Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Perfect Daddy is Joy.

Yoga is my Dad.

I'm laughing at myself over a sad moment I had this morning. On my way into the Perfect Cup coffee house, I saw a neighbor, someone who lives down the street. There was eye contact, and I moved on (thinking that there was something unfinished about that moment). When I was ordering my coffee I realized that I was waking up. There seemed to be a scrim between me and the gals behind the counter. How am I? I am waking up! Sorry... I had slept hard on Bill Schwartz's article at Elephant Journal.

On my way out, I was moved to talk to this man, an African-American man with these cool little round glasses. He was alone. I wanted to ask him about his daughter. He hangs out with the coolest little girl.

So, I said, "Hi! Good morning, do you have a daughter? I think I've seen you with an adorable little girl. I've just been thinking about fathers today and wanted to say 'Hi'".

"It might have been me, but there's another guy who lives up the street, too. And my daughter just moved to Texas."

His eyes did light up when I mentioned a daughter! But this wasn't what I expected. I wanted to talk to a father, the fantasy father I had made this guy out to be in my mind. The guy I had seen holding his daughter's hand in the sunshine, and in the rain as they joyfully walk down the sidewalk. I hadn't seen them in a while, actually...

I said something like, "Well, Good Morning!" And I turned for the door, reached for it, and tears started pouring from my eyes.

And when I got onto the train, I realized that what this man had given me was the truth. What I was unknowingly asking for was an affirmation of perfect fatherhood. He had appeared like an ideal Dad (and he very well might be a wonderful father for his daughter). But I was looking for the one who would always be there for the little girl that I am no longer. I just imagined that he might tell me that he was someone's ideal Daddy (and I still might have left the coffee house crying).

My Dad wanted me to be strong. Maybe he knew that I would need to be. Of course there is a complicated back-story, but at this time I think it's enough to say that we are not in relationship.

But I love Daddys! I love pretending that some other little girl or woman has a perfect Daddy. So it is fun for me to talk to men about their daughters. I love to hear about what they did together, the fun that they had, and what they made for snacks.

A dad's attention can give a daughter a shot of joy juice. It is this juice that I now associate with yoga.

Yoga is my father. Every day, no matter what is going on in my life (Recently a friend ended her life with pills.), I can still touch joy in the cells of my body when I do yoga. It might sound sick that I can touch joy in the face of suffering, but it is such a blessing. It allows me to share smiles. Grieving is certainly important, and I've cried a lot over the last couple days. And it's important to live! To live life while we can.

Thanks, Dad! (And if you are someone's father, just know that you are the most special person ever...)


dragonfly said...

Hi Brooks,

I'm so sorry about your friend...

When it comes to fathers, I wonder if there is not an equivalent to 'fathering' oneself in the way that women's circles will sometimes talk about 'mothering' oneself as a way of healing the wounds from that relationship and therefore healing our connection to the divine feminine within.

I'm sure they must speak about this in men's groups... I hope so... but maybe we need to do both, no matter our gender, after all, we were made from both.

My favourite father story comes from an Oprah, 10-12 years ago... a dignified, older, black man in the audience stood and spoke, he was the father of only daughters, I don't remember how many. On their 13th or 16th birthday - don't remember, for my fantasy to work it has to be 13th - anyway, he would take each one out to dinner on her own... her first date.

They'd dress up, he'd give her flowers, take her to a fancy restaurant, pull out her chair... in his words, show her how a man should treat a woman, set the bar so to speak.

I realise in writing this could sound twisted based on the reader's personal father experience but this man meant in the purest, gentlest way, he told his daughters how special and perfect they were and that if a man didn't treat them with this basic courtesy, respect and love from the start that they should not even consider him.

It made me cry, especially because of who he was and to think of that happening in his generation of child rearing and how I wished someone had done that with me and how I hope that one day if/when I have daughters it will be with a man who would do that for her, because he 'got it' not because I said so.

Sometimes I find it helpful to look at it all from a broader perspective; to consider the possibility that I chose my parents, to consider that in a past lifetime they may have been my own children... or my own worst enemies ;) Who knows what greater learning is present in the state of things as they are.

Be well, take care of yourself.


Frenzy36 said...

This story made me think of something I saw today. While driving home I saw this mother and tiny boy walking along the road. The boy had a three foot fishing pole with an enormus orange & yellow cork on the end, it was a good foot taller than he was.

Yet there they were walking hand in hand.

I know the area and the closest water was probably a good mile down the road, and it made me think what a wonderful mother she must be. I had an impulse .. I wanted to give them something but then it struck me, what more could I give them than they already had.

So I thought of them as I drove on and felt happy there were people like her creating memories.

Anonymous said...

Sad news about your friend. I hope you're doing ok!

Ah, fathers. I have one, but not, too. He's around, but emotionally absent 100%.

I know what you mean about hearing tales of other people with wonderful and loving parents. The kind of parents that call you and check up on you, and that want to know how you are beyond whether or not you're gainfully employed.

When you say yoga is your father, what I hear is that you are your own father. Your joy from yoga is your experience - own it! :)

Kay Burnett said...

Hi Brooks--
Your story made me cry sitting at my desk in a big, sterile office -- not pouring tears and sobbing but tears welling still now in my eyes.

Thanks for bringing our attention to fathers of all ilks - all are being celebrated. I finally knew my father loved me when I was 33 years old and had lost my husband to alcohol destruction. Dad may have had a small stroke by then and could actually show emotion when he told me how proud of my handling of the traumatic situation he was.

As your friends have said, I paraphrase, you are your father and you are doing a great job at it!

Again, sorry about your friend.

Unknown said...

There's an Ani DiFranco song called: Angry Anymore. This verse seems to resonate with your post:

"Night falls like people into love
We generate our own light to compensate for the lack of light from above
Every time we fight a cold wind blows our way
But we learn like the trees, how to bend? How to sway and say?"
-Ani Di Franco


Frenzy36 said...

You know people put up walls for all sorts of reasons & many times its because they feel they are a failure and don't want to face that.

It can be nobody's fault things don't end up like a Disney movie, there is so much to deal with and the manuals that come with life are so incomplete.