With my dad’s death, I keep wondering if I’m asking myself the right questions in life. I get quite worked up about superficial things sometimes and I know that it’s inane.
I ran across a letter he wrote me when I moved to Europe. He was so kind, and tried to keep any judgment out of the letter. I know that he didn’t really understand what I was doing here, and I know that he didn’t really understand my sister’s life, either.
The thing is, he let the veil drop sometimes and I knew that he was judging everyone. This never made him happy, and is not something I want to replicate in my life. How do I get away from that?
However, he was also honest and responsible. One of his colleagues worked at the British Museum, and he let my dad just do his research thing on his own, back in the piles of rocks, without supervision. My dad mentioned this as some sort of normal thing, but his widow told us, “No, he didn’t let just anyone wander around the collections.” He’s the kind of guy you’d let wander around in the vault of a bank and know he wouldn’t take anything.
He did very well on the honesty and responsibility thing, but less well on, say, choosing happiness, or being non-judgmental or present in the moment. He said he never could meditate because he didn’t know what “he would meditate on”, which is, of course, missing the point. (I don’t believe meditation is “on” or “about” something, but just an attempt to be fully present. I don’t think that’s a thing he thought about much.)
I now no longer have his judgement with which to measure myself (either failing or succeeding). It was one of the constants in my life and it’s gone now. I can set my own standards of what is worth being and doing (I did all along, but there was always this niggling idea in the back of my head, wondering what he might think. Would he approve? Would he think what I was doing was worthwhile?)
The thing I want to work towards the most is being good for goodness sake, and not because anyone is going to think anything of me, or see me in a certain way. I wanted to measure up to my dad’s standards, and now I want to measure up to even higher standards of my own, just because I can.
So that’s the job at hand, but it seems impossible.
What is possible, however, is to chill out with Foro, my chill out cow. Foro is always good. You can see it in his smile.
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