Nate came through the revolving door at the airport, saw me and ran straight into our hug. His first visit back to New Mexico since his move east one year ago. Seeing how much he’d grown and matured, I just let myself feel the pride, love and happiness circulating within me at that very moment. We walked to pick-up his bags, caught up in the conversation of re connection. I marveled at how much he had changed. He was so hip and so savvy. He was coming into his own at 14. I wondered to myself about the meaning and significance of being a father in the year 2017.
How You Are in the World
How you are in the world – in my opinion, is significant in fatherhood. What you (and I) represent is reflected in how we move through the world. We have a responsibility in life. Our physical and emotional footprint is the pathway for our sons and daughters ( and loved ones). We are the providers and protectors. Our presence creates calm and security in a world that is fast, chaotic and volatile. We are merchants of kindness, strength and wisdom and the impact of this is:
- Our children depend on us.
- Our wives and partners rest on us.
- Our community looks up to us.
When we can bring ourselves fully into the here and now, while avoiding being fused to outside beliefs and constructs, we establish a foundation of care, trust and intention. Men are made of iron and blood, forged by initiation, ceremony, war and destiny. We are the good sheppard, who mindfully tend his sheep. Yet, when we are caught up in our old behaviors, characters and beliefs, we are distracted, reactive and fearful. We find it impossible to be present or available to those closest to us. Our homes and communities wither like a drought parched landscape. The youth around us begin to question, struggle, falter or rebel. What was once whole, begins to break down.
So what to do?
Here are but a few suggestions that I practice as I relate to the ones I love:
- Be present for your sons, daughters, partners and wives..
- Ask of them to be open and tell you what is alive for them. Then listen and do not interrupt or defend. Just listen.
- Be open. Let go of your old belief systems or patterns – no matter how much it hurts.
- Look into the eyes of those you most care about when listening. This is important and powerful.
- Let fear be there, but do not react to it.
- Turn off your electronic devices while communicating with others; especially your loved ones.
- Do your work of self-discovery. The more you grow, the more your life will affect those around you.
No father can be perfect. But we can be true to who we are. The more we self-explore, the more we can offer to our family, friends and community. I have learned this first hand.
As we head out to catch the train, in a typical Monsoon downpour, I see how the behavior I model impacts on my son. He looks to me for guidance and assurance. He wants to impress me with who he’s become. But perhaps more importantly, he looks to me as a mirror into himself… that is what being a father means to me.