Category: Musings

Discovering my lacunae

Yesterday we went to the mall. I know, between month end and extended Black Friday specials (cause apparently that’s now a thing in SA) it’s insanity. But the wife has been going stir crazy from her maternity leave, and we had woken up to the news that her grandmother had passed, so I decided getting out of the house was more important than avoiding the crowds.

We just strolled aimlessly through the shops, not looking for anything specific (our Christmas shopping was completed weeks ago already), but I quickly became frustrated.

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A letter to my daughter on her first day on Earth

My dearest Elizabeth,

Today is your first day on Earth. Today you breathed air for the first time, and moments later I got to hear your first scream. I held you in my arms when you first opened your eyes, and for the first time you fell asleep in my arms.

I wish I could keep you like this always, safe in my arms and sheltered from all the ugliness in the world, but I can’t. You will grow up, much sooner than I want you to, and come face to face with the hurts of this world.

Your mother and I did you a disservice in a way, bringing you into this world, as it is a crazy and terrible place. It’s a world where people believe it’s okay to hate others just because they look, think or believe differently than you. It’s a world where people put themselves first, without a thought of how their actions might hurt those around them. It’s a world where greed and dishonesty is rewarded and integrity only brings you trouble.

It’s a world in which you will be hurt, and as much as I want to protect you from it, I know I’ll never be able to. I’m just not strong enough.

I might even cause more than a little share of the hurt you will experience in your life.

And for that I apologise.

But I want you to know two things of which you can be certain:

First, I love you. I love you more than I have words to describe. I only met you a few hours ago but I already know that I can never stop loving you, even if I tried. I can’t protect you from this world, but I will do everything in my power to try and do it anyway, because I’m your father and that’s what dads do (the good ones, anyway, and I really hope I’m one of those).

And second, this world is an incredible place. I know, I know. A moment ago I called it…I think my exact words were “crazy and terrible”. But at the same time it’s also filled with beauty and wonder.

You were born on a Tuesday. We drove to hospital in the early morning hours with a full moon overhead, and the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky all day long. A couple weeks ago I spent an hour watching two eagles circle over our home. It has mountains and forests and deserts, and I can’t wait to introduce you to the sea.

On the day you were born someone stood for what they believe in, sacrificed for the sake of others, spoke out against injustice, followed their dreams.

A wise man once named the three greatest virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. If you cultivate these in your life and let them shape the way you view the world, it will never beat you down. Not for good, anyway – you’ll always be able, and more importantly, find a reason to get back up.

I only hope you can see these virtues in my life in the brief moment in time we have together.

I feel like I should end with some profound advice, but I’m pretty sure in the coming year you are going to prove that everything I thought I knew is complete poppycock, so let’s leave advice until next year. (Assuming you’re not the one giving me advice by then.)

Love, Dad

Have a great 2016 y’all

Yes, in a total break with tradition on if all else fails… I’m actually writing my New Year’s post on New Year’s day. I said things were going to be different this year.

And to shake things up even further, I’ve decided to make a New Year’s Resolution. Not an intention, but an actual Resolution, with a capital ‘R’.

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So long, 2015

I started 2015 unemployed and in bed with a fever, and mused that things could only get better. That turned out to be somewhat prophetic, though I missed the bit about things first getting worse.

But things getting worse was probably the best thing that could have happened, because it convinced me to give up.

I will remember 2015 as the year I gave up. I gave up on further academic studies. I gave up on a career and a dream. I gave up on what I believed (and to come degree still believe) to be my calling and in the process gave up a significant part of myself.

Conventional wisdom says winners never quit. I say conventional wisdom is an idiot. A well-intentioned idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

For quitting freed me up to try something new. And it has paid off beyond my wildest dreams.

With little more than an hour left before I bid 2015 farewell, I look back and have to say that this was a great year. As awful as it started, and as discouraging as the first two thirds were, the final four months have surpassed my wildest imaginings.

As I told my colleagues when I wished them a happy New Year earlier, for the first time in many years I’m excited about the new year. Between my new job and the new adventure of fatherhood lying ahead, I can’t wait to see what 2016 will hold.

Happy New Year. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

On choosing me

My sister and I were very much church brats growing up. We weren’t pastor’s kids, but my first ever friend (and, for a few weeks in the fourth grade, fiancée) was. My father was head of the Sunday School (by second grade it was my job after church to run across to the school whose premises we used for Sunday School and unlock the classes before the others arrived) and organised all the church youth camps while my mother cooked for them. My first bee sting was at one of those camps.

The second Wednesday of each month was spent playing on the church office floor while my mother received the offerings collected by the deacons during home visits the previous week. Sunday mornings I sat with my dad among the elders, and my sister sat with my mum in the choir gallery.

This is going somewhere, promise…