I love my dad, a lot. As a kid, somehow, I got the notion that for him to love me I had to be like him. And I am like him, in a lot of ways, so it was easy to focus on developing those aspects of myself and interests that I share with him: intellectualism, athleticism, entrepreneurship, politics.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more drawn to other interests: mindfulness, psychology, Eastern-ish philosophy, practices to cultivate gratitude, wonder, and kindness.
And my focus on these interests has felt like a betrayal of sorts, a moving away from my dad, who I adore and always want to be close with. And he has a lot of that stuff, the gratitude, the kindness, the wonder, without working it as much as I’ve needed to do.
So that also, in my mind, can feel like a failing of sorts. Like why can’t I just be at ease and happy like my dad and still full of fire and going like gang busters like my dad? Like my is-ness is not as good as his is-ness.
So I’ve worried.
Would my dad know I still loved him even if I didn’t read the Wall Street Journal or even The New York Times? Would my dad know I adore him even if I let Ax’s hair grow long, let my tennis game go, and give up my lucrative career?
Would my dad think I’ve become a nut because I go to meetings, to therapy, to yoga, that I meditate, that I eat a plant-forward diet? Would he not love me if he found out my is-ness is actually not totally like his at all, or at least not exactly the same?
Would he know I love him, and would he love me even though I’m doing this life thing a little differently than he’s doing his? That I admire him even though we are different? That I’m grateful for who he is and all he’s done for me even if I live this way, pursuing these interests, in this town?
And so these are the child’s fears that as an adult I get to look at and decide whether or how these fears serve me now. They don’t. I love my dad, he loves me. We do the best we can for each other. We are incredibly close. It’s not complicated. We are so similar, but not the same. I don’t expect him to be like me to love me, and finally I see that he feels the same way about me. Thank you dad.
I’m gonna keep going.