...but you do have to take a moment to appreciate it.
It never ceases to amaze me just how much my son challenges me to be better today than I was yesterday. In fact, my mentor who passed away last December probably captured it best on Trey's fourth birthday by saying, "Trey, it sure has been fun watching you help your father grow up these past four years."
Now, there are zingers, and then there are ZINGERS. That statement was one of jest, respect and FACT. The truth is O.K. was right on target. I do not look at the world remotely the same as I did before I became a father, or a husband for that matter. As the year has gone by, I have really thought long and hard about this. I think the Olympics, the election cycle and my son playing on the playground have been the areas that most came into conflict with this thought. Not necessarily in a bad way, but certainly in a challenging hard to find a peaceful center place.
When I was a child growing up in Alabama there were ample opportunities to play sports and have teammates, but there were strict lines as to what teammates could or could not be friends once that game was over. Frequently, these rules were unspoken, but nonetheless were clearly defined and clearly understood. It was either accepted or unchallenged as the way things were. So much so, that if you went to a playground, the kids might be playing with each other in the middle, but the parents were kind of in a four corners look and did not dream of interacting. I still remember the look of confusion a kid playing would get when his/her parent would make that head nod or hand gesture that meant playing with THAT kid was not acceptable. It is amazing how quickly innocence was lost on my generation.
I have found this election cycle to be more of the same, only much worse. The days seem to be gone where varying views can be discussed and a compromise found. People and ideas are merely dismissed with malice if someone dares hold an opposing view. This 'my way or the highway" approach that BOTH the RNC and DNC have both fully endorsed is nothing short of sad, frustrating, divisive and absurd.
Does anyone remember the ad tagline, "Stop the insanity!"? How many people have unsubscribed from a friend on Facebook until after the election? Or, worse yet, are no longer firends at all? How many people agree with me that the only shared thought amongst republicans and democrats on election day will be, "How can someone in their right mind vote for the other guy"?
So, after turning off Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC where does one find real hope? Ironically, not very far from where it all began for me; at the playground. Physically, the playground does not look very much different at all, but that is where the similarities stop. Today, the kids just play with a freedom and impunity that only kids can. The four corners are now only reserved for mother's with screaming babies, and most likely there is another parent there reminding them they are not alone. The rest of the parents are intermingled with each other marveling at the kids growing up before their eyes. There is not much concern at all for race, creed, religion, or even parental sexual orientation. It is, as it should be, all about the kids.
My apologies for the rant, but I wanted to remind myself that family and friendship are way more important than anything else I might mistakenly put at the top of the list. If I reminded someone else too, well that is a just a bonus.
So, to Trey and ALL of his friends, I say thank you for reminding me that things are not always as bad as the news outlets and pundits would have me believe and march in lockstep to. The hope is out there people. We just have to do a better job of embracing solutions, rather than holding on to blame and staying stuck in the problem.