Last night I had a dream. It lasted a nanosecond, I’m sure. Nevertheless, it weighed heavy on my chest in the early morning darkness. I woke with my gut wrenched and overturned. The pain made the details unforgettable. Two brothers, now grown men, reunite after a long separation. One reluctantly states they must go see their father after an even longer separation.
I remember them warily walking towards their father from a distance, in a Pacific Northwest forest. Towering Douglas Firs draped in lichens—old man’s beard lichens—surrounded them. Their mint green tone gave the forest a serene atmosphere. The dark forest opened to a remote cabin. Standing in front of the barn was their father, his back to them as he toiled over a project. When both sons approach, the father turns and his face instantly fills with glee but, it is short-lived as he slowly turns back to his busy project—his unending projects—that consume his life. The brothers scan around to see tools on benches scattered everywhere covered in snow. Some tools have rust on them from being excessively exposed to the elements. Unfinished projects. Ideas. Great ideas from their youth that dad never completed. Toy guns half carved-out of pine, toy knives and swords not so near completion. Piled-up projects. Dad wanted these boys to have fun but life just got in the way. He meant so well. Appointments, major repairs needed on stuff, work demands. My throat swells writing this as a lump lodges itself. Not because of childhood memories instead, because these are the things that haunt me today. I’m bothered by the machines we can easily become that fail to emit love because we are so busy creating good ideas that never come to fruition.
For every project that is completed and praised, a dozen whither and die either getting broken for being in the way or just set aside or lost. Beaver fur mukluks for my wife have been around here for the past 5 years, one boot finished, the other now lost, everyone tired of moving it from one table to another. Let me know when you find it, it has my good sewing needle, awl, and a roll of sinew inside. We ended-up buying new boots for her this week. Did I have priority issues? Will this become a theme? If so, what kind of memories will our kids have to look back on? I’m definitely a project guru that loves to get new ideas rolling…That lump backflips in my gut then starts crawling up my back…
As I write this, I think I know the answer. I think these projects don’t really matter as long as we are taking time to be together as a family. The rest is just stuff. Yeah, it would be fun to see kids battling with fancy wooden swords that look like they were handcrafted for King Arthur and his knights. But, my kids sword-fighting with two chunks of lumber from the woodpile is ok too. If dad can make time to grab a third stick and jump-in on the battle, now that’s even better. Keep activities simple enough that they actually occur without significant strife. Or, just be there. Be present. I mean really be present. Nothing else on your plate or hanging over your shoulders. Forget about it. It has to wait. It’s guaranteed anything you hold onto will show. Kids will read this on you. It will not bring nightmares later like the kind where family-time was neglected.
And the two brothers, their long separation from each other and from their father. For me it signifies the family turmoil in America and no one understanding why. Not acting to “nip it in the bud” before it magnifies into a uncontrollable beast. Forgiveness never carried out.
Rise-up and father with joy. Purposeful parenting. Accomplish life’s necessary feats and be productive with your family painting. I mean paint it right. This is our one chance right now to create the sweetest scene. “Productivity has nothing to do with time and everything to do with choices.”—G. Pereira. Choose loved ones. My subconscious mind put me in my place once again. Then my conscious thoughts deciphered and laid it all out. I get another chance. It was only a dream yet there is a hint of truth that is easily fixed.