Saturday, January 05, 2013

5. Biggest Fear #JanBlogaDay

(A series of corrections and word replacements occurred several hours after I posted this because darned if I didn't make some horrible mistakes in the original draft.  Sorry.  I'm not that awful a person.)
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Some say that there is grandness and boldness in following a steady path, caring for your family every day, doing your best at work and keeping your eyes steadily focused on God.

Those people, however, need a dictionary. This is anathema to grand, bold gestures. They are commendable, stable, dependable. But they are also a death march of growing up and working your whole life to provide for your children until they've grown up enough to have children, and then work their whole lives to support their children until they're old enough to have children and then work their whole lives to support their children until. Yeah, it's a vicious circle and something's wrong.

It's at that moment that you often see guys purchasing expensive sports cars or making stupid, spontaneous choices that destroy everything they've built and leave their family in friends scratching their heads and asking "What just happened?"

My dad's made several grand gestures in his life. He's followed his dreams, all the while supported by my mom. He's bought controlling interests in companies, and founded others including a bank.

Those are big, bold, grand gestures. And yet at the same time, he's been a solid participant in a civic organization, a regular participant and leader in his church community.

So, yeah, that's where I found myself heading after pondering the usual suspects of "biggest fears"...

  • giant spiders
  • giant spiders singing the Caillou theme song while dragging me to one of the geographic locales I pledged not to malign in 2013
  • being up high in a elevator when the floor deteriorates leaving me pressed against the wall trying not to fall down the shaft
  • crouching on the side of a building as it falls over
  • saying the wrong thing at work
  • saying the wrong thing at home
  • saying the wrong thing at church
  • the loneliness of being one of the few survivors after dragon attacks, the rise of the Terminators or a permanent blackout (yeah, I'm not sure why I'd be singled out to be one of the survivors, I'm not the fittest of the species).
  • that I'd hide under a table instead of standing up to a gun-wielding maniac
  • that my children would not hide under a table in the presence of a gun-wielding maniac
  • being unemployed / being unable to provide for my family

Where is my grand gesture?



It won't be one of consumerism - I won't own a DMC - the insurance and paranoia (theft, damage, etc.) alone would ruin it.

It won't be of history - I won't be the guy who posts Jesus' cruxifiction on YouTube (trying to get the Time-Travelling DMC imported into Israel would be way too difficult).

It won't be of excess - I won't be designing and building my own home - the career path I'm on has shown me that this isn't a direction we want to attend (though we have some interesting plans for our current home).

It won't be of fame - I can't sing, dance, sport or politic and no one gets famous for their sporadic use of Pandora or the complexity of their iTunes smart play lists or figuring out the lyrics to an Alanis Morrisette song after listening to it for 18 years (especially once you consider that the word is in the title of the song). In my defense, Alanis isn't a crooner with crystal clear enunciation.

It feels like my opportunity for a grand gesture will come in the workplace. But that it requires a higher status than I currently have, and some courage, conviction and level of risk-taking I have to wonder if I've got. I look at those who are in the places of power I'd like to be and I try to comprehend their trajectory and determine whether that's a path I can discern and follow. The one thing I'm comforted by is that I'm not looking at any of them and saying that they had breaks or luck not available to me, but at the same time, I'm left wondering if I'm ready. I was asked recently, informally, if I would be interested in a bigger opportunity and my answer, while I felt it was honest and accurate, was one that disappointed me -- that while not "biding my time," I felt like I needed more experience where I was. That was disappointing. Early on in my life, there was a regular occurrence of being called into a conference room, worried that I was about to get into trouble only to find out that I'd been promoted or a new role had been created for me that expanded my area of responsibility. Now I try to be smarter about what I say and do to avoid getting called into a conference for coaching or reprimands, but at the same time, I'm not being called in and given more responsibility and money.

I don't think my grand gesture will be to change companies (the books I've read weren't written about our company which means that the most frustrating parts will exist anywhere) and I believe in what we do and I like the work and I like the people and I see a lot of potential still for me to do there.

Nor will my grand gesture involve going it alone. That involves a level of risk and courage I don't have. Or a big enough financial reserve.

But does that mean there's still time for a grand gesture later, but for now, it's a patience game?  Do well, try to lay a foundation and plan out a long-term vision?

...

My other biggest fear is for my son Ben. We don't know if things will one day "click" or if he will always remain an 18-24 month old mind in a growing physical body. A sweet, wonderful, loving little boy who's very cuddly, but who can also become quite angry and violent and who lacks the ability to effectively communicate the reasons for his frustration or anger.

I will care for him as long as I am physically able in the event that he never reaches a level where he can care for himself. But I don't know what the future holds. I'm used to "trials" and "valleys" being things I can confidently ride out, knowing there will be another mountain in the future, the idea that "this, too, shall pass." I've seen it before in all of the areas of frustration, struggle, discouragement and disappointment in my life, that I've come through it. God's seen me through enough of them to know that things will get better.

But with Ben, it's not exactly that things are bad and need to get better, but it feels like a bit of a valley that there isn't necessarily a potential other side to. More of a like a reality that doesn't feel settled. Will things change? Will things improve (let's face it, a more communicative child will be a less angry child and that will be an improvement)? Will it get worse? Will there be additional medical issues that lead us back to the ER at points in the future? Will his complete lack of a sense of danger cause him injury or worse?  Will there be a point where we have to place him in someone else's care because we are no longer able to care for him?

I don't know.

But in the end, I think my biggest fear is if I look back at my life again in the future and see a lack of what I'd consider grandness - my fear is that I'd use my son as a convenient excuse for that.

Day 5 of January Blog a Day.



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