In a culture of MapQuest and GPS, I encourage my children to take the path less traveled. Through my fortune cookie wisdoms I share with my children that with every root in their path they stumble upon they still have choices. The circle of life is an intentional sphere not a carousal pony we sit atop until we are told the ride is over. We mindfully interact with our past looking for guidance. What other reason would there be for us to recall our first day of kindergarten or the first time our heart was broken. Our relationships are given shape by a lifetime of events and emotions that we collect like old textbooks packed away in milk crates stacked in the dark corners of our thoughts. It is our past that reminds us that we have choices. To hold anger like a kite being buffeted by the gales of time tightens your grip on the past while clouding who you really harm. I believe a parent’s role is to give guidance and direction but never the destination. I believe it is important to pursue one’s dreams or one day caught up in middle age angst you’ll wake up angry at your family, your wife, your children and most of all yourself for reasons unknown to anyone including yourself.
People speak of a turning point in their life. My moment of enlightenment came with the birth of my daughter. Becoming a parent isn’t so much an epiphany where your child shows you the meaning of life; it is more a realization that you are no longer the center of your solar system. Their evolutionary rise to adulthood comes quickly. The life changing turning point of parenthood becomes a spinning top of time, that I picked up again to wrap the string tightly around for another spin with the birth of my son. Though a decade has passed between their arrivals, I try to play by the same rules. First an introduction to books, starting with the stories of Pooh, read the first night home from the hospital. Lessons taught with an old film camera, with the mystery of the photograph locked inside. To teach my children to look at the world through the lens of a camera and imagine the world through the written words read to them each night before bed, are passions I proudly share.
I find solace in parenthood. As you enter our home, on the walls of our foyer, are displayed my favorite photographs of the sunrise on Lake Michigan. To celebrate the seasons I have taken over time, photographs of the sunrise from a point overlooking the lake near our home. I walk my Labrador retriever, Duncan on those wooded bluffs almost every morning at first light. I seldom see the hues of the sunrise so when I do, I capture to memory the vividness of that morning so I can tell my children when they ask which direction to follow to experience their sunrise.
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