Everything that has a beginning has an end.
This young boy is full of hope and joy at the start of a long life. He has purpose but doesn't understand it. His vision barely reaches past playing hockey with friends, learning how to golf and spending all day in the lake. This young boy is on a big adventure with no idea what's coming his way. Love found, love not found, love lost. Trials, triumph and tragedy. This young boy is me.
My father made his last loop around the sun late this summer. Alzheimers stole his life and he starved himself to death as a final act of self-determination. I respect that choice. I didn't really know him that well. I'm not sure he knew either. He was a mysterious force in my life–a man from a fractured home who let the early rifts in his life reverberate through ours. We were not close at the end but our final moment was warm. He could no longer speak, having lost that faculty to a cruel stroke in the spring, but his eyes were clear and soft and he clung to my hand as a final gesture of purpose.
He did his best.
Having grown up without his parents, Christmas was a big deal. He would freeze elk shit in the summer and scatter it on the floor in front of the fire place along with ashes and cinders at some point between us nervously falling asleep and then excitedly waking up Christmas morning. We were mesmerized by the bounty of gifts under the tree, the orange peels and cookie crumbs all over the table and the empty glass of milk we had left for Santa that he had knocked over, clearly in his haste to get down the chimney next door.
My dad bought me my first set of tools when I was six and brought home all sorts of machines for me to take apart and put back together (always with parts left over). I had art projects, creative writing, erector sets and electricity kits. I made up stories and built things: a cartoon series, a book report on a book I had to invent because I was too lazy to read one, pinball machines, a fort with running water and a security system, a radio. I loved figuring out how things work. I still do, but those instincts and skills have evolved into more sophisticated domains.
My parents divorced when I was eleven. He hadn't really learned the skills to keep a relationship together for the long haul. His side hustles leaked their way into what should have been a safe and secure home. Our mother sent him packing as a courageous act of self-determinism. I respect that choice. But I lost something precious in the disintegration of our family. Somewhere between grade six and seven, I made my own act of self-determinism and began the serious work of becoming the man of the family. I made the choice to forsake the fanciful and frivolous, end my childhood and take care of my mother and little brother. I respect that choice. Playtime was over.
One of my mentors in the personal growth industry said to me once that, "the calling spings forth from the wound". It's not surprising to me that a kid from a broken home, sired by a man from a broken home, would find his way into the work of coaching partnerships and teams. You are a member of one. Complex relationship systems provide plenty of very interesting opportunities for integration. The people in them suffer and struggle as they grow. There is plenty of purpose in that.
My dad eventually learned what makes a marriage work for the duration. His last marriage lasted for the last decades of his life. "Figure out what the other person needs and get it for them", was his answer to my question about what he learned from seven marriages.
I am my father's son. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am his legacy.
Everything that has an end has a beginning.
We are working to build interesting and beautiful things together and learning to make money and have fun as we do. Blessings to you and yours as we start another loop around the sun together.
...and if you have a few extra minutes for some inspiration, drop in on Elton and...sail around the bend...