Daddy Performs For the Neighbors; Yardwork; Happiness

brick
I Am The Sun

It’s Springtime, and there are all kinds of projects to be done (or more likely half-done) in our yard.  One such project involved the use of bricks as landscaping material.  As this particular project was in the “half-done” column, there were still a few bricks strewn about the yard.  My son, Stegosaurus (2.5 years old) had moved these bricks into a line, and was cautiously standing on the first brick, one foot on the brick, and one foot raised slightly above the ground.  We made eye contact, and the look on his face told me that some brilliant idea had just popped into his toddler brain.

He hopped down and said, “You stand on the brick.” I quickly obliged (This being my fourth two year old, I knew I really didn’t have much of a choice) and stood as he had, on the brick.
“Now sing.” he ordered.
“Sing?” I asked, “Okay…what would you like me to sing?”
The Planet Song.”

Stegosaurus settled in on the porch.  I cleared my throat and began.  Just as I belted out, “I am the Sun,” I noticed my neighbor walking by.  I was not too far from the sidewalk, and in plain view.  Stegosaurus (still on the porch) was obscured by a wicker rocking chair, and was also the only other person outside at the moment.  So there I was.  Balanced on a brick and singing (apparently) to myself.  I couldn’t bring myself to finish the song until the neighbor was out of sight.

What Is That!?

While we were outside, I took some time to clear off the bit of sidewalk that goes from the porch to the road.  When I had nearly finished, Little T-Rex (7) walked out and exclaimed, with both shock and excitement in his voice, “What is that!?” Pterodactyl (5) followed closely behind him and shouted, “It looks like…a walkway!”  I guess I had neglected the yard work for a little longer than I thought.

Setting An Example

I had a friend, who has recently passed, that I spent a good deal talking to about..well..everything.  I had once told him that I wanted my kids to be happy (Isn’t that what we all want?), and without missing a beat he asked me, “Well, are you setting a good example?” I had never thought of it that way.  But, just like anything else, if we want our children to be happy we need to model happiness.  We need to take care of ourselves, and we need to be aware of our emotions, habits, and thoughts, and their effect on our overall well-being.  The best way to have happy kids is to be happy ourselves.

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Understanding Our Stories

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you
don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not
doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or
less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have
problems with our friends or family, we blame the other
person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will
grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive
effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason
and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no
reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you
understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh

There are a lot of things about myself that I would like to change.  My eating habits, my organizational habits, my tendency to put things off, my fear of failure.  I have been going about the process with the idea that I just need more self control, or I just need more grit, or a commitment, or a magic word, or a rubber band around my wrist that I can snap every time I reach for a brownie.  And while these can be good things, they aren’t really working for me.  In fact, they never have.  Why then, would I continue to use methods that do not work?  Because I believe they work.  I have written them into my story.

From the moment we are born, we are writing a story, the story of our perception of reality.  This story covers every aspect of our lives, and answers questions such as “Can people be trusted?”  “Am I worth loving?”  “What is Truth?”  “What is Justice?” or “What will it take to make me happy?”  Most of the important questions are answered before we even know we are asking them.  Each of us has written a unique story, and none of them are perfect reflections of reality.

In the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant, each man experiences a different part of the elephant, and each man comes away with a different idea of what the elephant is, and what it’s for.  Each man possesses the same amount of truth regarding the elephant, but what they have to gain from each other is perspective.  So it is with our stories.  None is any more or less true than the other.  We do not need to seek truth from others, we have it within ourselves, but what we do need to seek is perspective.  With understanding, and without judgement, there is much that we can learn from our fellow humans, about life, and about ourselves.

But other people are not the only ones who need our understanding.  We need to stop judging and blaming ourselves.  There is a reason for our behavior, and if our behavior needs to change, it is easier done with love and understanding than with any amount of self control.