- Thoughts for inspired living

October 18, 2007


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:11 am

My father died 5 years ago today. I feel very fortunate to have been with him the day he passed. I never fully appreciated all my dad’s contributions and frustrations until after he was gone. I think that’s the way it is with fathers.

By and large, they provide the cocoon we grow up in and are commonly the primary breadwinner. This has them go away from the nest in a quest to scale that ladder and provide for the rest. It’s a role that we fathers grow into. There isn’t any formal instruction, other than what we learned on the job – through our own parental conditioning.

The best example of lack of fatherly acknowledgement comes from a comedian’s bit that I saw on TV many years ago. He was relating a story about a young boy and his father tossing around the football in the front yard. It was more than playing catch. The father was schooling his son in the finer points of the game. They did this night after night and on weekends. Eventually the son made the elementary school football team and his father remained his personal coach. He played high school football as well and was an outstanding player – and his father remained his coach, his biggest fan and his transportation to and from every practice and every game. The boy goes on to play college football and has a stellar career and dad remains his mentor and stays in constant contact. Finally, he gets drafted by a professional football team and scores a touchdown in his very first game. The TV announcers make a big deal of the event as they always do and his teammates swarm around him with high fives and butt pats. Eventually, he takes a seat on the bench and the TV camera comes in for a close-up and the player looks directly into the camera and says, “Hi, Mom.”

Based on professional and personal experience and training, it’s my observation that most women lead their lives dissatisfied and most men lead their lives frustrated – all due to cultural, parental and social conditioning. Women eventually get to the point and ask, “Is this it? Is this all there is?” There is usually some kind of falling apart at that point. Their cultural patterns of behavior are beginning to come unglued. The good news is that most women, on the other side of this milestone, put their lives back together and figure it out, way before men, that nothing on the outside is going to make much of a difference. It’s what’s on the inside that becomes their compass for the rest of their journey.

Men usually never get to that point until it’s time to die. They are too busy crafting solutions to problems that are unsolvable – thus the constant state of being frustrated. As Alan Watts said in Buddhism – the Religion of No Religion,

“Anyone who lives under the dominance of a double bind is living in a state of chronic frustration. He is devoting his life to solving a problem that is meaningless and nonsensical precisely because it has no solution.”

There is a message in there for men and also for women who want to know their man. The message is we don’t have instant answers – although we will give you one because that’s been our conditioning – to have to know and know right now. We don’t always know but we think we’re supposed to. That’s the double bind that leads to men’s frustration.

I never recognized the mountain that my dad and most men attempt to scale until after he died. The lesson learned for me, and for any man who wants to drop that 40 pound backpack filled with unrealistic expectations, is to just let go. Let go of the social mask we have been conditioned to wear and begin to accept that we cannot solve everyone’s problems and that our instant answers are often empty calories. 

Learn from those who came before you so that you, and those behind you, can sidestep this unsolvable maze.

Thanks, Dad! I finally got it!

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