Fatherly Advice with a Focus on Unconditional Love

» I get mail (from all around the world) saying things like » "I originally found your site while searching for advice on [ some technical thing ] but return perodically to check out your latest post about parenting."

Patton's 6-part advice to his son stationed at West PointI even get postcards from around the planet addressed to "Rad & the Bug" ..

.. most recently one from South Africa (.. that sports a spectacular, other-worldly shot of Drakensberg).

Those fatherhood entries can be written from the top of the mountain or the pit of despair.

But if others are able to find in them something edifying, then maybe they're worthwhile.

(For me, writing can be a form of » therapy.)

I was really missing the Bug this Easter weekend. Not sure why. Perhaps cuz of the holiday, tho I suspect that wasnt the real reason.

Because our time together is so short since school began, I've begun teaching him little snippets of "Dad Advice".

I'm talking about things that are too important to just think up. Far too important. Rather I wait for ideas to bubble up from within. Fatherly inspiration that comes from deep in my heart.

The 1st, for example (.. as I've previously mentioned) was based on the advice Shakespeare put into the mouth of Polonius [ in Hamlet ]:

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou can not then be false to any man."

Be true to yourself. Be honest with yourself. Brutally honest. Know thyself. Great advice for anybody, not just kids. Advice that has echoed down thru the centuries.

[ Of course, it's much easier to be brutally honest with OTHERS .. than with ourselves. A lot more fun, too. To the point that some people seem to make a career out of it. ]

Honor yourself by being TRUE to yourself .. without which you cannot honor others (.. with your TRUE self). And it must follow (.. as the night the day).

Tho I put it this way, so a 1st grader could understand it:

THINK for yourself.
TRUST yourself.
BE yourself.

And yes, he gets it. After I could see he had a handle on that one, a few weeks later came (#2):

"You can do anything you put your mind to."

This one I actually got from an old girlfriend, who told me how her dad continually reinforced this message from the time she was just a little girl.

And yes it was clear that she did indeed believe it to be true .. seeing there was nothing she wouldnt "put her mind to" (.. including me). Obviously, that made quite an impression.

Pooh & Piglet Looking for ButterfliesThen, last week I told him (#3) »

"Dont compare yourself with anybody, except who you can become, given your God-given talents and abilities.

Everybody has special gifts & talents. So you want to learn what yours are and put them to good use."

I remember my grandfather (mom's dad) telling me a version of this one when I was just a little thing, while we were driving around town .. and it helped me throughout my life.

It's very easy for kids, given the sports they play and academics in school, to compare themselves with others. I still remember gramps telling me:

"There are always gonna be kids who are SMARTER than you and those who arent as smart. There are always gonna be kids who are FASTER than you and those who arent as fast.

No matter how smart or how fast you get. All you can do is YOUR BEST. And if you do that, you'll always be a winner."

Next up .. "This is something you should KNOW," I told him, "rather than something you should DO."

"I love EVERYTHING about you!" I told him. "You should know 'My dad loves EVERYTHING about me'."

The message here is one of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE » "You cant do anything to make me love you any more .. cuz I already love EVERYTHING about you."

In other words » "You're valuable & special because of WHO YOU ARE .. rather than WHAT YOU DO." (We're talking about a first grader.)

••• today's entry continues here below •••

I've been trying, recently .. even more than I usually do .. to develop my capacity to/for LOVE. I mean, not just the Bug. (He is easy to love.)

I've been told I'm pretty good already » thoughtful, kind, considerate, compassionate. But I'd like to become even better.

Tho, uh, it's funny .. cuz it SEEMS .. the moment I decided to really try to be more loving .. people started being incredibly uncool .. hurtful, spiteful, nasty, ugly .. i-would-eat-your-heart-if-i-had-a-bourbon-chaser-to-wash-it-down. Downright vicious.

Like there was some kind of unseen interlock .. connecting one to the other. Weird. Previously sweet people. Strange timing.

I wont even tell you what the cop said when he walked up to me at the pizza place a few weeks go and asked, "Are you, ___?" Cuz you wont believe it.

Heck, I dont even believe it myself. And I was sitting right there. (The Bug was there, too. Not his first such experience, either, unfortunately.)

That sucked pretty bad. The cop was super-cool about it .. tho it's never a very appetizing experience to see a cop walking DIRECTLY toward you. Cant be good for the Bug, either. So let's change the subject.

Baloo & Mowgli | Jungle Book» Warren & Eva

Back when I lived in Pennsylvania (Lancaster), I met this couple (right, named Warren & Eva) at a generic church there.

One day after church they came up and invited me over to their place [ aka » the "big white barn" ] for lunch ..

.. where they told me, over a surprisingly tasty lunch, how/that they had made a decision .. to be as LOVING as possible.

I mean, like that was their thing, their gig. What they felt God wanted them to do. Where and how to focus their energies. Their God Gig, you might say.

I forget the exact way they put it, but that was the gist.

Walking human angels. Caring. Compassionate. They oozed love and had fun at it. I mean, it wasnt like they were trying to keep it a secret. I must admit: they were very good as making you feel genuinely loved.

Inspiringly so. And, in a way » AWE inspiring.

The closest thing I can compare them to is that of a talented/intuitive massage therapist, who seems to know *just* where you're tight, and focuses her healing touch there .. right at the perfect spot .. in just the right way .. with just the right pressure.

Warren was this big, burly, lumberjack-type of guy who would jump up and welcome you with open arms before giving you a giant bear hug every time you stopped by to visit .. soon as you came thru the door. Smiling the whole time (.. like he really meant it).

[ They lived on the 2nd story of an old renovated, converted barn. A white barn. With a loft. And a coal-burning pot-belly stove right in the center (.. but without the pot belly). Cool place.

Warren did the work himself, with a friend from church. Great view from the 2nd story deck. They had sheep and other animals. Creek in the back, across the field, where the woods began. The lower level remained a barn. ]

Eva would feed guests homemade treats of things I'd never even heard of before. (She made the best homemade apple sauce I've ever had. And those soups of hers.) Seems like they always had guests coming and going. Interesting/different people.

Eva had an uncanny ability to intuit your needs and moods. She could tell, for example, if you were having a bad day and needed quiet empathy instead of jovial joking.

Sometimes she'd walk up right in front of you, study your face, then furrow her brow and say, "Something's bothering you."

"How can you tell?" I asked, feeling emotionally naked. (I normally prefer to be alone when things are bothering me, and would never stop by if I didnt think I could hide it.)

And every time before I left, they'd always each grab one of my hands and pray for me. One of them on my left and the other on my right. They would join hands themselves to close the circuit.

And I could FEEL the electricity run up both my arms and down into my belly. Very cool, but hard to handle .. to the point that I had trouble talking after they finished praying for me (.. usually out on the deck).

I just smiled and waved as I walked away .. floating out of there .. making certain that I had a sure grip on the railing before taking each step .. one after another .. down the outside stairs.

Sometimes I'd sit quietly behind the wheel of the car for a few minutes before starting the engine .. not sure if I was fit to drive. [ "How do they DO that?" I often wondered. ]

They told me it was their experience that .. people are drawn to love .. like a magnet. That people crave it.

Hard to disagree. The whole time I knew them .. I never heard them say one unkind, critical or judgmental thing [ .. which, as everybody knows, tends to PUSH PEOPLE AWAY .. cuz NOBODY likes to be criticized). About anything. Ever.

And yes, people did come from all over. Like they were human magnets. It was like they had this special gift .. for being loving.

I mean, sometimes I'd be driving on my way home from work and the car seemed to turn down their road all by itself. And they'd usually have some interesting guest visiting. Out of my league. Way out.

I'd sit & listen. Rapt. Usually eating some yummy soup or homemade snack. (Their kitchen table was just a regular picnic bench.)

Tho today I'd never consider stopping by someone's place without calling first. But then it seemed totally natural. And they always seemed pleased I had stopped by.

I also remember my time with them as addictively peaceful. Quiet (.. except for the laughing).

After a particularly sukky week, I remember sitting in the candlelit bath (steam rising from the water) and praying, "God, when I get to heaven, I would like to have a place next door to Warren & Eva .. if that's possible."

I remember them asking me, in their home, not long after we had met » "So, tell us, how did someone like you come to find God?" .. and I told them my story ..

.. that I had never told anyone else .. because no one else asked or seemed interested ..

.. and I remember the look on their faces, when they said (something like) » "We've been at this a while, and we've never heard anything like that."

Marianne WilliamsonPractical Application of Love

In an effort to develop my abilities in the area of unconditional love, I've recently started reading the book titled » A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson (hundreds of positive reviews) ..

.. which is about "the practical application of love" .. from which comes one of the best quotes / passages I've ever read (anywhere):

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

That quote was actually how I learned about her. [ She has the domain name » marianne.com, which is very cool .. especially for a geek like me. ]

I've only recently begun reading this book, so I'm still viewing it with a skeptical eye. But she does say some intriguing things .. such as » when people are nasty and critical toward us, they are really crying out for love.

[ Really? Then there must be people who really want my love. =)

Tho I dont know anybody who wants or likes to be around people who are nasty to them. Do you?

So I dont understand why they dont just try to be kind & loving instead? Seeing that most people naturally tend to migrate toward beautiful things that bring them PLEASURE, and away from ugly things that bring them PAIN.

What's that old adage about how to catch more bees?

Why do some people pass over and ignore a hundred miles of God's beauty and grandeur and positive attributes .. until they find that ONE thing that they dont like .. to focus on? What causes somebody to do that?

Why focus on the negative .. when there are so many positive, beautiful things all around?

Especially when life is so short and we cant take anything with us .. when every day is a precious gift. And their supply is FINITE (.. as in » not infinite).

Who wants to be around somebody who sees only the negative in every situation? (Might as well shoot me now and put me out of my misery.) Why do people torture themselves like that?

My experience has been .. that there's plenty of ugliness already out there. We neednt go looking for it. It will come find you on its own. (Be patient.)

Some people get their asses kicked and still somehow manage to find a kind thing to say .. with others are given a spectacular panorama of beauty .. but they can't get over coyote that shits on the hillside.

Maybe it's just me, but I've always interpreted statements such as » "You're doing THIS wrong," and "You're doing THAT wrong," and "I dont like THIS about you," and "I dont like THAT about you" .. as .. »

 » "I dont like you, and I dont want you around, so I'm trying to push your ugly ass away." 

Conditional Love = ManipulationThis is why I dont understand Marianne's point. Seems back-asswards, no? Or is there something I'm missing? (I already mentioned how I dont understand women.)

Obviously .. a person cant love "everything about you" (.. displaying unconditional love) .. if they frequently feel an uncontrollable urge to tell you all the shit about you that they DONT LIKE.

Because once you've had an unconditional taste of Prime Rib, my friend, it's hard to go back to a steady diet of baloney sandwiches. Very hard. (Impossible.)

Now you might think that a person who was subject to the manipulations of conditonal love and its accompanying criticisms as a CHILD would know better than anybody ..

.. how badly it suks .. to be criticized & manipulated, and would therefore grow up to be one of God's Most Loving creatures.

But .. that doesnt seem to be the way it works. Seems more like criticism, and the manipulation of conditional love, is a learned behavior, and those who were MOST criticized (and manipulated) as children learn those things best.

Some people seem compelled to "fix" everyTHING and everyONE around them. Now you might suppose this is because it makes them feel superior. But if you look closely, you'll find that it's simply because the idea of looking deep inside long enough to fix themselves .. TERRIFIES them ..

.. that maybe they were unloved (.. which naturally might make them feel as tho they are unlovable, or even unworthy of love).

Better to distract themselves by focusing their attention on the foibles around them. Any foible. Any distraction. So they end up trying to "fix" everyone and everything around them .. except for the ONE thing that really needs fixing.

Isaiah says we'll be led by » peace. I dont know anybody who has ever found much peace in the presence of a critical, complaining person. You? (I didnt think so.) Paul says the same.

Christians are instructed to "encourage and build up" one another .. not criticize and tear down.

The truly sad thing about a person who attacks someone with the INTENTION to HARM .. is that they disqualify themselves from one of life's greatest experiences » the emotional intimacy that comes only thru and with emotional vulnerability.

Because nobody can (or is willing to) make themselves emotionally vulnerable to a person who they know may/will attack them. At least no sane person.

This is why I've always felt sad for critical people who say hurtful things .. because they miss out on one of the best parts of life, as tho they only lead half a life .. unaware of what they're missing.

Speaking of unconditonal love .. I picked up the Bug a few weeks ago at the PARK. When he saw me, he immediately started running toward me .. in a full sprint. What a feeling that was!

Another time, I picked him up at school, and as we were walking out (.. with ALL the other kids) hand-in-hand, a friend of his called out from the crowd and bid him Goodbye.

The Bug turned, waved with his free hand, paused for a sec, then added, "This is my dad."

Almost makes me wanna cry.

Every kid should know what it feels like to be loved unconditionally .. by both parents. The world would be a better place. A much better place. ]

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson River in New YorkSo .. other than this point of hers that appears to be counter-intuitive, the more I read, the more Marianne rings true.

She seems to say a lot of bible stuff in non-religious ways.

[ I'm normally not into those kinds of books, preferring rather to see what Dostoyevsky had to say about » the purifying effect of suffering ..

.. or what Flanagan has to say about » how to program with Javascript, or Walter has to say about » what made Einstein Einstein, or even what Dan has to say about » how the mind works. ]

She also says something I've long-since noticed myself » that people who feel like they need to CONTROL their external environment .. do so because they feel OUT OF control inside. (Check for yourself and you'll see she's right.)

In other words, control freaks are control freaks for a reason » because inside, they feel OUT OF control. It makes sense once you think about it and see it in action.

[ Just as, in the same way the neat-freak or the clean-freak can't stop cleaning (.. even when they want to) .. because inside they feel dirty. (» Unclean) ]

We all have our moments of insecurity, but some seem to have them to a dysfunctional degree and lasting for unhealthy durations.

Marianne has LIVED the stuff she writes about, so that makes her book infinitely more appealing (.. than a distant, unemotional detached academic theorectical discourse). I mean, it's not like she says, "You guys need to love more .. so go get at it."

I believe (not sure yet) that she suggests (via the title) that MIRACLES come from love.

GandhiAscent Up Mt. Impossible

I have even been trying to be kind & loving toward people who are nasty to me.

Tho this is not easy. I mean, like » REAL hard. It is like trying to climb very close to the summit of Mt. Impossible. At least, for me it is.

You, Jesus and Gandhi might have an easier time at it. But I still have a ways to go .. tho I'm heading in that general direction. Up the mountain. (Getting a good work-out, for sure.)

Most of my friends see no point in even trying. It's my love for the Bug that makes me wanna try. (Cuz that's what he wants.)

And I must say, I'm making measurable progress. Remarkable .. for me. (I want to be the most loving dad I can possibly be.)

Tho my nuclear-grade loving-kindness seems to be having the exact opposite effect that you might expect. Weird. Almost as if their actions are saying, "If you'll be an asshole, I'll be nice to you."

[ Uh, I wont even TRY to explain that one. Tho, on second thought, maybe they equate niceness with weakness and asshole-ishness with strength. Ya think? ]

The hardest thing .. is when the Bug gets caught in the crossfire .. when the tactical nuclear weapons are aimed at MOI. I honestly dont think anyone can really appreciate the suckiness of that .. without having a personal, vested interest.

It's certainly one of .. if not THE SINGLE MOST difficult thing .. that I have to deal with. (Our birthdays are barely 1-day apart and we're close in other ways, too.) I ended up writing my Congressman .. desperate for help.

I could write a small book on how I clawed my ass up Mt. Forgiveness. You need supernatural help to do that (.. or real good drugs).

This subject is difficult for me to discuss. (Or maybe I'm just not ready yet.) So let's return to » Fatherly Advice.

Patton's 6-part advice to his son stationed at West Point» Isaiah's Promise & Patton's Advice

Not every day, but almost every day, I read that verse in Isaiah .. the one that says:

All thy children shall be taught of the LORD, and great shall be the peace of thy children.

I lay claim to the provisions of that promise with everything within me.

I have two recent photos of the Bug .. that I keep them on the night stand beside my bed.

Before I go to sleep, I open my Bible to the page where that verse is found. (It almost falls open there on its own, now.)

I *touch* the two photos with my fingers, and read those verses aloud, personalizing them.

It does bring a calming sense of peace and well-being and seems to help me have good dreams about him.

"Taught of the LORD." I bet HE has some good advice for kids. =)

Along these lines (.. of fatherly advice) » HERE are 6 bits of advice that Patton gave his son while he [his son] was a cadet at West Point.

[ I once played a round of golf at a course across the river (the Hudson) from West Point, while working there in New York, at the Indian Point nuclear plant .. some 30 miles north of New York City. ]

At the time that Patton wrote that advice to his son, he was commanding the 3rd Army across Europe during WWII. Kicking ass & taking names. (Mostly German names.)

I should close today by mentioning that .. the distance to which true love will go .. is indeed an astonishing thing. Totally irrational. ■

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on April 10, 2012 4:10 AM.

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