Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Food for Thought: Thoughts on Seed, Part III: The Uncomfortable and The Automatic

I was sitting with my father one day, and it occurred to me right then and there that I didn't have any photos of him.

“Can I take a picture of you?” I asked.

He was slumped a little in his chair, but he got all excited. “Yes you can. Hand me my glasses off the shelf right there.”`

I stood up from my plastic lawn chair and grabbed a pair of sunglasses from the book shelf. I placed them in his outstretched hand.

And he allowed me to snap a photo with my camera phone.

He looks all surly. But trust me, he was not. He was happy to take that picture. He posed for that picture, sitting up straight and placing his hands comfortably in his lap.

I'm sure that he wanted to smile, but he didn't because he doesn’t have many teeth. But if he could have smiled he surely would have. He was so happy to pose for that picture.

“Make me a copy of that,” he said.

“Okay,” I said, at the time thinking that I would just have our administrative assistant print out an 8x10 color copy of the picture.

There's a small picture taped to his bedroom mirror of his much younger self, taken when he was in the 10th grade. He looks to be a happy smiling young man. I guess that glee disappeared in the jungles of Viet Nam. And that's sad.

And then we just sat there, us in his little bedroom. He either sits on his bed or in a wooden chair next to the bed. I always sit in the same place... in the plastic lawn chair next to the door. We sit there and watch cowboy movies. This is okay because I stay no longer than an hour.

It is also okay because it helps him to see me.

And I don't pretend to fully understand that.

The whole thing for me is a bit... uncomfortable.

I am outside of my comfort zone.

And I am understanding that is alright. I am sowing a seed. I am giving of myself, when there is no requirement for me to do so. And I think it's a true test of my motives, meaning that I know that I am not around for the wrong reasons. I am there solely because it brightens his day. No, the conversation is not consistent.  There is not much to talk about.  He is very quiet, like myself. I suppose I get my "quietness" and contentment to be quiet from him. And when he's telling jokes, I realize we have the same exact sense of humor, meaning the comedic part of my personality must come from him also.

And that is the direction things have been going.

And my being there is... uncomfortable.

Why is it uncomfortable? Because I have only seen him five times since the age of 10. Two of those times were at the funerals of his mother and father, my grandparents. My mother made me go to the funerals when I was around 19. And I remember my father fussing at me because I didn't come by the house when his parents passed.

I wanted to ask why he never paid the court ordered $25 a week over the past 19 years. I wanted to ask why he was never there to protect me from an emotionally unavailable mother.

But I didn't. I just decided that he was a very mean man. And most people who have known me for a long time know that I don't subject myself to drama. If I allow prolonged drama, it's my fault.  I have learned that I don't have to deal with people unless I want to. And that's a rule that I live by. Any emotional abuse is my fault if I stick around long enough to let you do it. And I don't cause drama. If you tell me that I'm causing you problems, well, I just don't talk to you anymore. I know that is harsh, but heck, you don't need to be fooling with me if I'm being that much of a problem. So I take matters in my own hands and I disappear.

And so I sit there, in 2013, in his bedroom in the uncomfortable plastic chair thinking about these uncomfortable things. And having to push them back under one of those many locked doors of the back storage rooms of my mind.

And I don't say anything about it. I am hurt, but I say nothing. I was always punished for speaking my mind while I was growing up, so I rarely say how I feel now, even to close friends. If I trust you with my heart and thoughts, it says a lot. It says enough to fill a book. Several books.

No, I sit there for my half hour of time, which has stretched to an hour at times. I have learned to just bring something to do, like crochet. This might not be a good thing because he is full of questions.

"Ain't that blanket finish yet?"
"Can you crochet a coat for me so I can keep warm?"

The answer is always no. And he laughs about it, and wants to debate me on it. He doesn't understand that a blanket has to be big enough to last until the "baby" starts preschool. And he doesn't understand that I only know how to crochet square and flat blankets.

And lord have mercy, please don't let him want to discuss my job. Science is waaaaay over his head. My goodness. The *crickets* floating around his head, even when I try to explain things on a layman's level, are a thing of wonder.

My mother loves science. I think I inherited my love for science from her.

He doesn't understand much.

He doesn't understand much about me in general.

And that is on him. He has missed participating in a wonderful life, this wonderful life of mine.

And he laments much over it. He has pictures of me hanging on his mirror, and a collage of some of my pictures growing up on the wall.

He has said several times. "I just lay out those pictures of you, and I just cry."

What do I say to that? What should I say to that?"

I don't say anything.

That's a hard way to live, sir. Hard way. I have surely done my share of crying, but I can't fully understand that type of crying. Not one bit.

So just like he doesn't understand me, I don't understand much about him.

And that's alright, too.

I know I don't have any figment or threat of "lashing out" of him in my heart. And I think that is something I needed to know. If only for myself. For I have suffered much under the eyes of people who think something is wrong with me because I don't have a relationship with either of my parents. I don't worry much about that these days. And I am long past the point of what people think about these days.

And like I said earlier, it is quite uncomfortable to sow the seed of time of spending time with my father. I think about how I will never get that half hour of time of my life back... ever again. I think about how I could be doing something else with that time. This sliver of time spent with him... I will never get back.

And I have realized a couple of things. First, it has proven to me, like I said above, that my motives aren't shady. I spend much time thinking about my motives, you see. That's the first thing I think about most days. I have come to realize those worries about motives have slowly faded to black.

And it also proves to me that I am at a place in my sowing that I want to be... automatic mode.

I can only describe that in an analogy of sorts. You remember when you were first learning how to drive? How you REALLY had to concentrate? And how scared and nervous you were?

And here you are, some 10 to 20 to 30 years later... You can drive a car and eat a burger and talk on the phone and shift that stick all at the same time. Heck, sometimes you even drive to a destination and you don't even remember how you got there.  And if you have moved, to a new job or new home, you find that you have driven to the old job or that old home. You have done it all so many time for so many years that it's just automatic.

A better example is how we act when our favorite song comes on. You know, that song you've loved since you were 10 years old. You know every note of that song. You know every word sung by the singer. Not only do you know every word, but you know every high note, every low note, every single inflection of the singer's voice. You've heard that song so much that there are things in that song that others haven't heard and will never hear.

That's because it hasn't gotten deep down inside of them. But it's gotten deep down inside of you.

It's your automatic.

In spiritual terms, that's called being renewed in the spirit of your mind. Things aren't forced... they're just automatic.  Not just changing your mind about things, but things are so anchored and rooted in your mind that it's your automatic.

Being problematic and dramatic and causing problems in the lives of others doesn't cross my mind. I never wake up in the morning or lay in bed at night thinking about how much I hate someone and trying to devise schemes to get them and mess them up simply don't cross my mind. It's foreign to me.

And that's a good thing, especially from someone like me who didn't feel loved by my first line of defense in life... my parents. I was raised in a selfish and hoarding household. I was raised in a household where one wrong word, opinion, action or expression was punished severely. I work on a job where gossip, backbiting, and laughter at the expense of other's pain is the order of the day.  I have always feared over the years that that these behaviors would be my "automatic".

And thank goodness it is not. I wake up with seed and trees and roots and fruits on my mind. I go to sleep with seed and trees and roots and fruits on my mind.

Spiritual farming is the order of my day, whether it be a thing of joy or a something uncomfortable.

And I think that's why it doesn't bother to be around my father that much. I still haven't determined how I feel about this. I am a bit neutral and indifferent. I don't know this man. And it's rough trying to come up with questions to ask him, or to have a general conversation with him. The characters of the cowboy movies he likes to watch are the more talkative people in the little room.

I have thought much about my discomfort and the reasons for such. Discomfort is an expression of fear. I have thought about what I'm fearing. I think I've feared his rejection, even at my old age of 43. Like I said, parents are supposed to be the first line of defense. And he hasn't been.

I have also feared that I was called because his family wants me to pay for his funeral if he dies. I thought much about that. That is a motive issue. I simply don't have the money for such. And if they have a problem with that, then that's on them. But I don't have to fear that. I've had to always worry about ulterior motives with folks, and I don't think that's on their mind. I think the man has been around their wailing about me when he is drunk or high. (At least that's what I gather from a couple of veiled convos with his niece). So it helps him to have me around, even though it's for a limited time a couple of times a month. "He better since you been around, got himself together. He got off that stuff."

That stuff. I don't know if it's crack or heroin, but as long as he get off his stuff, then good for him.

I know it's not alcohol, though. He speaks fondly of his "dranking", and has even lifted a gallon of liqour in my presence and sipped from it like he was sipping from a glass of fine wine. (I think I messed up a crochet stitch when I saw that. Goodness).

For myself, this has made me realize my "automatic" when it comes to sowing seed. It overrides my confusion, anger, and discomfort.

And I am looking forward to what it overrides in the future.

Well, that's the end of the seed series. It is not concisely written, but I think that if you tie all three posts together, you  have a reasonable snapshot of my ideas and thoughts on it all

In a nutshell, I live in a world where selfishness is the order of the day.

Well I am thankful that it's not the order of my day. It is not my destiny.

I am more than thankful for that. 


  1. Thank you for sharing this with us. You mentioned automatically driving somewhere. Just the other day I was driving somewhere on automatic and had to stop and turn around b/c that is not where I was suppose to go. But certain things do become habits and automatic. I notice this alot with Kayden. Now when I stop the car to get him out of his car seat, he instinctively holds his arms up in the air so I can get the car seat straps off of him. It kind of makes me giggle to see the things that he has learned to do and anticipates what I will do and helps me out a bit.

  2. It's been a minute since I've read one of your FFT posts. So glad I stopped by today. This one is chock full of goodness!

  3. May God bless you and your father!!


Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!