deep into this “adulthood” everyone keeps talking about, and I don’t feel I have even the simplest skill set required to navigate that world. So, since I live in a constant state of contemplation, I’ve arrived at a couple of conclusions.

1) It’s difficult to foster someone else’s childhood when you still want to revisit your own.

-Many thanks to Mom for this one. Ages 0-18 were a self-actualized dream come to life…full of wonder, hope, love, excitement, and security. Sure, there was one major bump on that perfectly-paved road, but that’s why George Hansburg made the pogo stick.

2) You can’t have a kid when you still ARE a kid.

-Obviously, this isn’t true. Every major city in America proves this thesis false on a daily basis. But, I’m referring to a state of mind. Undoubtedly, there are some who would argue I’m a 90-year-old man, living in the body of a weird, writing hermit. However, habitual handcuffs and erratic sleeping patterns aside, I watch the world with the same discerning eyes I had at 15. Maybe everyone feels like that. There’s a saying that we never realize we age until we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. Well, that may very well be the case. Regardless, these teenage peepers still see the news of impending fatherhood with the same, balanced mix of pity and terror. It’s not celebration. It’s sympathy.

But, I suppose there’s some future awakening or dormant life event waiting to flip those tables and make me one of the “normals.” Anything is possible.

For now, I’ll continue to stay in awe of these crazy youngsters and their fancy adult lives, living like an old man with a teenage heart.

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Weightless and Waiting

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Although I was fast to find every available screening seat for most of this year’s Oscar contenders,  I’ll admit I was a bit late to the “Gravity” party. My aversion to 3D technology, coupled with a reluctance to see a film that would almost definitely cause a violent case of vertigo, significantly delayed my time at the ticket window. But, last weekend I finally watched what I can only describe as a mind-bending, perspective-shifting cinematic experience.

Unfortunately, I had to travel deep into the Valley to find one of the only 2D presentations of this film. But it was worth the drive, and well worth the wait.

Lately, I’ve had a hard time shaking a feeling that has been lingering for a long time. It has been increasingly difficult to find solid ground. There’s an ever-present sense of floating, in both the figurative and literal sense. I’m continuously searching for the elusive sand beneath my toes.

A variety of factors are fueling my personal levitation, but adding the terrifying truth that we are literally suspended in the middle of infinite blackness, peppered between stars and solar systems, forced an instant pause and evaluation session.

A frame of reference is a powerful thing, and sometimes the picture we meticulously paint over a lifetime is merely a brush stroke on the canvas of eternity. Our insignificance in the universe should be a liberating, shackle-breaking sense of freedom, but somehow I feel caged by it. It would be so much easier to wander through the days with my head buried beneath the sand, but my wiring is not programmed for blind compliance.

I want to know more about the reason we’re weightless and waiting. I want to know why we’re left alone with thoughts that keep us awake, with spinning minds and nervous hands. These are impossible answers to impossible questions, I guess. We are an infant species with an endless chasm of uncertainties at our feet. But, the idea that everything around us exists in a bubble of questions is unsettling.

Maybe I’m just a maniac. Maybe it’s time to stop wondering why, and just find a way to be happy inside the microcosm. Maybe time will provide the solutions and justifications.

But, as Jodie Foster famously said, “The universe is a pretty big place. It’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So, if it’s just us…seems like an awful waste of space. “

They’re All Made Out of Ticky-Tacky, and They All Look Just the Same.

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While reading on the beach in our customary 80-degree January weather, I couldn’t help but notice a striking disconnect among the various couples surrounding my meticulously-positioned lounge chair. At first, I assumed I was jumping to generalizations about boredom inside of stale relationships or the blatant escape tactic of focusing way too much energy on constructing the kid’s sandcastle instead of recognizing the glaring danger signs inside a faltering marriage. But, then I took a closer look.

As I stretched in the sun (with my Kindle steady in hand), I watched people sitting together, but alone. Even those without children, presumably in new relationships, had about as much enthusiasm for one another as dentists have for their halitosis patients. It was detachment at its most fundamental form. I tried to catch pieces of conversations to better paint a picture of the reasons behind the laconism, but the couples were just that. Silent. They acted as if never saying a word to each other was the most normal thing in the world. Apparently, this was their version of a union.

If these people were wrinkling in the sun, deep into their 80’s or 90’s, I would have given them a pass. But, these were not alliances built from history or struggle. These were not teammates who saw the best and worst of the world together, and were now relaxing into the last chapter of their lives with a comfortable understanding of one another’s every quirk and nuance. Some of these purveyors of the silent treatment were barely out of college. Has your partner already become that wildly boring that you feel the irresistible need to escape into your own mind to avoid interaction?

Well, good thing an iPhone is never more than 10 inches away. That’s the most efficient piece of modern distraction ever mass produced.

It’s a sad statement that we choose to align ourselves with people whose company or input we don’t value. Loneliness is a powerful thing, but it’s not that powerful. Life’s too short. Hang with people who can paint a smile on your face.

Or, at least bring a Kindle and learn something.

***This is not a paid endorsement for the Kindle or any particular e-reader. However, if Amazon is listening, I am more than willing to discuss blog sponsorship!

RSVP + 0

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The anxiety-inducing realization that the only thing accompanying you to most social functions will be a hefty gust of wind whipping through an empty passenger’s seat is a daunting prospect. But, in a world of significant others tagging two steps behind to every conceivable soirée and backyard barbecue, the unescorted visitor is often met with sideways glances, overcompensating high-fives, and hearty hello hugs.

But, why is that something seen as sad? We’re okay. Granted, the first few seconds from the car to the front door of the house, bar, restaurant, coffee shop, graduation ceremony, funeral, etc. are instant pulse raisers. Fight or flight takes the wheel and tries to steer us back to safety. Sometimes it’s even enough to make us call the whole thing off and dive into another Netflix Portlandia marathon. But, after the initial awkwardness, the party pieces fall into place and everyone settles into a communal space. There was a reason we decided to attend. We like these people. These are friends with shared histories and they’ve seen us at our best and worst. Sure, they’re dropping off into family mode faster than flies stuck in a Raid cloud, but that doesn’t mean we’re lost on an island of misfit toys.

We’re just as funny and personable as ever. Besides, maybe the fact that we’re not spending the entire time bickering about some mundane squabble we couldn’t leave at the house, or chasing behind a two-year-old with a penchant for destroying anything at adult knee level, makes us the more desirable company. Let’s face it. Freedom packs some serious appeal, especially to those who have lost it.

So, let us embrace the solo label, wearing it like a crown of independence. We are the kings and queens of our sequestered castles.

It’s a New Year…Time to Find New Ways to Spew Ideas Into the Ether.

For all of you who have been eagerly anticipating my entrance into the blogging arena, your wait is finally over. If you’ve grown tired of poetry, song lyrics, book excerpts, or any other variety of Facebook/Twitter musings, this is for those who want the direct dope, shot from the hip, straight from the heart.

I’ve been walking around this planet for a little while, and my gears have been spun by a brain that won’t relax and hips that simply won’t lie. I’ve taken in the world and its many eccentricities, and I’ve kept a little mental log of all I’ve learned.

By no means is this process complete. If anything, it’s intensifying. I’m still awed, inspired, and dumbfounded by what I see. But, this blog will serve as a series of ruminations and  observations from someone who has been built to tackle life as a lone wolf.

I don’t mean to imply I’m a Hughesian recluse, shunning the outside world to live in a room filled with urine jars. But, even in company, there is an inherent sense of self-imposed space.

I doubt I am alone in these feelings, especially as we grow more and more detached, plugged into our social media machines, praying to the gods of attention and acceptance. As we fool ourselves into believing we are connected, we drift further apart. But, maybe a global power outage will have us all gathering around the campfire, telling stories about the good ol’ days of modems and  air conditioning. I would instantly wither and die, but good luck to the rest of you.

Until then, sit back and strap on your ear goggles. It’s 2014, and the singularity is near.

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