Jeff's Musings about the Meaning of Dash...
... and other long-windedness
All I have right now is:
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
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...