“The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” Timothy J. Russert
This quote makes me chuckle a bit. I read these simple words a few years back and remember thinking how true it was. Last Sunday was Father’s Day. As I got dressed, my youngest son, Charlie was asking several questions as he always does these days. He keeps me in check, and at times, backs me into a corner, forcing me to navigate his manipulative-three-year-old mind.
Did I do that as a kid? No way…. not me. Well, maybe. I still like to see what I can get away with at times.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror; rather a glimpse of what seemed to be a few more gray hairs. I paused. My chuckle returned as did those words, and I realized my old man was right. In fact, as we got into the car and drove to the Russian River where we planned to spend Father’s Day, I thought of how right my father was about most things. Funny how that works….how a lot of what we do or what we say can completely alter with time. An old friend used to say, “Seasons change my friend. Seasons change.”
I’ve always been drawn to “seasonal life”. I learned this about myself in my early twenties where I spent every summer as a river guide. The spring season would arrive with high water, bringing adventure and excitement. Mid summer would roll around with stronger friendships, more experience, and stories galore. Many important life lessons and decisions were made on those rivers. After all, it’s where I met the love of my life. We even got married and had one hell of a party on the river.
Eventually, the end of the busy season would wrap up in the early fall, and guides were left grumpy and tired and ready for it all to be over. Before long, winter would come and school/part time jobs would become monotonous. Perfect timing though; that meant it was river season again!
Jack and Charlie stood river-left on one of the Russian River beaches. The big sweeping bend offered plenty of options for exploration. Angi and I watched as the boys threw rock after rock into the giant eddy directly in front of us (Note-an eddy is defined as a circular movement of water, counter to a main current, causing a small whirlpool. River guides maneuver their rafts out of the current into an eddy to either stop or slow down). No words were exchanged between us, but we both knew this moment was wonderful. I’ve always enjoyed the trepidation and avidity when running a river; the yearn to discover what might lay around the next bend.
Since Jack was born, I haven’t spent much time enjoying the seasonal ebbs and flows like I used to. The cyclical lifestyle has become a bit more serious these days. The entrepreneur, the Type-A, the eagerness to grow and challenge myself has somewhat crushed my free spirit. Seasonal life is still very alive and active as I run my family painting business and tech start-up. However, down river has become an accurate P&L, balance sheet, strict schedule, and strategic plan for the unknown. Throw in fatherhood, a non-profit, special needs, and childhood leukemia…. life can be busy. Instead of providing meals and whitewater action to guests, I now provide a living and service to my employees, customers, and family. Don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said about that. I enjoy the freedom of running my own business(es) and everything that comes with it.
Jack ran in front of Charlie just a he was reaching back to throw a rock, barely missing his face. The father in me reprimanded Charlie for his actions and lack of awareness; mostly because of the potential outcome and worry. Ah yes, I remember my dad saying, “Wait until you have kids!”
It was time to leave the rocky beach and grab some lunch. Both boys started in on a tantrum/whine-fest. They didn’t want to leave. Jack, being non-verbal and exceptionally opinionated, expresses himself by yelling and crying when he doesn’t necessarily agree with or want to follow your lead. Charlie, on the other hand uses his verbal skills at full capacity and will attempt any and every way to alter your instruction. I put Charlie’s shoes back on, and remember thinking- I always hated leaving the river at the end of a trip.
Charlie and I met in the middle, and the four of us threw a few more rocks before heading off to lunch.
My father is right- it’s not always about what’s around the next bend or downstream. I should eddy out more often and throw a few rocks.
Happy Father’s Day!