Posts Tagged ‘son


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Must Read: Immense Wisdom from Andrew WK at Village Voice

Please read every sentence of this piece from the Village Voice. The piece hugely resonates as we are being divided and pitted against each other. I have not read anything so right on in ages that digs to the core of our mind, heart, even soul. Principles over power & politics. 

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Hi Andrew,

I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all. I don’t have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there’s still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?

Thanks for your help,
Son of A Right-Winger
Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Dear Son of A Right-Winger,

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.

When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving as full human beings. When we truly believe that some people are monsters, that they fundamentally are less human than we are, and that they deserve to have less than we do, we ourselves become the monsters. When we allow our emotions to be hypnotized by the excitement of petty bickering about seemingly important topics, we drift further and further away from the fragile and crucial human bond holding everything together. When we anticipate with ferocious glee the next chance we have to prove someone “wrong” and ourselves “right,” all the while disregarding the vast complexity of almost every subject — not to mention the universe as a whole — we are reducing the beauty and magic of life to a “side” or a “type,” or worst of all, an “answer.” This is the power of politics at it’s most sinister.

At its best, politics is able to organize extremely complex world views into manageable and communicable systems so they can be grappled with and studied abstractly. But even the most noble efforts to organize the world are essentially futile. The best we can usually achieve is a crude and messy map of life from one particular vantage point, featuring a few grids, bullet points, and sketches of its various aspects and landmarks. Anything as infinitely complex as life, reality, and the human experience can never be summed up or organized in a definitive system, especially one based on “left or right,” “A or B,” “us or them.” This is the fatal flaw of binary thinking in general. However, this flaw isn’t just ignored, it’s also embraced, amplified, and deliberately used as a weapon on the very people who think it’s benefiting their way of thinking.

Human beings crave order and simplicity. We cling to the hope that some day, if we really refine our world view and beliefs, we can actually find the fully correct way to think — the absolute truth and final side to stand on. People and systems craving power take advantage of this desire and pit us against each other using a “this or that” mentality. The point is to create unrest, disagreement, resentment, and anger — a population constantly at war with itself, each side deeply believing that the other is not just wrong, but also a sincere threat to their very way of life and survival. This creates constant anxiety and distraction — the perfect conditions for oppression. The goal of this sort of politics is to keep people held down and mesmerized by a persistent parade of seemingly life-or-death debates, each one worth all of our emotional energy and primal passion.

But the truth is, the world has always been and always will be on the brink of destruction. And what keeps it from actually imploding is our love for life and our deep-seeded desire not to die. Our love for our own life is inextricably connected to our love of all life and the miracle of this phenomenon we call “the world.” We must give all of ourselves credit every day for keeping things going. It’s an incredible achievement to exist at all.

So we must protect and respect each other, no matter how hard it feels. No matter how wrong someone else may seem to us, they are still human. No matter how bad someone may appear, they are truly no worse than us. Our beliefs and behavior don’t make us fundamentally better than others, no matter how satisfying it is to believe otherwise. We must be tireless in our efforts to see things from the point of view we most disagree with. We must make endless efforts to try and understand the people we least relate to. And we must at all times force ourselves to love the people we dislike the most. Not because it’s nice or because they deserve it, but because our own sanity and survival depends on it. And if we do find ourselves pushed into a corner where we must kill others in order to survive, we must fully accept that we are killing people just as fully human as ourselves, and not some evil abstract creatures.

Love your dad because he’s your father, because he made you, because he thinks for himself, and most of all because he is a person. Have the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as you’re so quick to doubt his beliefs. Live with a truly open mind — the kind of open mind that even questions the idea of an open mind. Don’t feel the need to always pick a side. And if you do pick a side, pick the side of love. It remains our only real hope for survival and has more power to save us than any other belief we could ever cling to.

Your friend,
Andrew W.K.


Our Father who……………….


“Listen, there is no way any true man is going to let children live around him in his home and not discipline and teach, fight and mold them until they know all he knows. His goal is to make them better than he is. Being their friend is a distant second to this.”  Victor Devlin

As I get ever older, the images fade of my Father. There were few photos taken of him. I have only the fleeting views in my memories of him camping, building something, working in the yard, taking his last breath in the hospital. 

He was and is unique to me: warrior, dependable, troubled, seeking, settling, private…an unknown quantity beyond the handful of images that flit through my ever porous mind’s eye.

Sometimes the deeds and offered words fill the canvas. Sometimes, as in my case, I wasn’t watching to notice the canvas was incomplete and the passion to complete had been sidetracked for some unknown reason. Truly who was he?



A Father’s Confessions (flyfishing partners….or not?)

Patience, enormous patience. No exceptions. Intellectually you know this. Cause and affect. I have three sons. Wonderful young men. But, at times I have done my best to undermine their self-esteem and trust. The only explanation, that is the bedrock of a poor explanation, is that I was self absorbed and consequently too selfish to truly focus on the little person beside me. Yes, I expended just enough energy to set them up with a rig, but of course as happens, they ran afoul of snags, line twist, loops, tangles and branches. My response was impatience to what should have been the clearly inevitable result of turning ones back on a little guy. In time, they improved but there was an edge to them. What edge? A nervous edge. An edge from fear of disappointing me or worse angering me. Did I hit them? No. But, you don’t have to. A look, a tone, body language, spoken words do the deed. Several embarrassing events took place over time that I am truly ashamed to recount. Too embarrassing and paint me for what I was: selfish. These lessons in cause and affect spill over into their future life….don’t ever doubt it. 

Thank God…no dancing around it…thank God I woke up. I love my sons and have reflected upon how easily we can influence them for better or worse. I write this to tweak someone, anyone, who is so self absorbed or possibly self aware enough to know they have done harm…fix it! It won’t happen right away. But, it can happen and a few, ‘I love you’s’ and hugs will go a long way to repair the strains and set you upon a good course. The progression I used aside from showing patience and love was as follows: shore side folding chairs, treats, small rods and reels, power bait, casting for them and letting them reel in the catch, making it all about them, keeping it relaxed, pictures of them. Then later, teaching them to cast spinning reels and casting bubbles with a short leader and fly. Slowly reeling and hooking fish. Developing confidence in a fly (Renegade, Elk Hair Caddis, Adams). This took 3-4 years. When I fished, I fished alone. I spent time with them and then only focused upon them. Only several years later did I place a fly rod in their hands and by now I was much more patient. All my sons are excellent flyfishers. I don’t take credit for some great success. I only constantly reflect upon how easily we affect our children. With all the other negative influences out there that wage war on your child’s development, don’t be anything but a positive bulwark against those negative influences.

Fathter and son. Fishing partner and friend. It is there for a brief time. Maybe longer if lucky. Reflect upon how special it is. Of course, this equally applies to our little girls…our daughters too. But most prominently our sons are our canvas. How will your son treat his son, daughter, girlfriend or wife? Patience, enormous patience.       


Road Trips & Meaningful Conversations

I just finished a weekend jaunt over to Central Oregon with my son. The fishing was slow, but as I earlier mentioned this can be an opportune time to meet interesting people, who expand your flyfishing knowledge or just provide you pleasure with idle conversations. But when you are in the car with your son for nine plus hours coming and going, you have a ready barometer of where your relationship is and where your son is headed at this point in his life.  The time in the rig provided time to discuss his appreciation for the females in his life, the oddities of female thought patterns, the uniqueness of the female form….well you get the drift of his thoughts. Of course, that was not the total extent of our conversations. I listened most of the time to his career ideas and where he wants to be. I was pleased with his energy for life and his positive vibes. Fortunately, I was not in the throes of negativity or offering up too many ‘yeah, buts..’ I was so excited by the prospects of the destination that I positively flowed with good thoughts and patience (either I need to go on more road trips or harness the positive thougths for daily life….hmmm).

The beauty of this encounter with your son, is that you quickly know if you have helped in a positive way with your son’s development or done harm. I can’t take too much credit but I see my fingerprints there, and it isn’t too bad so far. Once at the final destination, I thoroughly enjoyed watching my fishing buddy interact with the nice folks we encountered. He was genuine and quite capable of initiating his own relationships and enjoying conversations about flyfishing, etc. In fact he is quite the gabby conversationalist. On the lake, he was at ease initiating contact with passing vessels. He has the ability to seek information and more often to share his intell. The long and short of it was he was self contained and functioning on his own. His own man. Not dependent upon me or hanging back but rather self sufficient and capable of doing his own thing. The tether has been cut.

  Our stay at East Lake was enjoyable because of our interactions with nice people (I would admittedly have liked more interaction with nice fish too). On the way home one can be introspective and tired. We drove home talkative and  pleased with our time together, our experiences, partial successes and just the beauty we observed. Winding home, listening to the Eagles and that great guitar riff in Hotel California, energized by the sunshine and energy drinks…the verdict was in: we can talk about most anything and I like watching my son growing up.     

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July 2020

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