August 27, 2010

The Right Way to Be a Role Model.

Just get out of the way.

Last night my wife and I went to see Aztec Two-Step in concert.  It was a great show, in an intimate setting, where music, humor, and passion filled us with true joie de vivre.  Afterward we spent some time hanging out with Rex March Fowler (one of the band members), talking about life and choices in this crazy modern world.

But this isn’t a music review.

As I was watching Rex on-stage, I realized that if you took away all his hair, he would look an awful lot like my grandfather.  My wife confirmed this, so it wasn’t just wishful thinking on my part.  And then I started thinking about what life might have been like if my grandfather had been a guitar-wielding folkie.

As they say here in Maine – Hard tellin’ not knowin’.

Nevermind that I – or at least the “I” writing this article – would probably never have come to exist.  But it made me stop for a moment to marvel at the way that our world works, the way that legacies are handed down from parent to child, grandparent to grandchild.  It’s something I frequently think about with my own children, of course.

We’re all born into a unique set of circumstances.  What do we do with what we’re given?  Do we leverage it, to become all of that plus something new?  Do we feel the need to make a break from it, to become something completely different?

A few days before, I was particularly consumed with the details of being an online “entrepreneur”.  It was distracting me from everything around me – which is particularly ironic because everything that I do, and teach, is focused on how to be more present – for our dogs, for each other.  And, most importantly, it’s at the root of what I want to be able to model for my children – that you can be an adult in the world, responsible, making a living – and still be true to your values, your innermost self, your heart.  And connect, connect with whatever surrounds you.

And yet here I was, mulling over something like “order fulfillment” as I approached the village café where my wife was waiting with our kids.  Completely distracted.  Some legacy to leave my children!

Your Legacy Is Actually a Two-Way Street

My son, Dash, rushed out of the café.  And the first words out of his mouth were “Let’s be dinosaurs – I’m a Tyrannosaurus – Rawr!” as he started circling me just outside the entryway.  And in that moment I realized that “legacy” is really a two-way street.  That in my most troublesome moments I could actually watch my son.  Let him be my role model, show me how to come back to the moment, groundedness, to connection.

So in order to be a good role model for my son, I have to emulate my son. In hopes that he, one day, will follow in his old man’s footsteps and be a kind, present, loving, spontaneous, engaging participant in the world around him.  Just like how he is right now.

So in that manner, I suppose that even though my grandfather was a retired shoe factory bookkeeper, and not a wild-haired folkie, that there’s a decent possibility that I could have given him something of value, in return for his simply giving me the blessing of life and circumstance (and, of course, so many other things).  Perhaps he saw in me something that reminded him of his spirit, of laughter, of how to shine in the world.

In conclusion, I drew a little diagram for those of you who have kids to illustrate this “legacy is a two-way street” concept:

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