Appreciating the Complexities of Life

My dad reads every medical journal there is. He knows everything. The other day he says, “Paul, you know, most strokes happen on the toilet.” What am I supposed to do with this information? Go in the yard?

I have a better relationship with my dad now than I ever had. For years I carried around resentment about something my dad yelled when I was eleven, “You’ll never amount to anything.” I had failed to sweep the floor properly. My dad had a janitorial job at night and he took his seven sons to help out. I remember thinking, “I will never be doing this grunt work, I will never be like you.”

I worked to be nothing like him, and I’m just like him. Rarely do I allow myself to enjoy leisure, enjoy a movie, enjoy watching a ball game without having to being doing something productive along with it. I always feel behind. Sunsets are mere disappointments showing me the day is over and I haven’t gotten enough done.

Years ago I want back to the building we used to clean. This was when everyone was getting in touch with their inner child. I went there to forgive my dad. As I stood there outside by a window, I realized that I was the one who had been so hard on myself all these years and so critical of my dad. I had been carrying this around with me for twenty years. It wasn’t about forgiving my dad. He yelled at me that night and at other times, but for twenty years I made him wrong, I made him stupid. Worse I made myself go about each day as if I had to prove something, I had to produce.

Over the years I have acquired a lot more respect for my dad. I see him as Bobby Knight, a guy with intensity who sometimes went too far, but that’s only because of his passion for life. The more esteem I have for my dad, the more esteem I have for myself. As I get older I am acquiring much more appreciation. I can have compassion for myself, my father and everyone in this life trying to make the best of it, even republicans. (I’ve come a long way)

I may not feel I accomplished enough today, I rarely do, but I don’t want that to be reason for me not to seek joy, not to say everything is happening just as it should be. I’m right here for me, I always will be.

As I get older life gets worse but I appreciate it more. When I get a headache, it’s never just a headache – I’m thinking tumor! This is it, I’m toast. But I also appreciate so much more. Little things like going to the bathroom. It used to slow up my day, now if I have a bowel movement it makes my day! I’m on the toilet five minutes ahead of time. Afterwards I celebrate. I call home, “Hey, Pop, it’s Paul. I’m regular! Yeah, it’s the right color. And I didn’t have a stroke.”

It’s the little victories that count.

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