The other day, I discussed with a friend the concept of forgiveness, more specifically, “How do I forgive someone who isn’t sorry?”
Lemme back up.
We all have a backstory, the prologue to our present and future. You have gone through life with some bumps in the road, and perhaps even some major roadblocks. You got bullied. You got abandoned. You were insulted. You were cheated on. You were assaulted. Or worse.
Whatever it is, you are still here. But your heart has scars. You are fighting a battle that no one knows about but you. The more you share, the better off we all will be, especially you.
And the more you forgive people, those scars stop hurting so much.
I know why I want to forgive people. Because I still have those scars. The more I forgive, the less the scars hurt.
With this in mind, I was reminded of Teressa Strasser discussing her deceased step-mother. This woman was, in Teressa’s words, a, “step-monster.” Many of us are children of divorce, which is a scar on the heart that never truly heals, but some of us are lucky enough to have awesome step-parents.
Ms. Strasser was not so lucky. This woman was a terrible human being who pulled a, “Divide and Conquer,” strategy between Teressa’s father and his daughter. It was successful:
I hadn’t seen her since I was 17, the day I vowed I’d never see her again – dead or alive. That was the day she hid a piece of her jewelry, a brooch shaped like a bumblebee, and tracked me down at a crowded Santa Rosa public tennis court to accuse me of stealing it while my brother and father looked on.
And then, many years later, Queen Step-Monster died. “Now what???” Teressa wondered. How do I forgive someone who isn’t sorry, but even if they could apologize, wouldn’t?
“All of the rabbis I spoke with said the same thing. We don’t have to forgive, but for our own good, we should try.”
And, when she asked a Rabbi friend of hers:
“But what about that temptation I feel to do a happy dance instead of mourn? That can’t be appropriate.
“Mourn the relationship that should have been,” said Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom. “Sit down with a glass of wine and ask yourself, how nice would it have been if she had been supportive, protective, fun to be with?”
Where I think Teressa is going here, and her rabbi’s advice is as well, is that forgiving someone is not for the villain in your life, it’s for you. So that you don’t walk around with that pain in your heart. So that you don’t suffer any more by allowing this monster to live in your head, rent free, torturing you every day.
Damn gremlin. But doesn’t this mean that if you forgive someone, they will keep on hurting you?
I ran this past my therapist, who asked me if I had seen the film, “Cinderella.” I had, but it had been a while.
It’s towards the end. Cinderalla is free of her wicked step-mother (how about that?) and her evil step-sisters. She’s got her shoes and she’s got her prince. And the step-sisters show up and apologize. “We’re so sorry for the way we treated you!!! Forgive us!!”
“Okay,” Cinderalla replies, “I forgive you.” She means it.
“Great,” the step-sisters reply, “Now we can be family again!”
Cinderalla shuts the door on them. She knows better. She knows that even if they are actually remorseful, truly toxic people won’t ever change. That’s a cold part of reality that we all must accept. People can be sorry for their sin while they keep sinning. And many folks can’t ever stop. This is where boundaries come in. The line in the sand. This far, no further.
Forgive them but never forget who they are.
So, if you run into the person (1 out of a million) you be the adult. You don’t stick yourself in the mud with them.
In the meantime, you meditate every day for 20 minutes, you learn self-defense, you eat healthy and spread the love.
And most of all, you forgive everyone who has ever crossed you.
With that in mind, I decided to actually do the work instead of skipping through it, as I have done with many other books (not all, of course, like the War of Art). Rick asks the reader to do a thought experiment with ANGER. He notes:
“Acknowledgingyour beliefs and/or habits does not require one to be cautious. Doing so does not mean that you need to change anything. Of course, your gremlin will have you judge your responses. Instead, simply notice and relax.
Here are my results (questions in bold):
1. I imagine that those who know me well would say that when I am angry I yell, boil up with rage. Throw imaginary punches. Say the wrong thing. Say or do something I will regret later.
2. When I’m angry with someone I know well, I tend to either bottle it up, or yell.
3. When I’m angry with someone I don’t know well, I tend to bottle it up.
4. If I suspect someone is angry with me, I feel…it depends. Scared, amused. But most of the time, guilty and I tend to…it depends. If I’m scared, back off, if I’m amused, mock, and the times I’m guilty, try to make amends.
5. A recent time I felt angry at another person was when a drunk idiot hit on my wife, right in front of me, ‘If you weren’t married, I’d try to hook up with you.’
6. At that time, I chose to say nothing. I let it go. I didn’t escalate. “He was drunk,” was my excuse not to break this shithead’s jaw.
7. As I remember that experience now, I notice that I am angry at myself for not standing up for my wife, even though she and another female friend told me that I did the right thing.
8. If I had allowed my anger to be reflected in my voice and my words in a manner that was absolutely uncensored, I imagine that I would have put my finger in his face and threatened to beat the shit out of him. However, that is my monkey brain talking, and I would regret it. Instead, ideally, I would downshift that into the action of getting in between him and my wife and say, gently but firmly, “Alright, buddy, That’s enough.” There was a bouncer nearby (that I was actually friendly with; poor guy spent most of his shift stopping people from having sex in the hot tub(s), and the last thing I would want to do is give him another headache.
9. Then I think I would have felt like I stood up for my wife and myself without going neither alpha nor beta. Gamma. While it is a fact that my wife is an independent woman, can take care of herself and will always tell me if I need to step in, it still infuriated me. Not at the drunk moron, but at myself.
As for 10 and 11, my parents were wonderful people, and aren’t here to defend themselves. They were loving, devoted, and just as human as the rest of us. Hence, to that last point, I’ll leave it be. No parents are perfect, and I am certainly not nor will I be with Jack. They did the best they could, and they were the best I could hope for.
Some say you are either and optimist, or a pessimist. It has much to do with your DNA mix as it does with the long-form equation that is your life experience. Me? I’m about an 80/20 split of optimism to pessimism, but for my chosen NFL football team, the Philadelphia Eagles (or rather, they chose me), until last Sunday, you could flip those numbers.
I was never a football fan until my late father, John Richard Rockwell, brought my brother and I to Veterans Stadium on December 22, 1991 to see my (now) beloved Philadelphia Eagles play the Washington Redskins. At the time, the Eagles would finish the season 10-6, but they were out of playoff contention. We knew that going in.
It didn’t matter. We had the best time in the world. The game was close but the Eagles pulled out a W. I had never had that jock jams song before (The Hey Song). It fired up the whole crowd of Eagles fanatics. And I’ll never forget a certain Defensive Tackle waving his arms up and down, encouraging the crowd to encourage the team to stop the Redskin’s incredible offense. That man was Jerome Brown, #99, and sadly, he was killed in a car accident the following June in his hometown of Brooksville, Florida. This would be the last game of his life.
However, two things happened. I became a fan for life, and I would never forget Jerome.
The following fall, my freshman year of high school, my late mother bought me a Philadelphia Eagles jacket that I still have in my closet to this day. Completely coincidently, she bought me said-jacket on a Monday night, the same night as Monday Night Football, the MNF in which the Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys, our bitter rival. Various classmates gave me a hard time the next day with quotes like, “Oh, you’re just wearing that because they won.” My response, “Yes, I got my Mom to drive me back to mall at 11 o’clock at night, convinced the sporting goods store to open back up so that I could get a jacket. Got it.”
Anyway, those of us citizens of Eagles Nation have always been given a hard time by opposing fans. But that’s not the worst thing. My love of Philadelphia Eagles began right around the time that my pure unadulaterated hatred of not the Dallas Cowboys, not their fans from Texas, but their fair-weather fans from elsewhere who jumped on the bandwagon during the Troy Aikman era. Like this moron in my high school who said, upon seeing my jacket, “EAGLES SUCK.”
“Okay, who is your team?”
Of course, he never step foot in Dallas. At least I’m guessing that’s true.
Fire ahead to 2008. I had given up on my writing career, devolved back into the coward I was growing up. While attending business school, I took a job as a bartender in Westwood, CA at a place called Philly West. There, I grew as a person and began to gain back my confidence. I learned the kind of humility that one can only learn working in the service industry. Everyone should do this at least once in their lives to see what it’s like and get a lesson in empathy you will never forget, especially when you deal with human beings who have turned too many times to alcohol for comfort.
And, did I say I was a fan of the Eagles? While working at Philly West, bartending every single Eagles game for the 2009-2010 season, I got went from a regular fan to a radicalized one. Don’t know why, don’t know how, don’t care. What’s done is done.
My chosen profession of writing and my unchosen fandom both have been called, “A Debt of Honor.” Truth be told, I didn’t chose either one of these; they chose me. It hasn’t been easy, but I had all of this history in mind when I sat down at Philly West last Sunday, February 4th, to face the New England Patriots. I rolled up 2 hours early, a 40-year old grown man in a jersey. Oh wait, which jersey? This one:
When I became radicalized, I bought that in Philadelphia while visiting friends. They didn’t have any McNabb shirts at the store I bought it from, but they did have that one, and instantly, that was the jersey for me. “Bring it Home for Jerome,” the saying goes.
At Philly West on Super Bowl Sunday, I sat down at the bar. They had a reserved spot just for me:
While I scarfed down a delicious chicken cheesesteak and cheese fries, I thought about all of the loss and disappointment. All of the taunts and insults. The insults to the fandom that we have, in some ways, earned (piss off SANTA CLAUS WAS DRUNK!). I thought about our heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl XXXIXto, that’s right, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. 4 more goddamn points and we would have won. A bridge too far. It hurt, still did (not anymore!). I thought about the Andy Reid years with McNabb, how we would come SO CLOSE, but never quite get it done. Oh, the Chip Kelly disaster and Howie getting kicked upstairs. Will we ever get a break? And I thought about my late Dad, who never got to see the Eagles win the big one.
It ain’t easy being an Eagles fan. It’s really not easy being a writer. I thought about all the people, such as myself, who still haven’t “made it,” yet in our chosen profession of our dreams. I wondered about all the people who got so close to success, but gave up. Was that me? Damn right it was. And now I’m 40. I’m done, right? Done. At least I have the Eagles…oh wait.
We had embraced our underdog status all throughout the season (especially when we lost Carson Wentz), but every single member of Eagles Nation was shitting bricks. Please, football gods, let us have this.
They eventually would do just that. By now, you know what happened. A miracle occured in Minneapolis.
Nick Foles brought the city of Philadelphia the Lombardi trophy, and that’s when it hit me; you can accomplish anything. Wait, anything? Not exactly. We’ll get to that.
Back to the miracle. Against all odds, we have a ring with a backup QB who broke his collarbone four years ago, and got traded, benched, and almost retired. He was done. The love of the game was gone. Then he went on a vision quest of sorts with his brother-in-law, spoke with his wife, and prayed to God. Whatever was said on that trip isn’t for us to know. It doesn’t matter. He came back, first to Kansas City under Andy Reid, then returned to Philadelphia as a backup QB to the up-and-coming franchise QB Carson Wentz. In Wentz, we believed (and still do) that we have found our guy in Carson.
In addition to being a wonderful man on and off the field, he brought us win after win, and we were 10-2 when we came to Los Angeles to play the Rams.
Where horror struck us right in the nuts.
My son was born on December 1st, and with a newborn at home, I had an excuse not to go to the Coliseum to see the birds. I was nervous about the Rams (they were good this year) but never thought…wait…WHAT????
Foles came in and finished the game for us, securing a post-season spot. But me, like everyone in Eagles Nation, was…a deer in the headlights of life.
I sat in my backyard and stared at the wall. We’re done, we’re done…please, football gods, please let it just be a sprained ankle or something.
The next morning, all of us waiting for Coach Pederson’s press conference. Then he arrived. Stoic, mature, fearless and without an ounce of bullshit, he came right out with it; torn ACL. Out for a year.
We’re done, we all thought, we’re absolutely done.
When my head hit the pillow that night, I asked myself, why do I care so much? Good question. I’m reminded of a line from 2005’s, “Fever Pitch,” in which a little boy asks Red Sox super-fan Jimmy Fallon, “You love the Red Sox…have they ever loved you back?”
The answer is, of course, no, they haven’t. They can’t. My wife, my son, my dog, my cat, they love me back. But the Eagles? Nope nope nope. Yet we still love our teams? Why? Working on it. Sense of community? Inspiration? Sure, but boy does it hurt to see them lose.
We in Eagles Nation are a pessimestic bunch for a reason. And we thought, that’s it. Done. No one believed in us. Truth be told, neither did we. It just wasn’t in the cards for us to ever get a break. As Hudson said, game over man, game over.
But then this happened, which occured right after the Eagles clinched a playoff spot in Los Angeles:
Doug and Macolm. It’s in our hands. We wanted to take business for ourselves. We’re playing for something bigger now, boys, Dig in dig in for the next few weeks. Carson being out, that sucks, but dig this. We set this up, whoever is in this room, this is who we ride with; We all we got, we all we need. You know what’s in our minds. No excuses.
We were not done.
Because we had a leader in Coach Pederson, a leader in Malcolm Jenkins, and it turns out, we never really knew Nick Foles until the playoffs. We underestimated him. I certainly did. I was wrong.
Philadelphia. The city of my literal birth (45th and Market) and my spiritual birth (University of Pennsylvania Class of 2000). We don’t stand for violence, though it happens. We don’t stand for throwing snowballs or eating horse poop (damn it). Outsiders give us a hard time in that our biggest sports hero is fictional. Of course, they miss the point and don’t get what really matters; our spirit. It is Rocky; WE ARE ALL ROCKY. What do we stand for?
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”
The Eagles, and us fans, eventually embraced our underdog status:
Next Man Up. Persevernace. Grit. Never. Give up.
From friends and fans from other teams (oddly enough, many from the Ft. Worth area) cries of, “One and out,” and, “No chance,” came flooding our way. And when they actually won, the dismissive quips came flooding in. You cheated (shut up). The refs let you have it (prove it). You only won because the refs gave you a break (Hey assholes, we won with a backup QB WHILE missing 6 core players. Suck on that).
About those dismissive comments: they do it because it’s easier for them to right them off. It makes them feel happier in the moment, but not in the long run. They don’t see that because they’re in pain and feel that if they can knock you down, the pain will go away.
They make excuses.
I wasn’t suprised that they would write us off before and after the game, and yet…but yet…the team…reminded me…
Never “listen” to your critics. At least, don’t listen to them in the way they want you to. Don’t listen to them on their terms; convert it to how it helps you on your terms. Your enemies can be your adversaries and only such, or they can also be your teacher. Your choice. The Eagles, with all the setbacks and accidents of the seasons, certainly made the right one, and that is why the 2017 Eagles are one of the best teachers…the good kind…I’ve ever seen.
You can accomplish anything. Within reason, that is; if you are 5’7’’ and want to be 6’10’’, that ain’t happening.
But with most things in life; how many would-be champions, filmmakers, star ball players, astronauts, SEALS, you name it, have we been deprived of because they gave up? Because they couldn’t go the extra mile?
Man alive, I’ve never felt more fired up in my life. I’m 40 years old and I’m not as successful as I want to be. And it’s 100% my fault. I was a coward. Not anymore. The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl Champions. With Nick Foles. As Super Bowl MVP.
Tonight’s podcast is, first and foremost, dedicated to each and every member of #eaglesnation. We did it. We brought it home for Jerome. Our beloved team scratched and clawed their way to victory and in doing so, stunned the sports world in such a way that was instantly legendary.
However, I have done my best today to show not only non-Eagles fans, but non sports fans what we can learn from this amazing team and utilize in all areas of life, such as:
The Grit and Perseverance of Nick Foles and the entire team
I’ve identified my Gremlin (he looks like the Gremlin from that Halloween Simpsons episode, and he uses his cuteness occasionally against me), and will continue to do so in the coming episodes in an effort to help you tame yours.
I also discuss how there are two kinds of people who will give you parenting advice, and how to tell which ones to listen to. Ultimately, how you react is your own choice. The sooner you realize that, the better. And that includes toxic people at the dinner table. Especially them.
NOTE: I’m knee-deep in baby love…and poop…and I couldn’t be happier. I earned the right to get peed on by my 15-day-old son by never settling, rather, I stumbled upon these 5 rules when I stumbled upon the love of my life.
NOTE: Thick into the weeds, things get gender-specific, but the big 5 bullet points are universal. Enjoy! -JER
For the past year or so on the show, I’ve repeated something over, and over…and over…and maybe I should put it in writing.
The Top 5 things to look for in a Long-Term Relationship
The short version is:
5) Physical attraction
4) Things in Common/Values in Common & No Deal Breakers
3) They’re Smart
2) They’re Kind
1) They’re Sane
5) Physical Attraction
As men and women go, this varies a bit; men tend to, “fall in love,” with their eyes, while women tend to do so with their ears. That said, it doesn’t matter that the value of looks follows the law of finishing returns. And it also doesn’t matter that this one goes without saying.
4) Things in Common/Values in Common & No Deal Breakers
Hear me loud and clear:
If you have a deep-seeded belief and your love interest does not, or has the opposite belief, walk away.
There is no getting around this, and many divorces could have been avoided if people followed this rule (as well as the other ones!). Other articles will get into why a desperation-mind set is a recipe for disaster, why you cannot tell if you love someone for at least six months, and many other picadillos that drive me up the wall (because I did them myself back when I didn’t know any better). But for now, this rule is an attempt to quantify the unquantifable, to put words to that special, “thing,” that made you decide not to call that guy back after two decent dates.
Things in Common
Yes, fellas, she has huge boobs, red lips and you visit Valhalla every time you make sweet love down by the fire. But your conversations just..go..nowhere. She talks about her stupid friend Becky and how she can’t stand her. Read this over and over, fellas; you will get bored of sleeping with her. AGAIN. You will get bored having sex with her.
So many dumbass bros are so happy to have a hottie on their arm that they put a ring on it.
Ladies, you aren’t immune to this either. You got the high school quarterback, and…
No amount of monkey business from barely-employed losers at your high school reunion are going to change the fact that you married the wrong person because you thought you knew him, and you didn’t. You will not run out of things to talk about as long as your values stay the same and your relationship has a solid foundation of friendship. If you don’t have both of those, use birth control. Please.
My wife and I love Disneyland, love most of the same television shows (but not all), love Las Vegas, wine country and golf. We love old-timey jazz and get giddy about the new Star Wars movie every year in equal amounts of enthusiasm. We get equal joy out of staying in and cooking and the occasional quiet night out. We adore our dog, love each other’s friends (mostly), and most of all, gain the greatest pleasure holding our newborn son.
Let’s talk age; although my wife is 7 years younger than me, we are both on the same page of life, and that one is crucial too. People who think age is a state off mind as a reason to date someone three times their age in order to exercise the Parental-Abandonment demons are hopelessly misguided, and they miss the point; it’s not so much age, but what age tends to correlate with (but not cause) is station in life. You want the same things at the same time.
If you are a religious Christian, stay off of J-Date. If you are an pro-life activist, you aren’t going to talk a left-wing feminist into seeing things your way over martinis. If you think the Earth is 6,000 years old, stick to someone who shares your sincere beliefs that the Grand Canyon was formed by Noah’s flood.
While we’re at it, if you’re dating online (and if you aren’t, guess what? YOU’RE THE FREAK NOW!) put your values and deal-breakers up front. Don’t swipe right if you hate guns and the dude has a hunting rifle in his hands (though, if his finger is on the trigger, swipe right, message him, “FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER,” then delete him).
You are not James Carville and Mary Matalin, and besides, they are the exception to the rule that proves it (they are both Catholic, they have that in common, plus they love to argue. Do you? Really?). Everyone thinks that they are the exception to the rule. You must operate under the the (correct) notion that you are not special. You will not win the lottery. The house always wins in Vegas; they don’t build those giant (awesome) monstrosities on the strip because they might win. The same principle applies. Reality on realities terms.
My wife and I are both non-religious and share similar and comparable political thought. We follow the golden rule and treat each other as we would want the other to treat us. Her dreams of life and mine are compatible, but they are not always the same; I strive to be a writer, voice-over actor and podcast host; she wants to start a business and someday raise horses. We both want to build a house that we will some day die in. We disagree on some matter of divorce law and culture, but respect each other, agree to disagree where we must, and change the conversation.
3) They’re Smart
Perhaps a better way of putting this is that they share your level of intelligence. I have dated dumb girls, and I have dated high-IQ brainiacs. Neither of them worked. The former meant I had nothing in common with them except for bedroom antics, and the latter? Well, full disclosure; I’m rolling the dice that my wife is smarter than I am. Not only am I okay with that, I love it, as a matter of fact. But fellas, you will not have a long-term happy relationship if she’s a do-do-head. I don’t care if she looks like Angelina Jolie. And ladies, he may look like Brad Pitt, but…stop it you will get bored. Even the two of them got bored with each other eventually. You do not want to breed with a dummy. You won’t be happy, and Mike Judge’s, “Idiocracy,” will happen:
2) They’re Kind
You know what sucks, fellas? Having the woman you married and once loved call you a, “f—king loser,” even though all you wanted to do was spend some time with your best friend Dave who you haven’t seen in over a year because your witch of a wife demands all of your time and either doesn’t give a damn about your feelings, or worse, can’t.
You know what also sucks, ladies? When that silverback gorilla that you couldn’t resist 3 year years ago is beating the ever-loving-crap out of out of you while cheating on you and you just sink further and further into denial and escalation of commitment (I can’t quit now, I have so much invested!).
Ladies, Gentlemen, it’s not men vs women. It’s all of us decent human beings against the abusers, physical and otherwise.
I have dated some truly horrible human beings and all I can tell you is that they make me grateful to be married to the SNGal and even more grateful that I didn’t knock any of them up. Sweet beautiful Jesus, thank God for birth control.
Kindness means that they will stand up for themselves and not take any of your crap when you screw up, but show compassion and love when you are emotionally vulnerable.
They don’t hit you, and for the love of god, their default setting in conflict isn’t to f—king yell at you. There’s no violence, and yelling, if at all, is a rare occurrence. If yelling occurs, there are consequences; you teach people how to treat you and you must always teach people how not to treat you as well.
1) They’re Sane
Finally, the most important quality in a human being that towers above all the others: Sanity.
My wife will march into a room and say, “Jordan, I need praise for all the housework I did today.” She says this calmly and gently. She doesn’t do the following:
Me: “Honey, what’s wrong?”
Her: (turns away), “Nothing.”
Ladies we f—king hate that.
John Mulaney agrees re: dating jewish women, for example. This goyem here agrees, and thinks our jewish sisters are on to something that the rest of us should take on!
Oh my god you have no idea of the happy daze I walked in after I realized that the SNGal (a shiksa, but no matter)was the most sane individual I had ever had the pleasure of dating. Ladies, your relationship stock will SKY-ROCKET in your late 20’s (right when you should be thinking about long-term prospects anyway, how about that?) and attract the right man for you who will appreciate it.
If you are NOT sane…I can’t help you. But if you are sane, and you are reading this, oh my lord, if you knowingly marry a crazy person, I will personally come to your house and throw you into a volcano. I’ll be doing you a favor. It’ll be less painful and heaven awaits.
They don’t go through your phone assuming that you cheated on them because their last 3 boyfriends cheated on them and therefor you will too. They trust you. They know that if you cheat on them, that’s not a reflection of them.
They don’t isolate you from your friends and family.
Everything is not, “a fight,” if there is disagreement.
If you want to go home instead of stay at their apartment, they don’t threaten to kill you or boil your bunny.
They don’t actually try to kill you.
Yeah, that last one is pretty important.
So, to sum up, never settle for anyone who isn’t attractive, doesn’t share crucial values, isn’t smart, nice, and sane. You must have all five, especially the last part.
And this is all about them. What about YOU?
We’ll get to that.
ONE LAST THING:
I use my marriage as an example because, for no other reason, so far, so good. Married for 4, together for 7 and change, we both understand that there is no resting on laurels in a relationship. Beyond the amount of time that has passed since November 18, 2010, I have no idea what I’m talking about. I do not mean to suggest otherwise.
Every day is a choice to make. Every moment is one to improve upon the last. As we go forward every day, I don’t win, she doesn’t win, the marriage wins.
On Sunday, my beloved Philadelphia Eagles lost their quarterback for the season when Carson Wentz tore his ACL. Good news; we’re not done by any stretch, and I have some more thoughts for my son about perseverance in the face of adversity. Enjoy!
This is the first in what I hope will be several attempts of mine to blog more often, maybe even build a platform for my writing partner Ashley Collins and I; we landed an agent for our book recently, but much more work need to be done! One step at a time. Once a week is better than no times a week, isn’t it? Also, perfect being the enemy of good, no more procrastinating.
You’ve heard this before; don’t be THAT guy. What does it mean to be THAT guy?
Generally speaking, it’s someone who upsets our social order. Depending on where you are from, this could mean different things to different cultures. For example, dropping a C-bomb in America is a very different thing from dropping one in England.
But here across the pond?
That guy who is the loudest moron at Thanksgiving dinner who won’t shut the f—k up about politics (Type-A personalities, this is you). That guy who texts during a movie. That guy who pisses on the toilet seat. And so on.
Today’s post, however, and in most other, “DBTG,” posts, I’m going to ask you to not be this guy because I’ve been this guy. When you turn 40 (at least when I did), you start looking back. It’s the half way point. You look back not to wish you could go back and change things (waste of time and energy), but to learn from your mistakes, and I made a lot.
In fact, the day before my son was born, I made a mistake for the final time…I hope.
I was THAT guy who when someone tells me that they like something, I have to open my big fat mouth and explain why it sucks, thus taking away their pleasure. The Joy Killer. That was me. It’s rude, it’s narcissistic, and it’s wrong.
Example: Last Christmas, my wife and my sister-in-law are in the living room watching, that’s right, “Love, Actually.”
“UGG!” I moan as I shuffle into the room, “This again? You know this movie has nothing to do with actual love, right?”
Both ladies said something along the lines of, “Piss off, Jordan,” and went back to watching Bill Nighy and his manager get drunk and watch porn. I walked away with my tail between my legs. The fact that this article exists doesn’t matter. I had no right to do that.
But, that wasn’t enough to convince me that I was wrong. The birth of my son did the trick.
Thursday morning, November 30th, my wife is in (what we thought was going to be) the delivery room experiencing the early stages of labor. Our wonderful Doula Yana by my wife’s side, my baby-mama was actually enjoying herself (the major contractions hadn’t started yet). Yana puts on the song, “Beautiful Boy, Darling Boy,” by John Lennon.
I hear this, and believe or not, kept my big fat trap shut at first. I know, hard to believe.
Julie and Yana are both hold black belts in empathy for the men in their lives, and both inquired of my discomfort.
“John Lennon abandoned his son, Julian.”
I have an allergic reaction to parents who abandon their children, and to step-parents who divide and conquer. My late father, after he and my mother split up, never stopped letting my brother and I know that we were number 1. Our parents are gone but our step-parents remain in our lives in a close and loving way. I have examples to follow. Other people aren’t so lucky.
No, Yoko Ono did not break up the Beatles (they broke themselves up just fine) but she did drive a wedge between John and his relatives, or at least it’s alleged.
Irrelevant. I just couldn’t let them enjoy the moment because FEELINGS.
However, with the guidance of both my wife and doula, I was to finally poke a hole in one of my demons. John Lennon was a very complicated man with a beautiful but tortured soul who apparently never knew his father. He was in a lot of pain. Through that different lens, I saw him in a different light. And then?
Three days later, after our son was born, my wife and I played, “Beautiful Boy,” with our son and we both burst into tears.
We’ve played it every day at least three times since. As I typed this, I just had a little dance with Jack singing the words to him; I have the lyrics almost memorized. It’s one of the most lovely songs I’ve ever heard, and it’s a perfect representation of how my wife and I feel about our little boy.
I am grateful for Julie and Yana who set me straight and helped me wake up a little bit. You are entitled to your feelings. You are not, however, morally entitled to express them in any way you see fit. Other people matter. It is your obligation to consider their feelings. Not be ruled by them, of course, but at least consider them. When it comes to enjoying art, I don’t care if it’s the Pussycat Dolls, let people have their pleasures. Keep your negativity to yourself.
Hemingway defined courage as grace under pressure. When you look back at all of your historical heroes, did they complain and make it all about them? No, they had problems and they worked to either accept them, or solve them. Like adults. If they can do that, then you can put up with a silly British rom-com that actually has some charm in spite of its flaws, let alone a sublime song about a father’s love for his son.
Please, don’t be that guy. I will never be that guy again. Until then, Enjoy this wonderful song that gives, “Imagine,” a run for it’s money in terms of sheer musical bliss.