I used to think that I was an expert at pretty much everything. I especially enjoyed having opinions about topics that I had absolutely no experience in. I still do this, to a lesser extent. Naturally, this extends to my childcare skills as equally as it does my take on global politics, cooking and exercise (or lack thereof). There is an obvious problem with taking such a narrow view of the world and the experience of others. It makes for a rather isolated and lonely existence if I am just dead set on remaining certain that MY way is the right way. What am I trying to accomplish in life if all I want to be is right? Am I not here to have a continually refreshed experience? Can I do that if I’m not open to new ideas and experiences? I used to brazenly declare that only “seeing is believing” while at the same time not truly understanding what perception actually was. I was so concerned with being right and justified in my opinion about everything and I sought validation everywhere. I sought it in Facebook likes and the backslapping of like-minded cynics. I have come to find, lately, that the more open I am to the experience of others the less alone I feel. I used to look at some of Jack’s behaviors and huddle alone in my corner and go “This is NOT normal!” until I started to talk to more and more parents. Friends with kids of all ages, people I’d meet at the park and the like. Once I’d open up to the ideas of others that were grounded in the TRUTH of experience, I found that not only was Jack’s behavior completely run of the mill, but it was actually pretty tame by comparison to other kids his age. I have also been blessed by having my own parenting complimented, which while not necessary is really nice to hear. It’s a comfort that is not sought and I am now capable of providing to myself. My own experience has shown me that I’m a good father. That’s the data.
I stress EXPERIENCE, as I’ve come to find that is really the only truly valuable currency in life. Especially in an age in which the vast amount of information that is readily available has completely changed the nature of what we once considered intelligence. Intelligence is no longer the retention of information, though perhaps it never was. Intelligence is creativity with such information or how to relate that information on a personal level. For example, I could tell you exactly what I think about skydiving and how you’d have to be crazy to even attempt it, but I’ve never been skydiving. My wife, Allison, has. She could tell you all about it based on the experience she has and it would be a much more truthful point of view. Experience, not opinion.
I, like Jack, used to just sit and yell at the birds. I would tell them all how stupid they were. All I ever saw was them stealing my bread, and I was convinced that they didn’t really want to be doing this. They were simply ignorant of a better way, one that I was going to educate them on. I never bothered to look up and see them flying freely in the bright, blue sky. I never bothered to notice that they could do something I could not do because they were not afraid to embrace an idea as seemingly impossible as defying gravity. They enjoyed this freedom because they knew no other way. A freedom I longed for, but never knew how to achieve. A freedom the birds employed out of habit because that is simply what birds do. They fly without worrying about whether or not it pleases another to do so or whether they are right in doing so. They just fly. Turns out all I really had to do was stop judging them, allow the weight of my arrogance, my selfishness, my righteous indignation and my bad attitude to fall away. Once I could do that, I could remain open to new ideas and new experiences. Once I could do THAT, I was well on my way to flying.