As it grew darker last Tuesday, and the girls got their costumes ready, Ally asked if I believed in ghosts.
No, I do not believe in ghosts or spirits. But I do believe in memories.
I believe in the collective memory of all the people doing what human beings have always done before me. Being a parent, being a Dad, being a son, being a man. Getting it right sometimes. Screwing it up sometimes.
Whether spirits exist or not, we are never alone. Memories, for me, are a benign presence, not a haunting one. They exist to teach, advise, caution, and inspire with all that prior experience.
They protect us. They reassure us. They give us company.
A new co-worker found out about my book thing. Like a lot of people, she wanted to know how I got it done. How did I write books and work a full-time job?
The pat answer is that you don’t write a book in one chunk. You write it a little at a time, day by day. If it’s important to you, you find the time.
And maybe that’s how it is now after I’ve made writing a habit. But it didn’t start that way. I finished the first book because I didn’t know any better. This quote from Orson Welles when asked where his confidence came from says it better than I can:
“Ignorance! Ignorance! Sheer ignorance, you know. There’s no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession that you’re timid or careful.”
Sometimes it’s far better not to know. Go on an adventure, people. Don’t wait. Be an amateur, explore the untried and find new ground.
We are coming up on report card and conference season and this is just a reminder to myself not to get distracted. Easier said than done. Life has a way of filling any empty space with opportunities, responsibilities, competition, glitter. It can consume us.
So this is a reminder to myself: keep the main thing, the main thing. This might be different for every family or individual but for me, as a Dad, it’s not to lose sight of the main job: raising well-adjusted, self-reliant, decent, happy kids. It’s not hitting benchmarks, or a certain GPA, or college.
The main thing is for them to be healthy, have good values, and have a good sense of who they are and what they want to spend their life on.
Everything else is secondary. Nice, but not necessary.
P.S., The main main thing, of course, is to love them and to love them while we can. I don’t generally need a reminder of that.