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Jeff Musings
The Joy of the Monkey Cup


Jeff's Musings about the Meaning of Dash...

... and other long-windedness

 

All I have right now is:

Great Expectations....

9/18/06

There are expectations upon us and from us and we like to test the limits, the accuracy, of our prejudgments.

The first test of my expectations of Dash was thirty seconds or so after he had been plucked out of Leigh as I watched from two feet away the nurses cleaning him up. I didn't feel a loud explicit CONNECTION with Dash that I new intellectually he was the only person Id ever met genetically related to me. I dont think I was disappointed as this was a turning point in my life nonetheless and I felt he was a handsome ex-fetus and would do just fine.

I still dont know if I feel a genetic connection; I certainly dont feel a need for it as he is my sunshine.

After some time I began to wonder if I loved Dash enough to be willing to do that Parental Ideal: to be willing to give ones life for ones child. I wasnt.

Here's the pause: it is so very hard to give up ones self. It really literally kills me know that my time on this planet is finite. My career has been largely that of saving time (process engineering) I suspect on the (naïve, but there) belief that all the time I save myself and other people will be stored in an account that I can use when I am supposed to die. "Okay, Jeff, youre housekeeping has finally killed you. …but since you saved 2000 man-hours for people in your career, you have that to use until I come to take you away. Go!" I dont know if Ill ever be ready to go. There is so much to do, and I have done so little Good. The frustrating thing now, is I know what I should be doing in life (maximizing my talents to make the world a better place). Makes the remaining time that much more critical.

Anyway, so giving up my life is an extremely hard thing to do. Now ultimately I expect to get to that point with my kids. Here's where the ego comes in. Even you think the only thing you can leave behind is attitude, then you want your kids to adopt the attitudes you value the most (though, often, dont necessarily practice). There is an aspect of love that is a selfish thing where you love the things about the kid that reflect the best part of yourself; in effect you're loving them because you are loving yourself.

So for a long time, if, having to choose giving my life for Dash's, I would have said no. After 40 years are trying really hard to figure out what is important and meaningful and fair (okay, I only started thinking about these things when I was five (really, but that's another story)) I think I have figured it out, but I haven't written it down yet and I haven't coerced Dash's mind to understand them, so if I were to go away now, then my life would have been mostly a waste, and nothing make that okay.

When we were up in Traverse City visiting Grandma and Grandpa Stokes, it occurred to me (in the shower, oddly, which is where it occurred to me that I COULD be an astronaut, it wasnt just a daydream and I should go to the Air Force Academy to become an astronaut) that if I had to make the choice that I would choose for Dash to live, even though the valuable portion of my life is only now beginning (as a father and as someone who finally knows what is important and meaningful and fair). And so much of the fun and the hope (and the worry) of being a parent is imagining WHO YOUR CHILD WILL BECOME. You hope that he become your best qualities plus more (again theres a selfishness there: his feats become your own). Id certainly want to share what 35 years of hard searching has shown me, and dont think Dash is quite yet my cybernetic clone-and-upgrade yet (nor may he ever be) but hes a great kid, with a good attitude, who smiles so much and is so serious and so kind (in his toddler ability to be) and so gentle (though not with his hands or the cat or hair). Hes plenty good enough and I love him enough and theres no way Id ever be able to live with myself if I ever were to hesitate on that decision. At some point you dont care about hell be in twenty years, you just want to give him a tomorrow. Take me, spare Dash; hes so worth my life.

..

 

In the meantime, I better get writing. There may not be broad value in what Ive learned but I think it can resonate strongly with some...

 
 

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