We should be amazed at how well human emotions feign happiness. As a test– The next time someone greets you, check your response. Odds are, a “Lately I’ve been disappointed by human nature.” Or, “I’m just not that crazy about life right now” will never see light of day. No, more than likely you’ll default to “I’m doin’ just fine. How ’bout you?” even though happiness lives at the bottom of your aching heart, beneath a stack of nasty emotions. We are taught at an early age to suppress sadness and the process of concealing genuine emotions becomes routine by the time we are young adults. I have often felt that I like to listen to sad songs when I’m unhappy because the music forces honesty upon my emotions. I have been listening to too many of them lately.
Something else that’s pretty pathetic– How those same emotions can become ensnared by the petty and trivial. The other day I was fuming through my kitching looking for a reason to explode. I was even annoyed by the sound of Madeline and her friends laughing in the playhouse that I finally managed to finish. I looked out at that structure lamentably: Fewer squared-off right angles than a hotair balloon, the door was more crooked than a Cook County Democrat and the door bell was hung on the wrong side. My Dad was pretty handy with these sort of things. He would have done much better. And in half the time. I’ll be honest, there are so many times I wish I still had my Dad around. As a matter of fact, I would gladly part with every limb on my body just to have him back for a year.
I’d prefer not to go in to too much detail, but Dad’s life didn’t end as we would have wished. He spent the last decade of his life alienating most of the people who cared about him. He loved to bicker, and to the point of exhaustion. But, somehow, I was fortunate to have escaped his scrutiny. That I was able to enjoy his companionship over the last two years of his life I consider a miracle. In that time we managed to make multiple trips together to Belgium, to visit with family and to drink as many Duvels as humanly possible. We also made two trips to the International Boat Show, In Miami. Dad’s dream was to one day live aboard and captain a 42 foot Grand Banks Classic– A truly gorgeous vessel. Although my brother Curt will tell you otherwise, I was to be his first mate. Sadly, Dad’s untimely death wouldn’t allow this dream fulfilled.
Dad sweat the trivial. And neglected the important. I can’t repeat his mistakes. No, I won’t. Because if I fail to learn from his death than I blow the opportunity to give greater meaning to his life. And I’m a good son– Something I hear him telling me often. My priority is in the backyard, joyfully playing with her friends in the playhouse that I built. My priority is the wife that can tolerate me when I transpose those priorities, but appreciates my overtures at redemption. My priority is the principles with which I choose to live by, so that when it comes time for the review of my life, I can say with sincerity that my energies were focused on what was important.
Now I’m gonna go listen to some happy songs, and then run a marathon in Louisville. Wish me luck.
Naturally, trying to hide from my birthday was about as successful as ignoring a sunrise. Thanks for all the nice birthday wishes. I’m impressed that some of you managed to remember, even without the helpful Facebook reminder. 38 was an intriguing age, dotted mostly with highlights and lots of personal growth. I managed to fall even deeper in love with my wife, Suki. And watching her finish her first half marathon this past October was an ethereal gift. I also gained an even greater respect and admiration for our daughter, Madeline– whose skillful mastery of everything she touches makes those monotonous and painful 18 months I spent as her stay at home Dad seem like a small price to pay. On the personal front, 38 was the age when I figured out how to kick Diabetes in the ass! Pretty effing awesome, right??!! Turns out the secret was self-control and moderation. SURPRISE! I have been preaching the power of the human spirit for too many years without testing the theory on myself. Nice to see some results-oriented validation. And it’s true– with the right combination of commitment and sacrifice there is simply nothing that cannot be accomplished by the human spirit. Nothing.
In November of 2011 it was my privilege to hear a great man make a bold proclamation: “If you hold everything you have in your hand, that’s all you’ll ever have.” I belaboured the meaning of those words for quite some time. 38 will be the age that I think I finally figured it out– life is about experiences. And that oftentimes you will have great days where there is so much joy in your heart that everything your gaze falls upon will turn into flowers. And other days, life might make you feel like you could f*ck up your own funeral. Life is good. And life can be hard. But it’s always interesting. As it should be.
So 38 became the age that I took on some interesting, new challenges. I will soon be a Big Brother with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Missouri. Definitely out of my comfort zone. But the trepidations I feel assure me that this is the right thing to do. 38 was also the age I spent an entire month booze and sugar free. I would have to go back as far as my freshman year in high school since that little miracle last occurred. Felt good too. It will happen again. 38 was the age I also decided to start a blog. I have been seeking a creative outlet that doesn’t involve monopolizing the ether of Facebook– www.straffelycke.com will be published shortly. More deets on that on at a later date. BTW, expect awesomeness.
I’m honestly not too jazzed about 39. Seems old. I guess I could content myself with the fact that I still have a gorgeous mane of strawberry blond hair and that I am still better looking and smarter than Curt Lycke. But then again, he DOES drive a BMW. How can i compete with that? Now 40, on the other hand, strikes me as ripe with potential: Will I get a convertible? Will I take up international jet-setting as a hobby? Or will I start sewing patches on the elbows of all my jackets and sweaters and satisfy my lust for life with a nice bowl of Kashi? One thing’s for damn sure– I’m gonna throw one helluva bash. I’ve already booked an entire week at Stripper Island. And you’re all invited. Just make sure you bring some singles.
To my friends- I treasure you like gold. Thanks for being a valuable part of my existence, and for making this flemish Belgian’s life so damn interesting.