I’ve found that the most unassuming leaders and role models are the ones with the greatest impact. They are not the ones that are celebrated from the pulpits. In fact, from the pulpits is where you will find them despised or judged. But that is not a testament to their being, instead it is an indictment against the bearers of those stations.
Seeing a father celebrated tonight left me ambivalent, as the subject of fatherhood often does. I looked across at one whose father was taken away at a young age. I saw the fight to maintain composure dull the eyes that was just a minute ago filled with the enthusiasm of youth. But even in that there is a blessing that I struggle to relate to, and I wonder if those that have lost truly appreciate the gravity of the grounding point that they have in life, even if only for those few short years beyond which they may understandably feel cheated out of a lifetime of love and affection, not least of all the wisdom that often accompanies such a presence.
Oddly enough it really is the presence more than the conscious efforts of fatherhood that appear to leave the most powerful impressions. Perhaps in that presence I can relate, but not much beyond. I often recall the words of a man I once met when he described the influence his father offered in his life. He recounted how he awoke every morning to see his father sit comfortably in his favourite armchair reading the newspaper, allowing all about him to continue uninterrupted, but equally uninterested. It was that scene that prompted him to be more than his father ever was, to him or to those around him. That is a reality I can relate to.
But tonight was a reminder for more than just that. I found myself questioning my views about celebrating life versus celebrating occasions and witnessed first hand how people that I have anyways recognised and admired for living a full life seemed to be galvanised by the occasion of marking a milestone in a life fully lived. Perhaps they, like me, don’t recognise the amount of life they live. Perhaps they too, looking from the inside through the lenses that filter their reality, may not recognise the amount of life they have lived relative to the struggles and loss that scarred their landscape.
The reality I’m faced with is that life is not separate from the bad times, or the occasions. Celebrating the occasions in the absence of celebrating life at least gives us speckles of appreciation even though I still spurn the distraction it causes in its wake. Contemplating all this, including some unexpected interactions this evening gnaws away at yet another old companion that I’ve held dear for so long. Jadedness is spawned by bitterness. It’s a response needed to dull the ache that a lost youth and an absent father etches into our distorted view of what promise the world holds. It’s this same distortion that often sees us fighting battles that exist only in our minds.
Maybe the fatigue of being me is suddenly not a fatigue, but instead it is a surrender to a reality that was self imposed. Self imposed or not, it is still my reality. Tonight, sitting here, isolated in my thoughts, surrounded by the warmth of an extended family of whom only a select few I have ever connected with but still feeling the familiarity of a blood line I am tied to in spite of my exclusion for reasons unknown to any of us, I find my soul oddly consoled, yet still restless. But it’s a fading restlessness, even if just for tonight.
Perhaps my jaded soul will learn what it means to feel human after all. Perhaps not.