“I feel you should know the secrets and the wisdom that I keep.”
Every now and then I read or hear some turn of phrase that sets of a chain of decreasingly random thoughts. Maybe that isn’t quite right. It’s more like a thought fractal. The starting conditions aren’t random. It’s all based on data I take in over the course of time. The curiosity that drives this desire for input is expansive. I suppose that to an extent what I encounter may be random, but the drive to know what I’m seeing certainly isn’t. I once had a conversation with a taxi driver about his business model. You know, just in case I ever needed to know more than drive car, drive person, take money, repeat. Sometimes it leads to conversations with strangers leading to nothing of consequence. But, you just never know.
I actually talk to a lot of taxi drivers about random things. I once met a taxi driver in London who was from Belgium. We talked about the Belgian health care system. I’ll tell you, that was an enlightening conversation with a first person perspective that actually proved relevant to a course I was taking at Oxford. All of these encounters, and the things I learn from them, shape the pattern of my thoughts. I expect sometime shortly after my timely demise for it to wrap neatly into a Grand Theory Of Everything. I suppose I’ll make do for the rest of the time with winning at Trivial Pursuit; an aptly named game, don’t you think?
Where was I? Thought fractals, right. And then line at the top.
I heard the line at the top from a random rapper I stumbled across looking for an expired British pop band who comically shared the same name. Cosmic fate warping the pattern of my brain? Possibly. And that set the parameter for the following thought fractal.
Since Claire’s birth, the spare moments where I reflect wildly on the marrying of random thoughts in my head now frequently revolve around my role as a father. Yes, yes. I understand. More than this has changed, as I have previously addressed. But, today we’re talking about the ephemeral nature of my thought processes and where they tend to orbit. So, I’m not talking about diaper changing, puked on middle of the night let’s let mommy sleep moments. I mean. I suppose that’s a role for a father. That is to say, that is the day to day, or night to night as it frequently is, aspect of being a father. I’m looking more at the objective of being a father. The purpose. As Claire begins to engage more articulately with her environment, I’m reminded that the meat of the role of a parent is to equip the child adequately to mete out their own life.
More accurately I reflect on the ways I will invariably impact my daughter’s views on the world, life, the universe, everything. Or, to the quick, how small should the sieve be for the cacophony of random thoughts floating around my brain?
Because we all, I assume, want our kids to think for themselves. But, you know, in a way that happens to be remarkably similar, even inseparably so, to our own unique look on life. Right? It’s just nature. And genetics. Don’t forget genetics. Personality? Talk to me about genetics. That is the running conflict between children and parents. Parental happiness with your independent thought process is directly correlated with the sameness of your conclusions to their own. And, very often now, my train of thought derails into how scary that is. Not because of some weird let’s not be another brick in the wall variation on a brainwashing theme. My brain is prickly. It’s impulsive, tireless, pedantic, contrary, stubborn and just plain right.
The crux of the issue is I tend to just say stuff. I think I’m known for that. “That dude just, like *says* stuff” is what people say about me. And on my tombstone it will read “…and then it killed him.” I assure you, I’m perfectly normal. And the value assigned to all the dangerously random mating of thoughts in my head is zero. But, in the real world, you know, I may have unintentionally offended some people. Once or twice. Or so. And that’s the problem. My filter on what escapes my brain into the world through my mouth has to be triple checked every morning. I’ve got a lot of thoughts bouncing around in there.
My sense of humor is one that frequently long jumps the line of acceptable. Humor is a knife fight. Unfortunately for me, this axiom is, perhaps, less well known. It’s close, fast, personal and dangerous as hell. And when humor’s grace is on display, it can be showy, campy and exaggerated. And this can make people forget just how dangerous humor can be. Just reflect on any time you were in the presence of a person making an ill timed awkward dig. Or, watch The Office.
But, in the library that is my brain, the book on danger is stored adjacent to the great big book of fun. All of which is in its own massive subsection called humor. Maybe this isn’t so for everyone. Or, maybe they’re simply not as properly aware of the organization of their brain.
As a general rule, I consider nothing to be off limits for humor. That said, I’m not a complete maniac. I recognize the importance of a time and a place. But, you know, not because I’m overly concerned about how somehow will take a joke. More, because if I know they won’t take a joke very well, it isn’t particularly funny, is it? But, generally, I get away with a lot of impertinent jokes because I look younger and sweeter than I probably am. And, just for the record, I’m not any easier on myself.
But, that sense of humor is fairly vital to who I am as a person and how I handle the difficult moments in my life. Not just your had a bad day moments but, the genuine tragedies that can easily trap a person psychologically in that moment for the rest of their life. It’s a skill. But, so is using a knife or a gun. And, in a home invasion, most gun owners are killed with their own weapon when it becomes involved.
In short, I worry about how I should properly break this skill down for Claire. Some of you know I taught martial arts for awhile. One of the styles I took was based on what the soldiers learn for hand to hand combat. No forms. Just straight forward, simple techniques to defend yourself. Very aggressive self defense, I’ll admit. And, the lesson from this is that people can learn just enough to make them dangerous to themselves. It seems so straight forward that people generally think they are more proficient than they are. And that’s dangerous. So, how do I avoid this trap with Claire?
People can think fondly of a person with an acerbic wit. But, most people who are just acerbic have issues. And, I think it’s fair to say that making Claire just acerbic would be a failure of the main objective for this whole make a human thing.
It’s an unnervingly awesome responsibility. And, in this sense of the word, the responsibility isn’t that far from potentially awful results. I know that mistakes will be made. But, I’m nervous as hell that one of them will stick. I’m nervous as hell about which one it will be that does stick. Because, at some point in my life I will, in all probability, make a mistake that will permanently stick in the mind of my child and color her understanding of the world with indelible ink.
It’s equally true that I will, in all probability do a number of things right that will permanently color her understanding of the world with the same indelible ink. The stakes are high. A human life hangs in the balance of my judgment. Which is just ludicrous. I’ve made a fairly substantial wager based solely on the notion that if humanity in general has managed to keep a chain of several billion links growing steadily over millennia, I should just relax and not try too hard to fight the flow of human events. But, the question “knowing what you know, can you tell me what you don’t know” continues to seem relevant to this effort.
The idea is that with all of the other beautifully done ink, she won’t think of the inevitable black mark against my reign as anything more soul wrenching then you might regard a smudge on the wall. It’s there. No one is happy that it’s there. But, you know, with all the other pretty in the room, who cares about a smudge on the wall?
What I do know is that while these thoughts and this responsibility are, quite frankly, terrifying I am having about the most fun a person can possibly wrench out of life.
Whew. Head rush.
There is an unrelated picture. No reason.