Parenting 102

So I have to write this down because there is a certain level of brilliance that I don’t want to forget. 

As part of an ongoing my wife and I are having based around Rob Bell’s (and I’m sure others’) notion of an expanding universe, creativity, spiritual life, etc., my wife, in a moment of pure clarity and self realization, massively busted our own parenting chops. 

Here’s the story:

Our boys are probably some of the most creative kids I know, of course I am a little biased because they are my boys, I see a lot more of them than other kids. Not two days ago I was expressing to my wife how frustrated I sometimes get with our oldest son and his seemingly continual “upgrading” of his creations. He makes things all the time, costumes, lego stuff (rubber band shooters, Star Wars ships, candy dispensers, etc.), hand puppets, you name it, he’s probably made it out of something. Which is awesome, right?

Absolutely! But my frustration, pretty ridiculous now in hindsight, is that he never plays with the stuff he makes. He just makes it, then makes it better, then changes it, then starts over…

So fast forward to yesterday morning where my wife spends nearly two hours making a dinosaur train costume for our youngest son. Of course wants to add to it, because that’s what our boys do. He’s great until yesterday evening, when he wants to make another dinosaur train costume, to which my wife replies, rather sternly to both boys, something along the lines of, “I’m sick and tired of you boys making stuff, and remaking it, and changing it, and…” Then curiously, she stopped and said, “fine.” To which my boneheaded self completely missed the reason she stopped, so I stepped in to continue the sermon. I probably droned on for at least 5 minutes, until dinner was ready.

The fast forward again to last night as we are laying in bed, decompressing the day, as we typically do. My wife looks over at me and says, “you know what? We’ve spent a lot of time talking about an expanding universe, how creation is itself expanding, growing, getting better, improving upon itself. You know what else? We just railed on our boys tonight for being too creative, for doing the exact thing they have evolved to do: create, make things better. That’s what this whole thing is doing, right?”

To which I replied, “Shit! Are you serious? We just spent the evening telling our boys to limit themselves. Don’t do what you’re created to do… Wow, we can be real dumbasses.” We spent the next 15 minutes or so laughing at our own ineptitude and yet again, struggling through what it means to be a parent, a parent who gives a damn about what kind of kids they raise. 

I think my wife spent a good part of the morning talking to the boys about how mommy and daddy screwed up last night and that at the core of our being, we do not ever want to limit who or what they can be. I think honesty and some authentic self evaluation can go a long way. 

That said, I’m not sure that second dinosaur train costume is going to get made…

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Energy

What sort of energies am I putting into the world? What is my role in this greater cosmic scheme? How can my space, my self, my existence continue to expand and in what ways can I make that expansion a real and lasting reality?

I don’t really have any answers and as is usually the case, the more answers we seek, questions bubble to the surface in abundance. If however, I become a person who surrenders to the flow of this cosmic sea, understanding that all things are connected, then maybe true goodness is within reach. Many scholars and mystics alike suggest that words have power, not just the power of persuasion or converting anger, but actual, physical power. 

Again, if all things are connected, including my desires and the pulse of the universe, what happens when I align those things? If my hope for life is to become a being who is fully awake, wrecklessly loving and infinitely generous, why would I not speak those things into my present reality and begin to live as if those things are actually true? With that in mind, maybe I should start operating under the assumption that in our intimate connectedness with the ENTIRE universe and all that is created and continually evolving, that these desires are not in fact a selfish desire, but a movement toward good that envelopes my wife, my kids, my neighbors, friends, family and hopefully, the whole world. 

If something is truly good, it must be good for everyone, the whole of all that we know. Likewise, I agree with Rob Bell in that, if god is love and love is good, it must be a good for everyone, not just the ones who make intellectually decisions about what to believe and what not to believe. That love must in fact penetrate into every crevice and corner of the universe, covering everything. In a sense, we are swimming in a massively interconnected ocean of love, expansion, growth and plenty. 

It is in that sense that the pin cuts to my very core to see certain leaders of an enormously rich country… choosing not to live in love and compassion, but rather divide and label, it’s us and them and thankfully we are the good guys… Really?

My Christian upbringing taught me that if I say the correct prayers, read my bible enough, attend church enough and intellectually decide that Jesus is my own personal savior, having achieved all those things, I would have a place in heaven when I die, somewhere else (yes, it was as bad as it sounds). That mindset released me of joining the life and movement of this world for so many years. But now, I could never go back. The current that I am caught up in is taking me forward, yes into suffering, of course into pain, obviously into places that scare the hell out of me, but that’s life. I can’t ignore the Syrian refugees because we are connected. My heart aches for the native tribes in the Dakotas because we all are created from the same stuff. I can’t turn off that pain with a prayer, and frankly I don’t want to. 

So coming back around to energy. My desire is to be fully integrated into this thing we call life. I refuse to bury my head in the sand. I deeply desire good for ALL people, not just a lucky few. I hope for the freedom and the resources for my own family that we can be in a place where we join our family, friends and neighbors both locally and across the globe, in life, the be love and compassion for the “least of these.”