Inimical Instructions 6/05/09
Don't let anyone tell you that it doesn't matter what you think. Of course it matters. Above all else thinking matters the most.
DB - The Vagabond
Things that must be written, must be written.
I made an appointment and went to see a very wise man, a well known provider of good advice and positive, practical solutions to life's problems and difficulties, My problem was that I felt I had no purpose and direction in my life, that I was aimlessly working as an actor with no reason nor objective, that I really didn't have any value in the world. In response to his questions I told him about growing up.
My father died when I was 4 years old. They never told me that he died. All they said was that he wasn't coming back. My mother, my grandmother, my sister and my brother; none of them told me. They say that I cried for many days afterward. For the next 8 years I expected him to return. The phone would ring, there was a knock on the door, it might be my father. I would look out the windows of cars and buses to see if he was walking down the street. Why did he abandon me? It must be my fault. I wanted to find him, to apologize and bring him back home. Finally, at the age of about 12 years, I accepted that he was in truth never coming back. Why didn't they tell me? Why wasn't I valuable or important enough to be told the truth?
The relationship with my mother was adversarial, My brother and sister left shortly after that, but when they were around they either ignored me or were critical of me. There was no love. I was not liked at home.
I grew up without my father's wisdom, advice, judgment, encouragement or approval.
I missed him. Ironically, it was at my mother's funeral, 40 years later, that I could grieve for him. At the cemetary I was placed in a chair directly over my father's grave and for the first time I read his tombstone. He was a young man when he went, only 53. He was a Lieutenant/Colonel in the U.S. Army. I wanted,with all my heart, to know the guy and wanted him to know me, his son. I wept.
"There is a sacredness in tears" Washington Irving said
As I spoke on with that wise man, I told him about the influences on my life after my father's death. How I had been criticized and minimized and disapproved of by everyone around me. How I had fought to reject other people's opinions of me and how I was trying to establish in my own thinking a positive structure of self-respect and self-approval but that I was having trouble doing it and needed help. Then this wise man, the purveyor of positive advice and well being said to me "Well, fortunately it makes no difference what you think."
How, after listening to my tale of deprivation and woe, could this wise man, this guru of positive thinking, this friend of mankind, this generous and compassionate dispenser of good, sound advice tell me that it makes no difference what I think?
I left his office believing him, and his words sank down into the very bottom of my being. After losing my father and not told why, after the scorn and resentment from members of my family and to be told it doesn't matter what I think, I realized what I was: a useless thumb on the hand of the world, a worthless appendage that needed to be amputated, something taking up space for no reason. As someone once said to me "I don't understand why you're still alive."
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.
In my mid 50s, when I had outlived my father, I began to understand some things. I began to put some pieces together and throw out some others. I may be a worthless and annoying hunk of junk as far as the world is concerned, I thought, but I was still alive, I was working, supporting myself and entertaining people. And if there was only one thing I knew it was that it did matter what I thought. My thinking was just as valid and important to the world as anyone else's. Thinking matters the most. And one who thinks is not a useless appendage, taking up space. That's something my father might have taught me when I was just a boy.
Shakespeare also wrote "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."
Even today, at 70, I miss my father. I miss what we might have meant to each other. I want the love only a father can give. I want the advice of someone who cares about me. I want the companionship of the man I can look up to and admire. I want the words of encouragement and approval from the man who is grateful I was born and is glad I'm alive. I want my Dad.