It’s been nearly 6 months since Dad passed away. I think I’m fortunate that looking back now, I don’t have any regrets with how our time was spent; there’s no part of me that looks back and wishes things were different. Ultimately, everything that passed between us, every interaction and shared moment, defined and shaped our relationship and helped nurture the peace I feel now. In those last few days watching him sleep, hearing him breath, I truly loved him. I am forever grateful that he was half the reason I came to be, despite 20 years protesting it.
I think most of the issue was I only ever looked at Dad through the lens of a son. I only allowed or rather, wanted him, to exist and behave as a father alone. I refused to see him as his own man who had his own dreams, loves, passions or ambitions, instead I tried to frame him around how I perceived he failed. He was a flawed man who I held up to the flame of my ideals yet acted surprised when the image burned to cinders. In the end though, I’m glad I was there and I know he was glad too.
Despite his brain tumour constantly shredding his faculties from him, I look back on our last 10 months and can count more beautiful moments than we’d shared in the last 10 years. What struck me the most was the day I was out walking him in his wheelchair through streets from his youth and we were talking about the years I spent farming. At the time, Dad was always insistent that the life I was leading was beneath me and I ought to move home and go to university or study in some capacity to forge a more financially viable career. I reminded him of how often he used to berate me for sticking it out so long and he was stunned.
Dad said to me “did I really say all those things? I didn’t really say that to you did I?”
“Yeah mate you did, but it’s long gone now so don’t worry about it”.
“I’m sorry I said those things Nicholas, working as a farmer was the best thing that ever happened to you and I’m proud”.
Who would have known that this short exchange absolved 27 years of my angst.
I miss you mate.
Started something new that day
He placed a seed and watched it grow
Didn’t bury it very deep
But lifeblood did flow
It spurted forth green tendrils
Hands that kept climbing
But stretched too thin
The new life began dying
Discouraged he was not
Another seed he sought
Bury it deeper he would
Another life he thought
It too burst from the earth
With more fervor and purpose
It grew a little taller
Before it too, dropped on the surface
A third seed was placed
Deeper than the others
Maybe it would dig its roots deeper
It would be worth all the bother
Tall and strong, it became
But it was twisted and wild
Spreading like weed, corrupting his garden
He cut it down, aborting his child
He buried one final seed,
Too deep for water or light
He wanted to protect it
The earth he packed tight
It might never grow,
May never blossom or flourish
But he had to take time
His soul he had to nourish
I used to be at odds with ambition. I was too idealistic and believed ambition to be a gross expression of masculinity. However, now, I think that my past hang ups with ambition and by extension, asserting myself, was just an elaborate defence mechanism of depressive tendencies. If I didn’t need to actively pursue anything, implement initiatives to better myself, under the false guise of self-preservation, then I was rewarded by staying in the incredibly subtle downward spiral. By remaining unchanged my apathy remained stalwart, keeping my mind and body under its Marshall law.
However, I recognise now that my ambition can cut right through all that self-pity. My ambition to write, my ambition for professional success, my ambition for love, my ambition for strong and honest relationships, my ambition for personal health; they are all on a higher moral ground of self-preservation and they must be pursued. I will no longer shirk ambition and improvement under the false-pretense of eschewing a gender role (ergo excessive masculinity). I will not surrender myself, my being, my thoughts, my future to entrapping ideals that intend for nothing more than perpetuating a cycle and placing myself last.
My ambition is happiness. Solid, tangible and nurtured happiness.
I crawl amongst your limbs
And make myself a bed
Your breath provides a blanket
That stops the thunder in my head
Your exhaled murmurs
Are like sweetness to my ears
But for my heart they’re sickly
That brings on my tears
The idea of you
Made my blood course
But the reality of you
Made all my decisions coarse
I tried everything not to lose you
In doing so I did
So I sit here fearful
That I will forever be the kid
I’m writing this to you from that place just over the horizon. We’re two sides of the same coin, you and I. Together we make a whole. We have our differences though. You’ve got some tarnish and grime whilst I shine brightly. However, I only shine the way I do because of your sacrifice. You take all the shit and I receive the accolades. This makes you the better person than I’ll ever be. We’ll never share the same outlook. You’ll never see the world as I do but I hope someday the world looks at you the same way I do. If it’s any consolation I don’t think I’ll ever feel as alive as you do.
Thanks for not giving up yet Nick. We’re in this together.
I think you walk through life keeping everyone an arm’s length away. You keep your distance, you keep your heart and your insanity all to yourself. I feel privileged that I’ve gotten with a handspan but I fear for your sake because that gap will never be bridged unless you want it to.
I wouldn’t cross it because that’s not my journey. You’re keeping your distance and until you cross, you won’t grow.
The night rolls on
The cool sets in
Stars are hiding
Dreams full of sin
My sin or others
I cannot say
Tomorrow I rise
Stronger to make them pay