April 16, 2009

Rules For Life

I remember a day from a time not so far past. I was walking down 42nd Street towards Times Square. It was the middle of July and the day was relatively warm. For a kid from L.A. the heat wouldn't have been noticeable but I was dressed in a suit and carrying a laptop. There was business to conduct.

The sky was blue and relatively free of clouds. The usual noises of the city surrounded me. Cars, taxis, buses and people all moving in every direction, semi organized chaos. I was lost in thought about someone who had offered to pepper my pike. I'll let you wonder what that means, it doesn't really matter.

As I walked someone stopped me on the street to ask directions. I laughed and told them that I was just another tourist wandering the streets. She looked at me and said that I looked so intent she assumed that I knew exactly where I was going and that I had to be a native. I smiled and told her that home was across the country and that I could answer any questions she might have about L.A.

Can't tell you what happened after that, I just don't remember. What I do remember was feeling like life was about to change, and I was right because my life did change.

Six years later I am standing outside of my house. Beneath blue skies peppered with clouds a boy with my hands is attempting to push me. For almost ten minutes he has tried every trick he can think of to cause me to give ground. I haven't told him, but these moments are getting harder for me.

He has grown bigger and stronger. More importantly he has grown more confident in himself and he knows that if he keeps trying he will eventually succeed. He knows this because I have drilled it into his head. Persevere, persist, keep trying, keep searching for the thing that works and you'll find a way. Practice, practice, practice and it gets easier.

I want him to win. I want him to beat me at this game and I hate the idea that one day he might. I don't let him beat me at everything. I don't let him win all the time. I want him to lose so that he learns how to deal with it. I want to force him to think about different ways of approaching the situation so that he might come up with a solution.

My feet are burning. The driveway is hot and I am beginning to notice the flames dancing from between my toes. Another moment and I am going to have to decide whether to let him win or if I should scoop him up like a sack of potatoes and go running.

Ego wins and he ends up thrown over my shoulder, but it takes a moment to get him up there. He has anticipated this move and attempted to counter it. For the moment size and strength are things that he can't compensate for and I win.

Laughing I launch us up the road at a sprint. A short time later I am hunched over, his old man is huffing and puffing a bit. Sprawled on the lawn we share a cold drink and talk. He wants to know what sort of rules for life there are. That is not exactly the question he asks, but it is close enough.

I tell him that the rules are simple. Try to be a good person and do what you can to be happy. He tells me that he wants more details and I smile and say that the rest is commentary. He doesn't catch the reference but he understands the part about happiness.

We talk more and share a few secrets. A moment later we are lying on our back staring at the sky and my mind wanders off. Within the last ten years or so I have stared at that same blue sky in Jerusalem, Toronto, London, New York, Chicago, Dallas and LA. And in each of those cities I have made a point of looking up at the night filled sky too.

Changes are coming. I feel it. Those moonlit nights and clear blue skies spoke to me. I think that I have known about these changes for a long time. Can't say exactly what is going to happen or how, I just know that change is coming and this time I think that I just might be ready for it.

Those rules for life I gave work when you let them, so that is what I am trying to do. Don't know if that makes much sense to anyone, but that's ok with me.

Time to try and get some shut eye, an old man like me needs more than three hours. See you in the AM. ;)


V-Grrrl said...

I am restless, not ready to let my life lapse into re-runs but finding it hard to break new ground and also care for my family. Not a unique dilemma. So many good things in my life but also a pervasive feeling I'm being smothered by them.

Jack said...

One of the great challenges is trying to find ways to prevent your own happiness from being completely subjugated by the needs of the family.