Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life Lessons after 25 (ish) – Part 2

Turning yet another page in the calendar of my life, I can’t help but create another set of “lessons learned” (granted, I would  NOT say that I am done learning these lessons and truly live by them. But I really want to):

1. Don’t reserve saying I love you for special occasions. Just do it. Your tongue isn’t going to fall off. I promise.

2. Try not to try too hard. Shit is going to hit the fan anyway. You might as well not rush the process.

3. People don't change; they become more and more themselves. Mary Karr, the author of many cool books, wrote: "Every woman signs up thinking that her husband will change...every husband signs up believing his wife won't: both dead wrong."

4. The more you worry about the others, the more the Universe is going to extend its helping hand to you. Try it! It really works.

5. It’s not going to seem like the right choice every day, but still do try to marry someone you can’t live without (as oppose to someone you can live with).

6. It’s tough enough that children don’t come with an instructions manual or returns and exchanges policies; on top of that they’ve got you in the palm of their tiny little hands waaaaaay before they are even born. Basically, you are screwed before you know it, and you LOVE it anyway.

7. Time doesn’t really heal. Just covers up the symptoms. Like Tylenol. Hey, better than nothing.

8. Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world” (and I would add “stop whining that nothing good ever happens. Make it happen.”)

9. A recipe for a tasty therapy: 2 cups of flour (give or take), 1 egg, milk (enough to make a gooey mixture). Mix it all up, add some oil on the pan and start making blintzes. Listen to your heart through out the process.

10. Martha Beck taught me this one: The best way to be endlessly fascinating and attractive to others, is by creating an amazing, fascinating life for yourself, focusing on all the things you love do and be. So, get busy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I am Sam

This morning started not unlike any other: shut off the alarm at 4:45 am, got out of bed, turned TV on. The news channel reported ugly news and pretty weather. I never stray from the news, almost religiously absorbing the onslaught of information, yet this morning something was pushing me to change up my normal routine. I started flipping the channels. I stumbled on the movie called "I am Sam", which is about a mentally retarded father (Sam) who fights for custody of his daughter. I've never seen the movie in its entirety (and it’s been out for almost 10 years!) Probably for the same reason I've never watched the “Schindler's List” in its entirety. Reason: I am a chicken. I am afraid that I might see that something which will tip the scale of my sanity and I won't be able to go on...But this morning, I couldn't help it. Through the thick blanket of tears I watched the tender and heart-wrenching moments including the scene when, after a court hearing, Sam’s daughter is being ripped out of his arms to be sent to a foster home.
I cried like a baby. Or should say like a grown woman. I have found that if we are truly honest with ourselves, most of the time we cry NOT just purely because we feel someone else's pain. No. We cry because this pain, or at least its seeds, resides within us, repressed or expressed. Listen, I am no dummy. I know I am impressionable and I know that it’s a romanticized version, "based on a true story”. A Hollywood fiction of sorts. I get it. But the movie tells an important story and illustrates a universal truth (at least it seems to me as such). This movie is about how to be a good human being. It’s about unconditional love, which is THE most important ingredient in the often messy, sometimes inedible, sometimes earth-shuttering soup called parenthood. I cried because I didn't recognize myself in Sam as much as I wanted to. I want to be THAT kind of a parent. Always. Every day. No breaks and no exceptions! A saying goes: "be the person your dog thinks you are". Kids are closer to the natural world because they can intuitively spot a fake. I want to be the person my son thinks I am.
There is an old story about three men, who are allowed to ask for one wish to be fulfilled by the Almighty. The first man asks for more wisdom, the second one asks for more patience and the third asks for a cup of coffee. The first two men look at him, puzzled. The third man just shrugs his shoulders and says, "everyone asks for what they don't have enough of”. I wouldn’t mind more patience and wisdom, but if I could ask the Almighty for one thing it would be to help me be a better parent, with an unshakable ability to love unconditionally, no expectations, no judgment, no baggage, in a pure uncomplicated way, every day. It’s the hardest and the most important quality to attain. But I guess everyone does ask for what they don’t have enough of. Perhaps it’s pedestrian and not unique, but I don’t care. You could say that from now on, I am a Sam wannabe.
"Will you not be mad at me for one second? Because I want to tell you one thing, OK? Because last night, I was writing you a letter...and then the words, they got too big. Gesundheit, Floppy. Floppy has a cold.

And then I said...

Dear Lucy, I'm sorry I maybe hurt your feelings…and I was thinking about you all the time.

Lucy on a hammock…

and Lucy at school...

and Lucy in the sky and kisses and hugs, Daddy.

And P.S. I love you, like the song."

I am Sam, 2001