FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Whispers and a stream.

by Dave Markwell

A couple of weeks ago, my thirteen year old daughter said with a smile, “I’m just not very good at things.” This was a pretty blanket statement preceded by her sucking at something. I was both concerned and relieved at her admission. I was concerned because I’m her dad and care about her delicate self-esteem and want her to feel she can do anything. I was relieved because she was smiling and I sensed that this idea didn’t bother her tremendously. My relief was the result of understanding that we all suck at some stuff and don’t suck at other stuff and, it seemed, like maybe she “got” this and was ok with it.

In my perpetual quest to keep her little, I often don’t see that she’s not. She has wisdom beyond her years and my efforts to ignore her growing up only serve to diminish her trust in me and make me sound like an ass. I see this and know this, but, using the wisdom I do possess, understand that this may simply be an area that I kind of suck at: letting her grow up. It’s happening in spite of how I feel about it, though I make no apologies. As her dad and protector, I want her safe from the unkind feelings the world can present. This is an instinct that likely existed before man walked upright, and one over which logic holds no sway. Dads are often dumb in the ways we care for our children.

My daughter accuses me of being deaf. And I might be (though she DOES mumble when she talks to me) but, as my number of trips around the sun climbs, I believe that my hearing has improved. I now hear a bird, or a raindrop, or a breath, and I know these sounds. I hear the whisper of a heartbeat, and know it to be true. The whispers are the truth. They are harder to hear, but loud when we train our ears on them. They are the divine voices of our souls and they don’t tell lies. They are a hum, or a soft tap, and speak through our choices and chances and the people we meet. We always know the right ones when we listen to the whispers.

My profound wish is that my daughter listens to her whispers and follows the path they lead. I believe that we each, in the vast ocean of our shared space, possess our own separate, but connected, little current which is ours alone and in this little stream we are free to be what we are. We spend much of life trying to slip into this stream. It can be elusive and other currents are strong, but when we find it, we know it. And life truly begins.

Now, I make no claims regarding having unraveled a great mystery. My stream eludes me plenty and the list of things I suck at is much longer than the list of things I don’t. But, I do believe that, though the journey can be perilous, the search for our stream is why we’re here and only when we achieve the calm certainty of our waters can we be what we’re meant to be. Liberated from the tugs and shoves of other currents, we are free and alive and our best. And this knowledge makes the search worthwhile.

So, while I carry the heavy bags of my flawed humanity to my dad duties, I also trust that my stream is connected to my children’s and that for all the struggle and strife, moments of intersection will occur and my heady dreams will become real. Here, we will truly know each other and appreciate our shared journey, and they can stop looking at me like I’m the world’s stupidest person. This will be a grand day…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). He also runs the Waterland Arcade, located at 22306 Marine View Drive South. Dave extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, Dave needs more friends – find him on Facebook here.

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