Friday, May 21, 2010

And We Are Running

It’s sad. Quite honestly one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Running, running, running, and all in vain. I want to advise him that this kind of heavy-breathing sprint is worthless. I want to advise her of the same. Instead, I say nothing. I remain silent because the cut is much too deep. I remain silent because I understand the impulse of putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. I remain silent because I don’t have the right to speak. What’s the purpose of speaking rationally to someone who is delirious from that kind of shock, anyway? There is none. So, I don’t say anything and they keep pushing forward. And it’s so clear to me that one day when they are much older or maybe even when their life’s journey is ending they will see the purposelessness of their determination to run. The person goes on, however, oblivious. And it’s all quite sad.

Fatherhood is probably a pretty difficult task. I draw this conclusion because there are so many people, men and women alike, that complain about theirs. Some people choose to believe that apathy is the cause of a father’s failure, the reason for his major flaws. I choose to believe otherwise. I think it’s much more intricate than this simplistic dismissal. I choose to go back to the cycle of running when we should have remained still. I choose to believe that it’s the tradition of proving that we will be better than him that provides the problem. We run from his mistakes, just to repeat them.

I’ve seen too many men bogged down with the past of their fathers, creating defenses that only get them that much closer to a replica of the man they despise. The hatred. I’ve never seen hatred to compare with that of a man towards an imperfect father. And so that man puts himself on a pedestal. He says he will never be like him. He will never make those same mistakes. He fiercely advocates for himself, even though he hasn’t been asked to, just to show that he already is more of a man than his father ever was. I smile. I smile because this man standing before me doesn’t yet comprehend that everyone is better in youth, when they’re starting out, than when all is said and done. I smile because this man’s father probably spat upon his own and made promises that he clearly was unable to keep. I smile because the irony of it all is unbelievable but so sad that if I stop smiling I’ll probably just, cry. And so he runs instead of looking at his father with compassion. He runs instead of getting beneath the surface and understanding the sins of his father. He only has a surface level understanding, and he runs with that.

And then there are mothers. Let’s not forget the tangled web that mothers and daughters weave. Relationships between women are complex. They are volatile. Women are quite temperamental. In most relationships between women there unfortunately lingers an element of jealousy and lack of trust. I’m inclined to believe that this element is present in many mother-daughter relationships. I fortunately was not witness to this kind of dynamic with my own mother. I understand it though. The dynamic and the reasons for it are complex enough for another entire post. Daughters may not display the same kind of hatred that men showcase toward their fathers. The dynamic still stifles the potential of their relationship. And it isn’t until much later that she acknowledges that she has grown into exactly who her mother was. Many times because she was making a conscious effort to be the complete opposite. The cycle continues, and now her daughter looks at her with contempt. All because she ran instead of looking at her mother with compassion. She ran instead of getting beneath the surface and understanding the sins of her mother. She only had a surface level understanding and she ran with that.

And she who hates her father marries someone just like him. And he who hates his mother marries someone just like her. And we are running. And we run right into the arms of someone just like our parents. There is no issue with acknowledging, having a deep understanding, of the fragilities of our parents. The problem lies when we hate them for it. The problem lies when we fail to realize that they are people and that people generally make mistakes and have problems. The problem lies when we finally realize all of this and they are both gone back to the earth, to the heavens. We then realize that it is much too late to apologize for running from them when we should have been running to them. And then we stop running. But it's much too late.

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