Latest 3 Things

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Wins of the Father

It’s been a year of taking stock and being honest.  I wrote publicly for the first time about having a bad mom – and it’s only fitting to give equal time, here.  I had a great dad.  Those who know me know that I’m not one for eulogizing ugly pasts.  It is, after all, candor about our past that allows us to grow and make a better future.  My father was not a perfect man – but he did the one thing that great fathers do: he passed on what he considered the best parts of him to his son, and did his level best to help him avoid those parts of him that he regrets.  It is this seminal paternal desire that makes me fall apart like a blubbering pile of goo when watching Forrest Gump.  It is that moment where he turns to Jenny and asks if his son is “smart or is he…” Geez, even writing about it chokes me up. 

My father succeeded against long odds.  But this isn’t about the challenges he overcame or the parts of him that he railed against instilling in his first-born son.  This is about what he did give me, and what I hope makes him happy on Father’s Day.  Because I can give my dad a tie or cologne or more tools (he sure does love new tools), but I can give him the peace of mind knowing that he gave me every bit of his greatness and none of the rest of it.

Tenacious D

My father was an unremittingly hard worker, and he expected no less from me, growing up.  He worked nights and weekends and taught me the phrase “whatever it takes” long before I knew what it really meant. There was no suffering of complaint or whining, just go.  This was expectation not motivation.  Anything and everything I wanted was available to me, provided I was willing to work harder than I could ever imagine.  I hear my dad’s voice in my head when I think about complaining about why it hasn’t happened yet, or how tired I might feel.  In fact, I’ve taken to saying the exact same thing to myself: C’mon Glenn!  C’mon, indeed. 

Leading from the Front

My dad never asked me to do anything that he hadn’t done or was willing to do, himself.  He never saw his kids as “free labor” or little household employees.  My dad got his hands dirtier than I ever got mine.  Before he ever said the words, he taught me to lead by example.  I was a broody little shit in high school – so I wonder if my dad ever saw me as a leader. He taught me nevertheless. I like to think I pleasantly surprised him. I use my own adolescence (and subsequent success) as a constant reminder not to judge people by who they are as teenagers – which is something else my pops taught me. 

Judge Not…

There was a fair bit of bigotry in my young life.  It’s hard to describe the normalization of these types of things when you’re “raised” in it.  Before kids had access to the Internet, the world of a young person was profoundly small and the authority of a parent was nearly omniscient.  But despite all that surrounded me, my dad taught me to look to another person’s character to judge them.  He tried to teach me patience – though it’s taken me a few extra decades to figure it out.  My dad watched me go through speech therapy and ADHD back when they just used to call it “hyperactivity” and “Special Ed” – and he never once tried to change me, medicate me or make me feel bad for who I was.  He loved me, and I try to repay his love by loving those same crazy bits about myself. 

Great Expectations

The most important thing my dad gave me, however, was his enduring belief in the great things I was (and am) capable of.  Even though I was the first person in my family to go to college, and then law school and professional practice, he never let me settle for what I had just accomplished.  Don’t get me wrong - he was always vocally and visibly proud of me – but it was always quickly followed by a pointed query as to “so, what’s next?”  My father pushed me relentlessly – famously grounding me for my first scholastic “B” (AP US History, 11th grade – I will never forget the number 88%) – but he did it because he believed I could do more.  And since then, I have.

* * *

There are many kinds of fathers, and the best ones manage to be just the kind their kids need.  Mine was not a nurturer, and he never encouraged me to “go ahead and cry.”  We never had long talks about our emotions or my relationships.  He wasn’t a coach, either.  I can’t recall us having a catch in the backyard, and he didn’t push me to take my narrow butt out to the football/baseball field or basketball court.  What we was, was quietly strong, immensely patient and ceaselessly intolerant of failure.  He is the source of my strength and my motivation.  He’s the reason I can grind and hustle like I do.  Because, like he taught me, it’s not the head start you may or may not have, it’s about how hard you’re willing to work to win the race anyways.

And no one outworks your son, pop.  No one. 

Happy Father’s Day.

Monday, June 12, 2017

43 Things

So… 43.  It’s time for the eighth annual installment of recording the lessons I’ve learned over the previous year and there were no shortage of “learning experiences” to draw from – so this should go quickly.  Mostly, I’m happy to still be learning lessons at all.  My expectations for middle age cognitive ability have been greatly exceeded – I guess I was wrong about adults when I was younger.  That’s really the most surprising part of 43 – my mind doesn’t feel old; like at all.  A few of my tastes have matured, but I still have lived the majority of my adult life trying to avoid any similarity with a Dockers commercial.  Now my body, that’s a whole ‘nother chicken, as I like to say.  My essential systems have been have been breaking like Trump news on CNN: constantly and with no good explanation.  But thankfully, I still know the capital of Djibouti (it’s Djibouti) and I’m still prone to laughing to keep from crying – so despite the ever-pending disability, here are 43 things I’ve learned:

1.     Age is just a number, but old is not just a word.  It’s real. 
2.     If I would have known how little the adults in charge of me knew back then, I would have been a lot more scared.
3.     I love driving my car, but I hate driving – because people ruin everything.  Except board games. 
4.     I used to think I’d outgrow country dancing.  Nope.
5.     It took me finally embracing my atheism to understand why religion is so important to people – and what it gives them.  For all of you, atheism gives me the same thing.
6.     A good job requires taking on daily challenges; a great job requires doing it with a team of amazing people.
7.     In a world of constant exhibition, candid moments are the most valuable currency.
8.     You can reliably measure your age with the amount you’re willing to spend on concert tickets. 
9.     Three reasons to avoid an otherwise great nightclub: All. Ages. Night.
10.  Family is everything. 
11.  Not everyone’s family is made of blood relatives.  But, still - See #10.
12.  Why am I such a geek?  Recent technology has allowed me to neither step foot in a Walmart or ride in a taxicab in the last two years.  #Winning  
13.  The two least attractive words you can say to a woman at 43: “want kids.”
14.  You can definitely be too good at some things – like taking selfies… or Tinder. 
15.  If you see me in a nightclub on the Strip and I’m not with a client or family, call security, because I’ve been kidnapped. 
16.  Dating gets exponentially weirder the longer you do it.
17.  Intellectual snobbery is bad.  Ignorance snobbery is much, much worse.
18.  Every man owes himself a custom suit.
19.  For the first time in my life, I was embarrassed to be an American.  I’m finding my way back watching people respond to the same feeling.
20.  Back rubs are getting so important to me, I might start trolling massage schools for marriage prospects. 
21.  It always pays to be nice.  At first.
22.  We need a method of resolving disputes somewhere between fist fights and litigation.  Maybe it involves slapping.
23.  Parents of noisy children shouldn’t be chastised unless their kids are old enough to understand what “Shut the *&# up” means. 
24.  You don’t “have style”, you “have a style” – if you don’t know the difference, neither applies to you.
25.  The most important part of sexy is confidence.  The most important part of love is vulnerability. 
26.  It’s terrible to know something before you want to know it.  But you can’t un-know things.
27.  It’s not that there are world leaders that are younger than I am that makes me feel old, it’s that I’m happy about it.
28.  The cost-benefit analysis of very spicy food has finally been finally resolved in the “don’t do it” position.
29.  Butt implants are never ok.
30.  There is no greater accomplishment than to motivate someone.
31.  Three foolproof ways to tell how old a woman is: her hands, her neck and her willingness to order wine anywhere.
32.  A high EQ is far more valuable than a high IQ – and we should teach children with that in mind. 
33.  I don’t know what the age is where you stop wanting to try new things – but I know it’s not 43.
34.  Honorifics are important and should be used liberally – especially “Coach”, “Doctor” and “Captain”.
35.  The most important members of your team are the ones who are nothing like you.
36.  No matter how bad it gets, there is no excuse for not caring what goes on in the world around you.
37.  We all deserve better representatives in government. 
38.  Honesty is not always the best policy.  Unless you’re under oath – then it totally is.
39.  The only wrong direction to go in is in no direction at all.  Turning (even around) is easier than starting. 
40.  Take time to talk to kids.  The pivotal moments in your young life were likely not nearly as important to the adults involved as they were to you. 
41.  If you’re on a date, order dessert.  Every time.  Life’s too short not to get the damned cake.
42.  Fail constantly.  Nothing great comes from staying comfortable and not taking chances.
43.  The only way to guarantee your legacy is to write it yourself.

So, that’s another chapter in mine.  Thank you all for sticking around; laughing and crying with me.  Here’s to a great 43 and a year of lessons to tell you about next summer.