Archive for July, 2015

Death of a son

July 23, 2015
Some things in life are very important

Some things in life are very important

Nick Cave’s son Arthur took smiling photo metres from cliff where he died’.

I read that headline and heard on the news that a 15-year-old boy had fallen to his death from a cliff. No foul play, no suicide, just a childish misadventure that cost a young man his life. It didn’t matter that his parents were famous. It didn’t matter why it happened. It just happened.

As a father of a boy not much older than Arthur, hearing the news made my blood run cold. I imagined if it had been my son. I want to protect him and nurture him and if he died like this I’d want to go with him. Otherwise, every day would be white pain; complete, unrelenting, devastating pain.

But as children grow we must let them go, release the parental embrace and allow them to take their own steps in the world. We watch as they leave us and disappear into the night. And we wonder. And we worry.

Accidents, king hits by unprovoked strangers, spiked drinks, idiots in cars, drunks looking for a fight – all out there on a possible collision course with a person that I value in this world more than myself.

From the day your child is born these possibilities are a permanent spectre, lying in wait for happenstance. We have a rule in our family that no one can die before me. Selfish I know, but I value their lives ahead of mine and couldn’t bear an existence without them.

I can’t imagine how Rosie Batty gets through a single day. There can be no peace. She has found a greater good to make sense of losing her son. She is a most worthy Australian of the Year.

I want to keep my kids safe. I advise them as best I can about being sensible, when at their age I wasn’t. I want them to be happy. Most of all they know they’re loved and I enjoy every moment I have with each of them. No one knows what tomorrow brings but we can influence our actions today.

The Power of Personal Perceptions…

July 14, 2015
Do you care what others think about you?

Do you care what others think about you?

Last weekend we caught up with friends and were discussing their daughter’s wedding, held the month before. It was a very pleasant event with an enjoyable reception and nice meal. They told us how I had inadvertently caused a last-minute panic on the seating arrangements, which they confessed was very strange.

A friend of theirs, whom I’d met infrequently over the years, expressed a vehement dislike for me and didn’t want to be seated anywhere near me. He also expressed the same sentiment to someone else at the wedding (who later shared that with me in amazement).

I was bemused by this. I’d rarely spoken to this man and never perceived I’d been in a position to create this level of distain. There’s the rub. For years he’d professed to be the best at everything; he had the fastest car, was the best sportsman, and owned an established business. He surrounded himself with sycophants who worshipped his every move.

I don’t buy into that game, and I guess that must have annoyed him. He wanted to make life a competition and I didn’t feel the need to respond. I prefer to take people on face value: who they are, rather than what they have.

Recently he’d been caught cheating on his wife, his business faltered and he had to sell the fast car. That doesn’t change who he is, but it certainly changed his outlook. He now saw me as ‘winning’ in his game, by his rules. So he found reasons to belittle me to others. He failed to notice (again) that I wasn’t playing. I feel sorry for him; he has some challenges to face.  He’s created benchmarks that define who he is and now, at fifty, they can’t be maintained. Clearly he is unhappy.

As for me, as much as I say I don’t care what others think about me, I don’t think anyone likes to be disliked. But I can’t change this guy’s opinion. And I don’t need to try. I just won’t focus on it.

In a timely post, Seth Godin this week said ‘We can choose to define ourselves (our smarts, our brand, our character) on who rejects us. Or we can choose to focus on those that care enough to think we matter. Carrying around a list of everyone who thinks you’re not good enough is exhausting’.