Ah kids. They enter our world, turn it upside down, and at some point we realize that we had it all upside down in the first place.
In my thirties, I had no immediate plans for having children. Managing a growing company, working a morphing athletic career, and looking at a rapidly changing world, inspired no confidence in myself to manage the additional responsibilities of a child. Let alone two.
My wife at the time, Ronnie, had other ideas. So in the course of three years, when what I had assumed were foolproof measures that we were taking to avoid conceiving children, mysteriously failed, we became the parents of two boys, Joshua and Jonathan.
That was a double shock. With a large number of employees, spread across a few companies that I was responsible for, watching my sons be born had about equal cachet to being hit in the head by a baseball bat, when in fact, I had thought I was already sliding across home plate.
I did several things at that point in my life. One of those involved a lot of struggle. Like a rabbit caught in a snare, I flailed against the new responsibility emotionally. I simply did not see it coming. But as I eventually settled in to the task of learning to be a Father, I knew that at some point, I would be leaving my wife over the issue of these two little gifts being conceived.
So as the years passed and I eyed the door in a resolute, yet furtive manner ( I never spoke of it to a soul), I discovered what it meant to be beholden. Where you owe a debt. As the daily struggles played out, I found that the entity I owed the most to was my children, and of course the wife who I felt had betrayed me.
In time as the divorce process played out, and my future ex life partner and best friend sat across from me with a very kind Santa Barbara attorney mediating, I was surprised when the man turned to our boys and asked them: “All right guys, of your parents, who do you think that you would like to live with?” No matter how much a person thinks that they are ready for this, wants it, is prepared, there always is an element of ummm, instability at times like this.
I was shocked and in the next instant saddened, as I saw Josh and Jon point to me, and almost simultaneously the look in my soon to be ex’s eyes, of realization, regarding the things to come. We all went home, and in a relatively short time after that, Ronnie was alone in a Condo, and I was living in the home we had shared together, with Josh and Jon, and embarking on my newish career in Photography and Cinematography.
So on this Thanksgiving, and indeed every day of my life, I have no choice but to face that I am forever beholden to my ex wife. The catalyst for great work, was the gift she gave me of our two sons. Life is work by the way. What I am telling you is that my world today is the product of the bond and blessing that come from having Joshua and Jonathan in my life. That was a woman’s vision. Not mine. I can never repay that. I divorced her. Smiling I realize that maybe today, she feels that act was payment: being rid of me.
A friend and mentor of mine is Dr Ed Brenegar who I met through Seth Godin’s organization, Triiibes. Ed is a Leadership coach, and in his long list of attributes, has a site called Say Thanks Every Day. He has hit on something incredibly transformational and creative with this concept. For in realizing that every moment of every day we are beholden for the gift that is our life, well, there is incredible creative power in that. I suggest that you get to know Ed and his work. We each need that kind of power. Here is HIS Thanksgiving message.
Someone sent me something very appropriate this week. I hope that it blesses you this Thanksgiving.
A mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Kuwait ?’
Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Vietnam ?’
Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Korea ?’
Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die on Iwo Jima ?’
Another mother asked a President… ‘Why did my son have to die on a battlefield in France ?’
Yet another mother asked a President… ‘Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg ?’
And yet another mother asked a President … ‘Why did my son have to die on a frozen field near Valley Forge ?’
Then long, long ago, a mother asked..
‘Heavenly Father .. why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem ?’
The answer is always the same… ‘So that others may live and dwell in peace, happiness, and freedom.’
We are all beholden for the gift of our families, communities, and this great Country we have inherited. I hope this Thanksgiving seeds a renewed sense of hope and fresh perspective for you. Even if all around you right now feels like the image below.
Here is an interesting tribute that someone compiled, to Johnny Cash and his wife June, based on the song “Hurt”, Cash’s last project. Funny thing about Johnny Cash. I can almost see his house from where I sit writing this Thanksgiving note.
You matter. It will all work out. Happy Thanksgiving.