Just Grow Up

Have you ever heard of “sliding door moments”? I had not until I read a book by Sarah Wilson called “first we make the beast beautiful” (the beast in this case is anxiety). In the context of how Wilson was using the term I gleaned that it meant something important–something, if not transcendent, at least life changing. And I was right. Looking the term up on the internet I learned that it is defined as “opportunities in life where the decisions we make alter our very destiny.” Okay maybe it is transcendent–or at the very least, life altering.
I found the definition in an article by Deborah Murtagh called “Sliding door moments–Life’s moments that shape and define us…” She expands on the definition further by saying that sliding door moments are “Moments in which we turn left or right, towards change or toward more of the same. These are life’s pivotal moments in which new identities of ourselves are born and old paradigms and beliefs which no longer serve us fall away.” Well, that is a mouthful and a lot to take in–perhaps it could be more simply explained as deciding which way to go when we are faced with a fork in the road.
Wilson explains “sliding door moments” (or successful ones) as moments of grace–when things seem to come together through no fault of our own. I rather like her explanation, as it takes a bit of the weight off having to make a choice. But we all make these choices, and we make them many times not really knowing or understanding that they could have a profound effect on our lives. It brings to mind the song “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? by The Clash. Although, if you read the words, the responsibility of the life changing decision has been placed squarely in someone elses lap: “Should I stay or should I go now? /If I go, there will be trouble/And if I stay it will be double/So come on and let me know…”
Grace, defined by Wilson “is the “is-ness” of life presented to you, on a cracker, ready to eat.” She goes on to say “It’s an openness that plants you in the flow of the river. Grace doesn’t bring the party to town. It’s not happiness. It’s not a fleeting high. It’s a delicate, yet whole, gift that whispers in our ear, ‘Life has this one covered’. It tells us that things fit. That you fit. You can’t try to earn it or deserve it. It just is. Just as a flower doesn’t try to bloom. It just does.”
So, let us put all these seemingly disparate parts together. Murtaugh says that “sliding door moments” are “key decisions which shape and alter the course of our reality.” Wilson believes basically “it is what it is”, and The Clash want someone else to make the decision. Is this not life in a handbasket? We want to be able to make decisions that matter, that count–we want to have some control. Yet at times we would not mind having someone else take the helm–or just letting life take us where it wants and hope for the best.
Confused? Yeah, me too.
There are no easy answers. Yet we keep looking for them. Perhaps the answer is on page 297 of Wilson’s book. I will let you be the judge if it works for you, but it makes sense to me. These beliefs come from the American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, who, according to Wilson believes that “the journey we all need to do is the experiment of sitting in uncertainty…The ultimate endpoint…is growing up. The journey offers no promise of happy endings. Rather the part of ourselves that keep seeking security (when there isn’t any) and something to hold on to (when such a thing doesn’t exist) finally grows up.”
So, that is the answer: Grow up. Who knew it would be that simple (I ask ironically). Now forget all this crap, go out and enjoy June and the official beginning of summer.

Published in: on June 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm  Comments (3)  

Happy Dad’s Day!

“Handy as a pocket in a shirt” was one of my dad’s favourite sayings. I know it is not original to him, but it became one of the “dad-isms” that my family has come to cherish. Dad had a million of them, but for some reason that is the one that is most memorable to me.

What is a father? We all have a different answer to this– depending on our experience. But with Father’s Day coming up–the time is ripe to reflect on one of the the most important men in many of our lives. First and foremost, my dad loved his family–he was always there for me, and I suspect my brothers and sisters–but while we all had the same dad, we each experienced him differently. He loved and supported us all–but he supported each of us differently, I guess because we all had different needs.

When I was a little girl, then a preteen, a teen, and even a young adult without a licence, my dad would chauffeur me everywhere without question. And I mean everywhere. At any time. Sometimes he took his life in his hands when I just had to be somewhere, damn the weather. (I am amazed at the stupidity and urgency and selfishness of my youth.) When I was away at school and lived in residence, he would pick me up on Sundays and bring me home for Sunday dinner, then take me back to school on Monday morning, because it was on his “way to work”. It really wasn’t on his way–but at least it was in the same city. I fondly remember those 40-minute trips as time we had together to talk about things–his work, my schooling, our favourite houses on the way, and just life in general. I got to know him better during these trips–it was our uninterrupted time together.

Of course, he walked me proudly down the aisle at my wedding, and together with my mother “gave me away” by responding “we do” when the minister asked “who gives this woman in marriage”. As old fashioned as the tradition was, and as modern as I thought I was, I am still pleased that my dad (and mom) were there to give me away (a somewhat weird concept but one I am not going to question, lo, this 36 years later).

I miss my dad. I remember when I had a bookstore uptown a few decades ago, my dad would ride his bike uptown, get us both a coffee—and bring it to the store. That is how I would start my work day, with a coffee and little conversation with my dad. He was a funny guy, kind, and to my mind the best dad a girl could have.

He was also a musician–he could play the guitar, banjo, fiddle, ukulele, and a few chords on the piano. He played in a band with his dad and brother when he was a young man. At one time people would tell me they used to go to dances where my dad played. Those days are gone, as are the people who used to go to the dances. At home he was forever strumming on the guitar, something we took for granted–never really realizing his talent. After he retired, he returned to playing in a band–and nothing made him happier. I think it was then that I realized his talent, but still took it for granted. He passed his musical talent onto my eldest son–it skipped the generation of his own kids.

I would be remiss if I did not mention another father, my father-in-law, who quietly took over the mantle of “dad” after my dad joined a band in heaven. It was never official–never said aloud, but he served beautifully as my other dad. He was always kind to me, advised me more by his actions than words, and though he could not replace my dad, he was wonderful in his own way.

My husband is “dad” to my two sons. They give him a hard time sometimes–joking and kibitzing, but they respect and love their dad, who like my dad, is willing to do pretty much anything they ask. They are a bit “spoiled” that way, as I was. But I think we are allowed to do a bit of spoiling–after all, they are at an age now where they spoil us.

Father’s Day is an emotional day for me. And I must say I am a bit jealous of those whose dads are not memories–but I am happy for them. It makes me remember how lucky I was (and am to have the good memories.)

Published in: on June 12, 2018 at 12:47 pm  Comments (8)