parenthood

What’s a good belief? (a poem)

What’s a good belief?

Believing in yourself in a sharp, vigorous, multi-colour reality,

When others see hazy, lazy, grey?

Believing in yourself while in a calm zen place,

So you can then step out into the noisy street, to believe in others?

Believing what you cannot see, hear, touch, smell or taste?

 

Love is something to feel, but not touch.

Love cannot be directly seen, heard, smelled or tasted either.

But you can directly break or make love.

And they say more of it is good.

Except when you hurt someone,

By loving their friend more.

 

Do you love that you still believe in love?

Or believe in love, to make sense of everything else?

 

What about ‘being the best you can’?

Perhaps not just an empty, threadbare cliché.

Instead, the slogan of a popular culture,

because success itself is popular and valued.

 

Success has become an industry with a momentum of its own.

Loads of people spend a career measuring success,

Arranging events that celebrate it,

Broadcasting it and contrasting it,

Advising or coaching others how to grasp success.

 

Love and success. Running free as the children of belief.

Wait. When you believe in children first, love and success will come.

The World is definitely circular…

Battle of the Sexes

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http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/aug/21/john-mcenroe-says-he-could-beat-serena-williams

There isn’t a more pointless and ugly battle in the World than the battle of the sexes. Or the phobia/tension between homosexuals and heterosexuals. Or the phobia/tension some people have for trans-gender people.

Put a bunch of girls together and watch the bitchiness come out. Put a bunch of boys together and watch them drag everything to the lowest, crudest level. Put a TV camera in their face or mix the girls and boys together and everyone’s trying to make an impression. Go figure!

When parents get into a divorce battle, sadly their children can become cannon fodder. And worse, the kids blame themselves for the battle.

Fake it til you make it?

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Are people basically divided into two broad camps – the ‘fake it til you make it’ (the marketers & promoters) and the ‘keeping it real’ camp’?

‘Fake it til you make it’ is about projecting confidence, whether real or illusionary. It’s downside is arguably in making our social groups less cohesive and less real. ‘Fake it til you make it’ can be spectacularly successful – politicians, singers/rappers and A-list movie actors being examples of this. Ironically though, politicians campaign to solve real problems, rappers rap about their gritty own life struggle to success, whilst successful actors choose to star in movies that often have themes of real strength from overcoming adversity of some kind.

Some pioneering cultures have a phrase about ‘keeping it real’. Others talk about ‘keeping your feet firmly on the ground’ (unless you work for the weather service, the airlines, the navy, NASA or Virgin Galactic).The ‘keeping it real’ camp includes support groups, social workers, therapists, counsellors, teachers, coaches, trainers and assessors of all kinds. This camp arguably advocates that ‘struggling to succeed is simply walking the journey’ is what life is about and that being honest about this struggle helps us to build important bridges with fellow human beings. In the world of entertainment, reality shows are in theory about ‘keeping it real’, although programme directors inevitably choose hyping the truth over the reality, if if means improving the viewer ratings in a competitive industry.

What about in the field of design – which camp do designers fall into? Steve jobs said ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’ In product design, great and successful designers don’t tolerate fake. They are obsessed with building amazing, perfection and excellence. In contrast, fine artists can excell at illusion in their art, folling the viewer’s eye into almost believing the two dimensional is actually the three dimensional. Or that the World shown within their art reveals a far more beautiful perspective on the World outside. Musical artists and actors generally want to create real. It’s the marketing staff of their companies that want auto-tune, edit and airbrush.

Whichever of the two camps a person falls into, perhaps real performance is still the key goal and ambition the driving force. Oscar Wilde famously said ‘all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.’ Life arguably isn’t about ‘suffer in silence’, ‘know your place’ and ‘mustn’t grumble’. It is about ‘be the best that you can be’, ‘dare to dream’, ‘give yourself a break’, ‘learn from your mistakes’, ‘recognise the perfect parent does not exist’,  ‘respect yourself’ and ‘strength through adversity.’

Lastly, somewhere along the line, as we switched from selling the products of our labour to selling the services of ourselves, the ‘fake it til you make it’ mantra started to dominate, in business, in our romantic lives (as singles) and increasingly, everywhere else. How do we jolt ourselves out of that mantra?

More Dadly, more manly…

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What’s the essence of manly? Arguably it’s being dadly. Not fatherly, hunkly, studly, playerly, or suger-daddily. But why? Dads deliver the goods. Not always with the slickest style, the sweetest smile, the flashest dancing, or the charmiest words. Instead, Dads do it with simple, raw, worthy actions. And deep enduring love somehow comes running! Not in a way the Dads understand or can even explain. But in a way they can believe when they see it. Complaints come running too. But tempered with a shrug, a slight grin and a shake of the head.

So how can us Dads get across the coolness of Dadly to hunks, to studs, to players and to sugar-daddies that they’re just a caterpillar lifeform on the way to butterflyhood?

We have a sacred mission. And for us step-Dads, it’s a mission made one step harder. But then, what’s character unless it’s tested?  We’re manly enough to take a character test in our stride.

But what does dadly mean for the kids? Unlike for the Dad’s partner, you are completely uncool. But when you listen, you listen some more, you set some boundaries, you help, you fund, you build them up, you protect them from life’s disappointments, you earn a place in their hearts, cool or not. And so it goes…

Going off the reservation, taking the road less travelled, taking a walk on the wild side…

dont-give-up  Kids boredom

In my experience, it’s the small tributaries of the river, the overlooked pockets, and the unexpected that offer the most value. Whether you’re a traveller, a student, an explorer, a researcher, or an investigator, what is fresh, what’s genuine and what is original, is the stuff outside the mainstream and off the beaten track. Another aid is in joining up our unexpected insights from one ‘tributary’ with those of another. And by holding two opposing ideas or concepts in your head (as a traveller, reflecting on what you see through local values and through your own cultural values is an example of this). In some ways, stating all this is blindingly obvious, but in others, it’s revealing a pathway to the sublime & subtle.

We make progress as a species, as a culture and as individuals, by pushing our buttons. By pushing our boundaries, making improvements and gathering new insights. So far, we’ve done this faster than any other species, except perhaps viruses. And it’s been high-growth-off-a-high-base too.

Is human love more advanced than the love shown in other species? It’s hard for us to see, even when as researchers and nature filmers, we’re looking hard. The love an animal mother shows for its offspring, given its mental and sensory capabilities, is probably just as valid as human love for other people, given our own mental and sensory capabilities. And arguably, we’re more prone to cruelty and indifference than other species too. Especially since our awareness of the World (and the Universe) is so much greater.

Finally, is it wrong to let our children get bored? On the list of wrongness towards children, I doubt it figures in the top ten, although you may disagree. However, given the direction the World is going, we’re going to need to maximise human creativity like never before.

Like for many things, the earlier you start, the more proficient you can become. Perhaps already, we provide:

-too much of too few types of entertainment and

-entertainment without mental challenge,

to the younger generations (and ourselves). As an aside, we arguably produce too much content that simply feeds our basic emotions and prejudices too.

Technology that encourages people:

-to screen out the complexities of life that we should not ignore,

-to screen out the information we need, to make informed decisions with, as parents, as voters and as citizens,

isn’t something to be applauded and worshipped. Instead, we should be critical of it and demand better. All of us, including our kids need to become those critics.

Parenthood 2

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Parents want to be coaches to their kids. Their kids just want them to be cheerleaders!

As a parent, leaning in is seen as interference. Stepping back feels like loss of control, but it does provide overview.

Becoming a parent  – way bigger than dating someone from another culture, changing religion, or undergoing gender reassignment.

Parenthood 1

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If you’re a parent, try to only pay forward your hopes and your inheritance. Not your insecurities and your debts.

When a child first learns to say no, don’t despair. That’s the beginning of a lifetime of them making their own stamp on the World.

Parents spend a lifetime learning things the hard way, so they hope their kids can learn important lessons from them the fast way. Kids  try to learn  off their friends, or from online games and think they’re learning key stuff the fun way & the easy way. Real life is waiting patiently to teach them the consequences of their choices (about who they learn from)…  Then ironically as parents, they hope their own kids will learn important lessons the fast way…