I am reading another interesting book, this one is by Father Richard Rohr. It’s title is “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.” I find this book enlightening and realistic. At least in my life. A short description might be good. This is the first paragraph of the overview given by Barnes and Noble. “In the first half of life, we are naturally and rightly preoccupied with establishing our identity – climbing, achieving, and performing. But those concerns will not serve us as we grow older and begin to embark on a further journey, one that involves challenges, mistakes, loss of control, broader horizons, and necessary suffering that actually shocks us from our prior comfort zone.” Rohr calls this falling down, while subsequently pointing out that this process actually helps us to move up.
I am always looking for ways of understanding my past, present, and future. I want to grow and be a productive human being in my older years. The last thing that I want to do when I am in my 80’s is sit on my porch and yell out to my young neighbors, because I am so bitter about life, that they are a bunch of communists. My Dad actually called me that one time. Number one, I don’t want to just sit on the porch when I am 80. I want to be active and productive if and when I hit that point. Number two I want to look back at my first life, as Rohr calls it, and see the value of falling down as it relates to my second life. The last thing I want is to waste time crying over spilled milk.
I have had many failures in the past. Too many to describe here, and I really don’t want put them all into print anway. However, I do recognize that these failures have helped to define who I am today. I feel pretty good in this second life that I have been led to.
It is interesting that I am in a place where I never dreamed I would be. I enjoy being a professor. I love teaching my classes, getting to know my students, and writing down my thoughts. I have several papers I hope to get published soon. So I like my new life.
I love my wife, although we struggle at times, but the cost of discipleship is high, and our relationship is critical to life’s lessons. So although we don’t always see eye-to-eye, the process of disagreement actually helps us fall upward.
As I write this though there is a type failure that I am still trying to grasp its meaning. I am still trying to understand what it is, and how it is helping me move upward. To illustrate this I’d like to describe a conversation my wife and I had on a walk on Sunday. We discussed grades we would give our parents. I stated that I would give my mom a solid A, while I would give my Dad an F. My wife asked, “did he beat you or sexually abuse you?” I said no, and therefore changed the grade to a C-. This caused my wife and I to wonder what type of grades our kids would give us.
This discussion may seem disrespectful to my Dad, but he had a lot of problems that I blame on his upbringing. However, due to some of my experiences I did not want to be like him. Not only did I want to be a great Dad, and I wanted, and want, to be an excellent grandpa. I did have an incredible grand father.
Well, due to circumstances I was not the Dad I wanted to be, and became disconnected and emotionally aloof. This caused problems with my four daughters. I was estranged from my two oldest daughters, and emotionally disconnected from my other two daughters. This has been painful for me, and I am sure not very fun for my daughters.
Over the last couple of years I have come to grips with my loss. I was not the Dad I thought I was going to be. As a result I lost out on being the grandfather I thought I would be, except to one grand daughter that is my life. But I have come to grips with this, and have fallen upward. With the two younger daughters we have moved upward. I feel like I am there for them now, and I think they feel it too. My oldest daughter, that lives in Tacoma, and I have reconnected and we are at peace. I don’t know what this means for the future, but we have started a process.
The one painful spot is the other daughter. I think she is the one the most like me. We are still estranged due to my mistake. I want to fix it, but have no idea how. But if Rohr is right, and I think he is, then this is a necessary process to move into a productive higher life. Right now I don’t see how, but I will trust that God is at work.
And that is my cathartic thought for the day!