Monday, June 19, 2006

The Human Condition

June 19

Yesterday was one of those quiet Sundays with nothing on the agenda and so little happening that I found myself climbing the walls. Usually I look forward to such days and wallow in their unlimited emptiness; yesterday I kept wondering when something was going to happen. I was inside my own mind, and I found it as hollow as could be.

Today I awaken feeling that I have wonderful things to do, an opportunity to change some of the negatives that hatched over the weekend, and time enough on my hands to effect positive results. This is the little swing game we play -- I'm down now, but not for long; I can do this; don't take me out of the game, Coach! -- and simultaneously wonder why we bother. It's kinda the time when we find ourselves making batter for pancakes.

I had worked for weeks on the Father's Day post, and called and emailed people alerting them to read it. But it contributed to my light malaise that nobody did. Let's say I expected a reaction. I thought someone, whether a protègé, grandchild, slight acquaintance, or even someone who never laid eyes on him, would comment something about the post, either on the blog or in email. I tell myself that no comment doesn't mean an uninteresting post. Maybe it was so perfect there is nothing to say.

Be that as it may I spent a lot of time checking the Site Meter that tells who's been on (or at least where they come from). Clearly "benedict s." who has posted about my father on his own blog several times, was out of town on vacation and hasn't read it yet. There was a reader in New York State who may have been my daughter -- who never reads the blog but had been blackmailed the day before by me to do so -- but why would she not have telephoned or sent an email about it, even if she didn't like it? There was one reader who knew my dad who double-clicked on the photo but didn't comment. And Jocko, who was given the message to read my blog (I assume) by his wife yesterday, doesn't seem to have been online at all.

The big question, which I asked myself yesterday and you are surely asking now, is what earthly difference would it make if I had gotten lots of comments? I had clearly done the job, I spent a lot of time on my own, with the objective being to write something about my father that said "All fathers are not alike. My father was not like any other I read about, but I loved him too." Well, I said that -- now, who was I saying it to, and why did I expect to get a pat on the back from anyone? Of course the answer is I wanted a response from the man himself, and I didn't get it. As he would have said, "How the hell do you expect to get it?"

And the answer, lame as it is, is that that need is part of the human condition. We don't know exactly why we do things. The things we do defy logic, and our emotions surrounding them have nothing to do with real expected outcomes. I think I would have enjoyed a good old-fashioned wake, with all the people who ever knew him gathered around to share stories and tears and then to get on with it. The enigmatic figure of a father who is gone is a phantom we wrestle with from time to time; I did my job and cannot expect to receive any reward for it.

This unexpected surge of optimism about a new week is another aspect of the human condition. The art teacher officially turned us down at the school; there wasn't a quorum at the board meeting so I'll reschedule; we've got to scrape up money from somewhere for the ad budget; lots to do, lots to do. No more heavyweight posts on the blog for the nonce. ("For the nonce" was a phrase Daddy like and used sparingly, by the way; maybe it's time for me to let it go) I'll let inspiration hit like a lightning bolt, help get other projects organized, make pancakes, visit the nursing home, and stick to the diet (I've got three weeks til the one-year anniversary, got to have 10 lbs. off). All the little daily tasks, organized for short-term goals, will assume logical proportions, and life will take on a semblance of normalcy as things get accomplished.


jon said...

It was read over here by two whom had similar, but at the same time very different fathers. Common to both is that they loved and guided their off spring and gave their half of genetically based health, appearance, and smarts to us which we passed on to our own progeny. Character,to some degree, must be inate as well, especially that which is deep within and not easily seen by others. Though I never met my spouse's father, I feel that I know him. I probably would have said, "yes, sir" and "no, sir" to him, a two way implication. Though all go through a rebellious and independent stage, I strive to not provide a basis for shame. It has been important to be approved of by my father, which has not been easy since my older sibs are Capt America and Queen of Life, the apple of his eye and first born. My father was an out going people person who served his community and profession, sometimes too much, maybe. He kept tiny journals where he noted names, birthdays, relatives, hometowns etc. which was like an extended family tree, of sorts,for Alabama and the southeast. He claimed he could get a free bed in any county in the state. We found these 'years' of tiny books after his death in 1992 at age 81. All who met him also met his constant invisible companion, "Joe", who hid somewhere over his shoulder when Dad pulled a coin or stick of gum magically from behind your ear. I think he pulled this even to a State legislator or two during his 20 years of lobbying for Vocational Education. Joe's voice was squeeky and far off sounding and never said much. Dad's digital Creepskie-mouse found only a few ribs in all his hunting trips while on the front porch swing because the search tickled so much. My Dad loved to entertain kids. On May 31, 2006, he was inducted into the Vocatioal History Honor and Awards museum at Auburn University.

John Sweden said...

Hej ff,

Sorry not to have responded, but in all honesty it was such a nice piece of artful writing that the only response would have been another as well written and revealing work. Since it took you weeks to do so you can understand the inability to respond in kind, especially since I did my father’s day response several posts ago. Also there is a frustration of time frames where by the time you mull over a response that’s more than quick one liner, it’s a blog or two to late. I did like and related to the part about the psychological profiles. Another aspect is that your blog, much to its credit, focuses on real places and real people. That requires real responses. I mean, how do you respond to a Morris Timbes, Curtis Willard, Gretchen Woods or the Centers of Universes inhabited by the host of other interesting people you have introduced us to. One could dismiss and dispatch them with banalities or clever one-liners or go that place in our own life and experiences that does justice to their being. That takes a little time, a little thought, and large love of things real.

oldphilospher said...

Talk about emotional blackmail! You have ways of inducing guilt, doncha, lady?

Finding Fair Hope said...

Err, yes, I guess so, oldphil. My daughter emailed me, "I vaguely remember the sugar cane."