Monday, December 01, 2008

BigDaddyRat - Lessons Learned

As I think back on the things that I learned from my Father, one thing strikes me. The lessons that I really took to heart; the things that are always with me and form the moral and theoretical underpinnings of who I am as a person; are the teachings that my Father didn't speak of but were conveyed to me through the way he lived his life.

There have been plenty of times when I've been fucked over in my life. Work, school, and athletics all provided me with plenty of gut wrenching and heart breaking experiences, some of which left me bitter and quite angry. Without ever saying a word the COL (as my Father is often referred to) managed to let me know that the idea of revenge was petty and beneath me. That any effort that I might have thought to put into some sort of hare brained scheme to get back at someone; to try and damage someone's reputation, to attempt to harm their business prospects, no matter how richly deserved; cheapened me as a person.

When I was being forged by these experiences, it always burned me to think that a person fucked me and "got away with it." In the fullness of time I have come to realize that's not true. You don't leave those situations with nothing, you come away from them more mature, more patient, wiser, but most importantly, you walk away with your dignity intact. There's no promotion, no amount of money, no possession that can replace your dignity.

The COL taught me about hard work; not by lecturing me about it, but by letting me see him working his ass off everyday. My Dad never had to tell me to get a job, when the time was right I decided for myself to start working. When I started working I gave it everything I had, it didn't matter that I was making minimum wage selling shoes at an outlet mall, it was a job and I owed it and myself my best effort. One of the biggest bursts of pride I ever felt in my life was when I was fucking up in school and my Dad told me he wasn't worried about me because I knew how to work. It was a powerful moment of validation that told me my Father accepted me as a man and knew that I had a man's resolve to overcome whatever obstacles were in my way.

Secure in the knowledge that I had my Father's respect as a working man, I always strived to make sure that I continued to be worthy of that respect. It is not always easy, there are the inevitable shortcuts to take and corners to cut when it comes to work. But what he ultimately taught me was there is right way to do things and wrong way and the choice to do the wrong thing is no choice at all.

Father, husband, athlete, warrior are all words used to describe the COL, there's no one who ever met BigDaddyRat that questioned his manhood. He was a man's man, from the bottom of his size 16 feet going up six feet six and a half inches to the top of the pointy head that we share. Tough and strong, smart and brave. These were the words that described my Father but through the way he lived his life he taught me that it was just as important (perhaps more so) that a man be kind and gentle, loving and merciful. There is no doubt that this is the most important lesson he taught me.

There are so many fucked up conceptions of manhood out there, I eternally humbled and grateful that I had a Father who showed me the right way to be a man. Who showed me with his every thought, word, and deed that the measure of a man is not kills on the battlefield or money in the bank or notches on the bedpost, but rather how does he use what he has to help others?

I love you Dad and I will spend the rest of my life trying to be a scintilla of the man that you were.


Knockout Ed said...

Great post. I'm with you man. My pops was a stubborn dude in a lot of ways but he always seemed to have this quiet confidence in me that I have carried with me throughout my whole life. Again, great post.

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