Good morning, gang.
I’ve some freshly-brewed, piping-hot Cuban dark roast you’re gonna love. Rinse out your cup over there, and I’ll pour some for ya. . . .
“I’m not done. Death doesn’t get me that easy. I’m not going down without a fight and the fight’s not even close to being over yet.”
If there were a message I’d like to roll up, stick into a clear glass bottle, seal it and toss it into the ocean, this would be among my Top 10.
Another: “I’m not here to live up to anyone else’s expectations. I’m here to live up to the potential God had in mind when He chose to leave me here with another shot at life.”
Some day when I grow up I’ll know more of what that is.
The first 40 years of childhood are always the hardest. Okay, stop slobbering that dunked Oreo on your keyboard. I’m only being half-funny.
Part of who and what I now am is that I’m the fifth of five. No big wow, that. Well, except that the eldest 3 are all about 20 years older than I am. Number 4, the next eldest brother, is right at 10. As in years. I “grew up” essentially a single child whose parents were the age of all my friends’ grandparents; and whose siblings were the age of all my friends’ parents.
Mm-hmm. And their kids were all around my age. My eldest niece was 3 months older than me. You could say I had an, ah, interesting childhood.
I still am.
It’s taking me at least a lifetime to grow up – if I ever do. My hair’s gray–which its been since age 30–my body’s 60 and part of my mind knows it has to occasionally assume the aura and trappings of adulthood. Okay, parts of my anatomy are a bit more long in the tooth than that, but that doesn’t stop me from riding world-class roller coasters with my son and wanting to skydive.
The other part wants to play, forever thinking young and exploring, as if getting up on a chair and checking out the munchie possibilities on top of the fridge, reaching for a childhood never really there. Upon occasion I’ve had adult friends ask with a grin, “What–you getting into your second childhood?” I generally grin back and tell ’em the truth: “Nope. I’m still working on my first one.”
I know what they’re seeing. They’re trying to get a handle on someone who looks and sounds dignified but who is likely at any point to think and act younger than they expect. I get that. I do. I’m still trying to get a handle on it, too.
It stung as a kid when my big brothers and sisters would come to visit, leave me with their kids – my nieces and nephews -and go do something fun together. It bugged me in high school and college when we’d be socializing after a concert or play and my friends would ask, “Those your grandparents?” while looking around for my dad and mom.
Long decades of living have passed. So have Mother and Daddy. I’ve learned a few things across those years I’ll share with you in hopes it might connect with someone dealing with some of the same frustrations.
- When you’re ten years old, dreams are certainties that just haven’t happened yet. Once I prayed to grow up fast so I could be accepted by my siblings. I now receive with joy the extra life God’s granted me to love them where they are, yet to move on into this extended youth and lengthened life to reach for God’s finest available to me. The adult in me is troubled at technology’s tools I didn’t grow up with, but the forever-young man in me wants to never stop learning.
- There’s very limited value in stressing over things you can’t control. Nothing from my birth to now was anyone’s fault. Things and events were what they were. My big brother and sisters had their own challenges, coming to Daddy and Mother’s house and being confronted by a little brother 20 years their junior wanting to tag along with them. I don’t blame ’em; I wouldn’t have wanted me hanging with them, either. Wouldn’t have had a clue what to do with me. I love them all as much as I’m capable and greatly respect them. But I’m authentic enough to admit I never really knew them, nor they me.
- In this life you never get to understand everything. But you do get enough to prove there’s Somebody a lot bigger, wiser, more knowing and infinitely more creative calling the shots if allowed. I’m not my brothers or sisters; I am myself and no one else. I am proud of each of them and of what they have accomplished in life–AND for what each of them has contributed to The Raising of Dan. I wish for them to be proud of me, too. But I’m not waiting around for approval to press on with who, what, where and how God is leading me. When one commits–defines one’s ‘Why’–change starts happening. Commitment drives results–one’s ‘How’.
- Inspiration doesn’t favor those who sit still. It dances with the daring and rewards the courageous with ideas that excite, challenge, even inspire. Ideas that take you places you never imagined. Ideas big enough to make the heart skip a beat… and in some cases maybe two. I didn’t write that; it came from a Toyota commercial. But it grabbed my attention because it’s just the sort of thing I believe and write.
Dysfunctional? It’s a word that attaches all too easily to ‘politically correct’. I’m glad I grew up when I did because we were tougher and more resilient. “Dysfunctional”? Not so’s you’d notice. We accepted and understood authority’s value, just as we accepted that choices always had consequences. When our choices brought unwelcome consequences, we sucked it up and took our lumps. And when we ‘done good’, we expected to receive value for the extra effort.
I don’t know where you find yourself somewhere between these words, friend, but I want to encourage you: use nothing in your past to allow you to sit still. No matter how troubling, regardless of how it might have injured your self-worth at the time, understand this:
You and you alone are responsible for who, what, where and how you will be from here on.
Your challenge for the week: sit down and make your own Top 10 list of things you’d write to somebody else to encourage and lift them. Take time to think about them. Think about somebody Out There at the end of frustration’s rope, wondering if anyone else Out There could possibly understand or care.
I mentioned dignity earlier. Some expect it of you while neglecting to exemplify it themselves.
Dignity is not always easy. But it is always possible. Hmmph? The roller coaster deal? Hey, HE was an adult, too. And we had to ride the second one as a comparison test. It’s all good. It was clinical. And, no, my doctor draws the line at skydiving. Sometimes she’s just NO fun. ‘Course, she’d have to get in line at the viewing. Babycakes would put me down if I tried. Can’t blame me for wanting to, though. I’m still a kid at heart!