Mastering the Art of Simplicity
My oldest daughter just turned 13 this week, which means my life, as I have known it, has now changed forever. She is no longer Daddy’s little girl and I am completely outmatched.
The tide started to change at about age 11 1/2. I didn’t notice at first. I think a father’s brain (when focused on his daughter ) is always slow to adapt. Up until this point I had been her Superman and I felt it. I am not ashamed to admit that it is a feeling I will miss for the rest of my life.
The changes were slow at first, built up speed, and now I just can’t keep up. We no longer speak the same language. She is much more concerned with her friends, and truth be told, she does not care to spend much time with me. I selfishly long for the days when she was 5 or 6 years old.
I do not blame her for any of these feelings. She is becoming a wonderful young lady, with a stutter step here and there, but doing the best she can.
I am the one who cannot keep up – Do I get any points for at least knowing that?
I want my daughter to grow and experience life, to have an opinion and stand up for her beliefs. I just don’t want that to have anything to do with me. At the same time, I want her to be 5 forever. It feels like a classic tale that I am an unwitting participant in and have absolutely no control over.
Now, I realize that this is a common tale and that the role of Dad is now being played by me but has been shared by all fathers who have come before me. To those who made it out alive, I salute you.
Learning the Power of Simplicity
This is not an article on the dynamics of fathers and daughters. This is about learning to be simple. My daughter just taught me that this week.
Just a few days ago, her boyfriend broke up with her. Now, let’s set aside the fact that her even having a boyfriend is taking years off my life. My job here was to be compassionate. To let her know she should still come to me and we can get through anything together. I have no idea if any of this message gets through, but I try.
She was upset, she cried. Then she taught me a huge lesson on thinking simply. She held my hand, looked into my eyes and said: “Dad, I just want someone who will hold my hand and listen to TwentyOne Pilots with me”
I have not stopped thinking about what she said since. For the last year I have been thinking of my daughter as a complicated puzzle, one for which I had no instructions. The truth is that she is not nearly as complicated as I thought, At least in this one area, she is thinking simply.
We often speak about motivation but I am starting to wonder if we overcomplicate it. Could we not be more simple?
What is important to you? Take that image and hit it with a tiny mental hammer. Not hard enough to break it, but perhaps hard enough to knock the dust and dirt off. Let’s focus on the core and not the surroundings.
I want you to have a grand goal. I want you to believe that you can achieve anything. But why don’t we get to the core of your dream? What is it that you really want? What is your simple truth?
When I write, I often write about myself. I do this because I know the subject so well and because I hope I can convince you of this: all the crazy emotions, weird thoughts, and irrational fears that you may have, we all have them.
Is there a handbook on how to get through life? Sure, hundreds. There are religions, societal beliefs, manifestos, and the like. If these help you then I am all in favor. One thing most have in common is to slow down. Become more simple in your thoughts.
We often get in the way of our own happiness by over-complicating the situation. Both the teachings of the west and the east share this idea:
So this is where we are. I as a crazy, heartsick father, lost in the woods of my daughter’s life, will learn from her. I will slow down and get simple. I am not meant to understand her right now, so I will let that go and love her just the same. I will be slow to speak and slow to anger, because the opposite does no one any good. This is what my teenage daughter taught me about simplicity.
She just wants some one to hold hands with. I just want to know my daughter. What is the simple truth of what you want?
Featured photo credit: Alexis Brown via uplash.com