I wake up each morning with a start. Each day like the last, and all the preceding days roughly since the mid eighties, I have been nudged into consciousness with the same digital ring. The clock, a gift for my first day of 6th grade, has woken me up for almost every single important event of my life. Birthdays, job interviews, weddings, funerals…it’s provided me the audible slap in the head I need to open my eyes and put my feet on the floor. The inspiration I need to make that first step to ‘pushing’ yet again on another day.
But it’s more than that. It’s an audible symbol of the need to push like he did. Copying his ethic and his pattern of never-stop-fighting until the family is secure and you can find peace.
And therein lies the contention.
The drink is a powerful elixir. And when ingested by a single person, it must be understood that its intoxicating effects are felt by many. It ripples far, wide and deep. And so it was for us in our house. Irish. Happy. Loving. Guilty. We could all see as children the tight bond of marriage our parents had…and had for 50 years…yet the sadness for what the drink can do. And so, all of us as the offspring witnessing this, were re-programmed to push very early on. And to push. And push. And please others. And sacrifice. And push ever more.
Each day the alarm rings and I get on it. I reignite my fires. I re-ratchet up my discipline. I sit in my chair. I focus. I work. I push. Or if I find time to ride then I focus and I ride and I suffer. And when my boys are home from school I push to be present for them and truly be there. I spray myself across all the aspects of my life…in a desperate flail to ensure he is pleased and proud. To ensure I am fundamentally awake and alive and doing the things he couldn’t do.
But the peace or satisfaction never comes.
The truth of the matter is I’m already blessed. I do please. I am present. And it’s taken me 40 years and the absolute gift of my wife to make me realize and recognize this. To be shown by her that I can and SHOULD swivel around and look at my past. To reflect and to feel not just OK with my life but giddy and proud. Proud over my successes. Satisfied with my achievements. Cognizant of all of my gifts.
And two aspects in particular: That he is proud. And that it didn’t get me like it got him. And I must be made to embrace this and move on.
Each day the alarm rings. I think as of late that its digital sound is starting to degrade. Finally its speaker is losing its fidelity and ability to beacon-out that it’s time to arise. Time to push. I think its time to get a new alarm clock and let its tone remind me to look forward for the next 40 years.