Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How far could you swim? As far as was needed.

I reread a poem by William Stafford titled "With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach." The meaning of the poem sent me reeling, while the last two lines kept me steadfast in my resolve.

"As far as was needed," I said,

and as I talked, I swam.

Last summer, in the heart of our pregnancy with Bea, I did a lot of soul searching about what it means to be a responsible man and father. Many years before I used to give up too easily and take the familiar path of self-fulfilling failure.

Mindful learning and maturity paid off and yearn to be a better husband and father each day. I will go "as far as was needed" for my family. I think more fathers do these days (I hope).

But of late another caretaking situation looms ahead on my mid-life horizon: my parents. I'm starting to understand the accelerated life cycle – having children later and taking care of parents sooner than. They're still mobile and independent, but as time slips away from the moment like water from melting ice, so will their health continue to slip away as it has for the last two decades.

And then last night I talked with an old friend who I hadn't spoken with for some time who is dying, and that knocked the wind out of me.

I thrashed in the cold water over all these things last night; I'm only back to dog paddling this morning.

So I reread the poem again…


With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach


We would climb the highest dune

from there to gave and come down:

the ocean was performing;

we contributed to our climb.


Waves leapfrogged and came

straight out of the storm.

What should our gaze mean?

Kit waited for me to decide.


Standing on such a hill,

what would you tell your child?

That was an absolute vista.

Those waves raced far, and cold.


"How far could you swim, Daddy,

in such a storm?"

"As far as was needed," I said,

and as I talked, I swam.

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