I’m starting things off in no particular order, but this first being a lesson I found myself teaching Cecelia the other day when playing Legos.
We have no lack of legos and Lego people around here, and we enact play situations by building buildings, restaurants, hospitals, playgrounds, or whatever is needed in our Lego village to create a world for our 100+ actors and they can live out their imaginary lives, directed and put into play by my daughter Cecelia.
We have a bucket full of Lego people of all sorts of professions and walks of life, some being obvious as to what gender and role they are, and others not so much. But we do have a policeman. And he was called upon the other day for help.
This made me pause and ask Cecelia what do Policemen do? Her answer, as I suspected, and pass no judgment on, was a typical one, but an incorrect one, and one that should be learned now. I’ve asked some adults related to her the same question and gotten the same ignorant answer. So I wanted to make sure she was provided the correct information so she could approach police correctly and without doubt as to what their purpose is.
Her answer was: “To put people in jail.” which is wrong on every level. Our society today has no small number of adults who believe the same thing. Of course, it firstly depends on whose side of the law you’re on. But even then, that’s a technically incorrect answer.
Judges and the judicial system decide who and for how long people are incarcerated. Not police. And that’s only part of their jobs. This is all supposed to be taught in school and from parents, but the ball has been dropped hard and by many people for a long time on this area, as well as a lot of very serious others that used to exist. That’s why I’m writing this now for my child.
But police exist, in America at least, to help, serve and protect our citizens, and it should be pointed out, usually not asking for a fair amount in exchange a lot of the time, depending on the precinct.
I have friends who were, and still are, police. We have a lot of them in America, and need them. And when you have so many individuals in such a huge group that has to be managed so wildly in scale and scope and style across this land, you are going to have some pop up that aren’t there for the right reasons, some that do their jobs better than others, and some that do it all for reasons all their own. It’s usually a thankless job, and depending who is in the White House, it can even make your job overly deadly and reviled, which isn’t the best perspective to have on people that are just that: people, who stake their lives on protecting strangers from harm day in and day our for no or little thanks or pay or respect in some circumstances.
But when someone has a problem, or trouble comes calling, the first thing they do is call the police to help. And they respond, to manage the situation as they’ve been trained. They are there because they want to help, and have a job to do which is a job you can’t provide yourself, on your own. They show up when trouble is brewing, not to make trouble. And the people that see them as adversaries see them that way because they are on the wrong side of the law. Simple as that. Same as firefighters and doctors and nurses. They are around to help solve your problems when they become out of your control. That’s why we have police.
Andy Griffith was a Sherrif and is more like I perceive the police in general. The person I found myself in trouble with growing up all the time ended up becoming a Sherrif’s deputy. Police are humans, and they want to help. They aren’t infallible, just as I or you aren’t. And maybe out of the hundreds of thousands of officers that are out there, there are a few that aren’t the best people, just as in any large group of any people. But to consider them adversarial means you have been raised on the wrong side of the law. And if you have a problem with them, it usually means you did something wrong, otherwise they usually wouldn’t be there. But they do come around to help when called just as much as when they’re called to intervene. They have hard jobs to do, so the best thing to do is respect that, understand that and appreciate the fact they keep peace and try to keep you and me safe from harm.
Similar to previous lessons but entirely different, is what to do when it comes time to judge people, and circumstances when making decisions.
No one should go around being judgemental, but there are times when it’s necessary in order to size up things and make choices. Usually, three options should be made: The best possible outcome, the most likely outcome, and the worst outcome. You want to be prepared for all three so that you’ll have options. You always want to have options, and the worst place to find yourself is painted into a corner. Preparation is key to this. It involves training your self to think differently sometimes, but it’s for the best. Such as attacking the hardest problems first, acting quickly so as not to lose out, and asking yourself “if not now, when?”
Everyone in this world is facing a crisis of some type. It might not be a crisis to you, but in scope and scale to them, it certainly is. Crises are relevant to the people who find themselves having to manage them, and what their experience and skill level is handling such problems. As you get older, you go through growing exercises that aren’t fun at all, but they make you stronger and better suited to make hard decisions. The right decisions. They mettle your steel in other words.
I’ve had to handle some hard-core situations, to me. And later I learn about someone else that has just had to handle even worse situations than I did, which helps keep things in perspective. Everyone is fighting some type of personal battle at all times, and you have to keep that in mind. That might be an addiction, going through a divorce, being indicted on criminal charges by people you once trusted and held closely, or whatever. What seems simple to one person might seem insurmountable to another. The case is different for every single person on Earth, and when you consider there are over 7 billion people on Earth right now, that’s a lot of worry and problems at once.
But until you’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes, you really don’t have the ability to judge them. People end up homeless for circumstances that may or may not be out of their control, but you have to consider that almost no one strives to wind up in that situation. However, it happens. That doesn’t make them a bad person, or a good person, or any type of person, other than one who may need a helping hand. Everyone needs help at some point in life, and to declare that you don’t can’t possibly be true. No one has survived any length of time on this planet without the help of another person at some point. And that doesn’t make anyone weaker or stronger than the other, it just means someone was thankfully around to help when needed. Asking for that help is something people have a hard time doing, but that might be another post. That tends to have to do with humility, pride, embarrassment, or other factors, but nothing so superficial should put a person in a place they could have avoided.
Humans are full of flaws. One big one is being able to even admit that. But once you accept the fact that no one is perfect and humility is a characteristic to be sought and respected, it makes life easier.
This lesson has to do with standards, which you yourself set. Don’t let others set them for you or tell you what they should be. That said, set them higher than you believe you can achieve but are realistically attainable. That’s the trick. Only you will know where your horizon lies, and you have to gauge that yourself with accurate measuring tools, markers and milestones. This is where experience and help from experienced individuals such as parents can be useful. Learn from their mistakes and let them help with setting your sights on target.
When confronted with a decision that’s serious and has meaningful, long-lasting implications and consequences, if you can, give yourself some time to process it. Often your first thought is the right one, but better to be sure by evaluating the choices and the possible outcomes and consequences before making these types of decisions. These often involve others that aren’t even aware they’re in your radius of thought and have ripple effects that have to be contemplated thoroughly. We are in a time now where mind-mapping software can be helpful, to ensure all outcomes are taken into account and plan out what might happen in best most-likely- and worst case scenarios. Doing this arduous, rigorous, but necessary task will help remove regretful decisions later and eliminate hurting others that might not even be involved.
I used to do crossword puzzles a lot. The NYT in particular, which I recommend for building a nice vocabulary and learning some trivia and stretching your brain some, but overall the NYT should be regarded as mostly birdcage liner. One thing I found helpful to complete them was to walk away for a while and take a walk with a dog and get some fresh air and exercise. When I returned to the puzzle, I often found I could solve the remaining boxes with a refreshed perspective. That same is true with small and big problems that arise in life. Walk away for a while and regroup if possible.
Throughout my life, I’ve been a misfit. Didn’t quite fit in with this crowd, didn’t form with that crowd. It’s a search I think every person undertakes whether they want to admit or not, but it’s obvious when you just have a look around. People are always wanting to be different but conform to some crowd. It’s a lizard brain instinct that has to do with birds forming and flying in flocks and moving as one unit I think as fish do in tightly formed schools to feel safe en masse, but ultimately makes them just as exposed as their neighbors are to danger and their other imaginary fears.
Growing up, it’s a nonstop pursuit, to “fit in” but at the same time not relinquish what is ours as individuals and give up what we still cherish, whatever that may be. People try to dress like others, make their har look like others, and go through all sorts of lengths, unsuccessfully always, to become something they aren’t. People buy Harley Davidson motorcycles, and make huge life choices that perplex their spouses and neighbors and family as to what they’re thinking. What they’re thinking is that should they pretend to be something else by adorning themselves with artificial and temporary accessories, it will transform them into something better. That’s my amateur psychological take on it, at least.
The obsession with tattoos is something I’ve watched from the sidelines with utter disbelief. Our whole county, or at least region I inhabit here in the midwest/southern/crossroads/nowheresville area named Louisville, KY, has embraced tattoos and physical mutilation as something that makes sense on some financial and aesthetic level.
I’m not judging others for any reason whatsoever, as I have no right or reason to. I just like people watching and human behavior interests me, individually and collectively. I’m one of the most exotic people in Jefferson County, Kentucky, however, because I have no permanent stains on or under my skin and have no plans to put them there. Slowly, though the entire population has marked themselves with a graphic, or a dozen, that they’ve seen somewhere that under no duress or influence of narcotics presumably, they’ve spent scare resources on to carefully embellish themselves with stain to show the world….something. Each indelible mark surely has it’s own motive and tale, which must be presented by the holder, but is made visible when each time and moment is just right.
I’ve hired creative employees who have sleeves of tattoos and symbols around their head and ears of Harry Potter reason, and it makes no difference to me. Their work is what I’m interested in, and they did good work. Male and female, all tattooed, of different generations, with different impulses that made them obtain their body art. To each their own. Just as now, I hope the majority of the people I am around don’t perceive me in some imaginary light because I choose to not make myself graffiti.
What might seem like a great idea at one time must be thought through with some foresight. Are you going to look back at yourself in 60 years and possibly not think maybe that is an idea that should be given more thought? Same with the reason I choose to wear conservative clothing and dress in a manner that sets time and fads aside. I can look at photos of myself when I was a child, a teenager, a young man, and now an older man and there’s usually nothing outlandish that stares back at me. I don’t follow trends or fads and tend to hold onto stable, foundational, time-tested, structurally sound, reasonable ideas, fashions, music, cars, and everything that surrounds me that I utilize day to day. I don’t give thought to what the media, associates, friends, celebrities or politicians or others that simply have shallow, personal, superficial agendas at stake tell me to.
Listen to your inner voice. Listen to your gut. Listen to your instinct. That usually is what’s right and will carry you the length though life. Not silly fads, distractions, or things that someone else thinks is “cool.” It’s not. Being yourself is what’s cool.
Since I’m around my daughter 50%, or less, of her life these days, there are things which I’ll always feel are important to have her learn, with or without my assistance. The opportunities for these lessons aren’t always evident, and usually, are quick moments when a parenting trigger is flipped and the chance has to be taken immediately or else it loses context and meaning.
These events happen when my daughter is with me or with other people of course. They revolve around her life and are meant to provide guidance as to how to make strategic and important decisions through her life and shape the path she follows, hopefully, more towards personal fulfillment, success, and happiness, and not what lies along so many treacherous but tempting offshoots along that path. The details and shiny things present themselves endlessly through life, and as a parent, I feel it’s part of my job to teach her how to decide hot to approach, engage, or walk away from such distractions or opportunities, and how to distinguish between the two at the very least.
As I embark down this trail with her by my side, apart from her mother and others that inject themselves into her life along the way, I have to be careful and conscious of how they are presented on many levels. But at the core, my will is to have something she can always use to learn from and help her navigate herself through life, which becomes more intrepid with every tick of the clock, I’ve found.
I’ve approached her mother with concerning situations Cecelia has mentioned to me out of the blue, which was not only tossed to the wayside when retold as folly, but taken steps further and turned into serious accusations, again, against me about creating imaginary situations involving people I don’t even know and planting harmful and strange violent scenarios into our daughter’s head for reasons I can’t even fathom and don’t even want to try to imagine. It renders me as a malicious sociopath, which if were the case, I don’t believe I’d be free to walk the streets, much less have joint custody of our daughter. So the challenges I have before me to help Cecelia hopefully are apparent and real to anyone who ever reads this. It’s a situation akin to having someone drive straight into your car, and then call foul when the situation realistically and by necessity, evaluates their driving and the incidental consequences. You want to help those that are the most exposed by the accident, but the other driver is more concerned about getting out of the situation as best as they see themselves entitled to, no matter what steps must be taken.
Since I take the time to craft deliberate and thoughtful approaches to help Cecelia, and then have them tossed into the trash, that’s not the result I aim for. So I’ve decided to write down my advice to her and maintain them here and in digital storage for her or anyone to use as they see fit. It’s not for my benefit, inasmuch as seeing my daughter grow up to be healthy and happy is my benefit, and not to harm anyone, since I have no enemies of my own I’ve made. Others may see me as theirs, but that’s the situation they’ve created in their own world and something I can’t or don’t want to be involved in. People’s perceptions are their own. I write things down here for the world to read and see because I try to live my life as an open book for others to judge. I have nothing to hide and all I want to be remembered for, or at least one thing is to have been a helpful person, especially as it relates to my daughter and raising her. I’m open to any ideas and suggestions that are available that might be beneficial at any time, which I have stated here, there and everywhere.
So with that preface, I’m going to begin assembling some life lessons for her here that can be utilized and not hidden and thrown away never to be considered or discussed as they normally would between two parents about their child. They are lessons I’ve learned through my near half-century life, and should be regarded as something to think about, act upon, discuss, wisdom to heed, or even dismissed, but at least not without the same diligence I’m using to present them. They are lessons I’ve learned by trial and fire, as I was raised, and certainly aren’t a one-size-fits-all toolbox of remedies. But if I can provide an ounce of prevention to avoid a pound of cure, then it’s working.