Wednesday, April 6, 2011

For My Son, Someday, If He Reads This

Last year, sometime before Christmas I think it was, after an especially bad argument with your mother I was sitting alone at the dinner table listening to the radio and staring despondently into my coffee. You sat down, and looked at me, and in all seriousness said “I don’t want to be like you when I grow up. I don’t want my life to turn out like yours.” And then you went away.

I answered with silence, which is the way I almost always respond when people hurt me with words. And why? Because I don’t want to fight. Don’t want to compound the problem. Want to let things settle back into the normal grooves. That’s how I’ve gotten this far living with difficult people.

But if I had answered you back, I would have said you’re right. I don’t want you to turn out like me either, not in a million years. But you won’t, you’re safe from that anyway. Your life will turn out like your life, not mine. You’ll make mistakes, maybe some colossal misjudgments like your old man that will haunt you all your life, but they’ll be along different lines. Maybe by the time you read this you’ll have made a few already.

I came into this world with great energy and potential. You should know that much at least. I was born with the soul of a great lover, a natural mystic and a story teller. I’ve ended up as a frightened civil servant who never makes enough money to go around. Don't let this happen to you.

I think people who come into this world quietly and with low expectations do better in the long run. They don’t expect as much of themselves. Their potential for disappointment is duller. I longed to experience a great and passionate love with another person. I could have been that man. I lusted for knowledge, insatiably devouring every book that caught my attention. I wanted to go to college and study the language arts and make my mark in the world as a writer, maybe a poet too. Most of all, utmost of all, I wanted to find God. This last was my undoing, worshipping with devotion a false God, an all devouring illusion. Now at the end of middle age, I have never fallen in love, I can only imagine the experience, never been to college for more than a few months and no son, I don’t want you to grow up like me either, if you’re reading this someday.

You may ask at this point, Dad, what is a Man?

A man is responsible for those who love him. As much as possible, he is responsible for their well being. Not their happiness. You’ll find, as I have, you can’t make another person happy. You can only make it possible for them to be happy. You can’t make them grateful either, not if it isn’t in them. If you have a wife and a child someday, and in this age of crazy pussy, there is so much less of any reason for a man to get married, what you’ll find is that you’ll belong to them to the extent of your decency. Not your happiness. You’ll have to confront this notion sooner or later that life is not about being happy. In my experience happiness is a nice thing when you can get it, like a hot dinner. But it will never define who you are.

I send your mother’s family a third of my small paycheck every month. If I kept that money we’d have cable TV and a nice vacation every year. But what is that in the bigger picture? That money keeps them alive. They’re used to getting it, no one says thank you anymore, they only get upset when it’s late. But where would they be without it? You can’t let people down, not when it’s your blood. When you have cause someday to remember me as I was, remember that too and be generous in your thoughts to somebody. There is no reward in Heaven for so called goodness. That’s bullshit. Your blood, your own, they know you’re looking out for them. That’s your reward. That’s what it means to be a man.

Very few men are gifted with a great and passionate love, not even once in their life. Most of us are lucky to just have somebody.

Very few men ever find wisdom. Most of us don’t even begin to have the mental tools to recognize wisdom, much less God

And while we’re at it, kid, God does exist. I’m still sure of that. But - very few men ever find God, not the real God. Most men will settle for much less than the real God. Most men will chase after the false god of false promises and settle for mere religion and fuck up their lives and cause terrible suffering to others as a result. Instead – struggle to see yourself plainly, as you really are, neither better or worse and with no illusions. And see others and realize their suffering is just like yours and that they’re just as important as you. Be a man for them. That is the real religion. I never found God. But I stuck with it long enough to know he’s somewhere off in that direction. For sure.

Go to college, not just to get a job, but to let your curiosity burst and flourish. Discover how collossaly ignorant you are in the face of all there is to know, and then boldly shove your ignorance in people's faces and let them beat on you until you become sharp. Be a real scholar, not a book whore. Keep your curiosity alive and it will keep your heart young. Find a thing to do that fires your heart and nourishes your soul and earn a living with it if you can. But be willing to set aside your dreams if there are good people who need you to help them accomplish their dreams. Don’t sacrifice others for yourself. Maybe you’ll get your dreams back someday, maybe not. Dreams are much cheaper than you think.

But what you need to know is there is more to the picture. The failures I’ve made are the most common and universal failures of all men. You will fail at these things too if you have the courage to aspire to them. Failure in itself is not a shameful thing. Mediocrity is shameful, if you’re a man of potential. Are you a man of potential, boy? You do seem so to me. If you fall in love with a woman, give her all your soul and all your poetry. Do it for me. And if she breaks your heart – go out and do it all over again. Go down in flames, but go down fighting. If you fall, fall bad and break every bone and don’t skip any. Bleed a while and then get your ass the fuck up and start over. Don't ever let the bastards keep you down.

And if you must fail, fail by falling off a goddamn mountain. Like your old man.

C. Sanchez-Garcia


  1. Hi, Garce,

    Well, that brought me to tears and that's saying something, since I don't often cry when I read things, and I don't often admit it, when I do.

    I don't know how old your son is, but I have to wonder why you don't give him this to read *right now,* rather than "some day." Why don't we tell those we love the things we're thinking *right now?* Why do we wait to tell them what is in our hearts?

    I will be honest here and say that while I was never anyone's son, and mayabe fathers and sons have different relationships, than fathers and daughters, but as wonderful as my Dad was, I wish he had told me more of what he truly felt, what he had in his heart, besides the love I could see and feel. My Dad died in 1994. I had him for 43 years, and I treasure every single moment that he and I spent together -- just the two of us -- without anyone else interrupting and trying to take away our time together.

    I don't know if he had dreams he never fulfilled. I know that after he retired, he sang in an opera chorus and when I went to see those performances, I could see and *feel* his joy in that art he loved. And it wasn't until I first saw him in a full-blown opera that I finally realized from whom I inherited my love of singing and acting and just being out there performing.

    My mother was the great love of my Dad's life and he looked after her well for their almost 58 years together. For her part, despite her controlling ways, I think if she truly and deeply loved anyone, it was he. My Dad had no sons, but I know he loved all his daughters. He set the bar very high when it came to good, decent, loving men, and I'm glad he did, because I learned to settle for nothing less.

    But I'll never know if he had other dreams he dreamed, heartaches he never revealed, passions he never pursued. I don't know. I'll never know.

    I think the greatest gift you can give your children is the give of time and yourself -- time you spend with them, time you share yourself and your thoughts with them, time you let them tell you, without any fear, whatsoever, what is in their hearts.

    You've written these thoughts and say they are for your son "some day," if he reads them. His heartache will be if he reads them and it is too late for him to respond, to maybe put his hand on your shoulder, or even hug you and say, "It's okay, Dad. It's okay. We're okay."

    Don't lose that opportunity, and don't deprive him of it. There is only now.


  2. This was beautifully writen, but brought out what is happening in a lot of homes.
    I'm one who always felt thankful for the man I had in my life, as he was beside me and our children. He was there to help in whatever came before him.
    He is being missed by us all, and I hope someday I'll find another man who has some of the same quailities.
    Yes, I agree that all young men today needs to read this.

  3. Hi Garce, first time I've read one of these for a long time, have to pay for internet now at the internet cafe here in San Ignacio. But for some reason I felt like taking the time and I'm glad I did.

    I remember thinking to myself about my mother, 'I'll never be like you' often after she had been tearing into my Dad about something. I certainly never said it to her, I wouldn't have been greeted with silence but probably by being thrown out of the house, which eventually happened anyway.

    But I think Rose is right, you should probably tell him now before it is too late. I never resolved anything with my mother while she was alive. One of my sisters tried that and was met with blank denial "I don't know what you're talking about".

    I did spend a lot of my life working very hard at not being her, and truth to tell I don't regret it. I learned the lessons my soul came to learn and it chose the perfect parents to teach it those things.

    i just wanted to share warm feelings with you. i don't know if everybody feels this sense of failure as we get older, but I have certainly felt it and feel it. The sense that I haven't fulfilled my potential, not even close, but I can't find anywhere where I didn't do my best. Perhaps, this too is the human condition.

    Thank you for your writing and sharing.


  4. Hi Rose!

    Oh I promise you, as surely as he was a man he had dreams he had not fulfilled, unrevealed heartaches, and unpursued passions, because he sounds like a soulful person. I think for him singing in the opera and feeling joy in his art would be comparable to what I feel sometimes on a good day when I'm writing. And of course if you pay your dues at the keyboard you'll have those good days every so often. I can imagine your father up there singing for the angels.

    I know what you're saying, but it may be a while. I want him to be out on his own first and learn a little judgement and discernment and then someday he'll understand this better. Someday I hope he'll discover my writings and blogs and he'll know there's more to his Dad than he thought. The dark side of our chosen art is that we can't show it off to our kids when they're young. Its not meant for kids.

    But hey - I'm so glad you read it, Rose. Thank you.


  5. Hi Anonymous

    Thank you for reading my blog. It sounds like you had the blessing of a solid and decent man who stood by you. What I'm hearing in the posts of my blog mates here from Lisabet on, is that as you grow up the definition of sexy changes. When you;re young, girls like the bad boys, the unreliable but assertive ones. Then when you get older you start to appreciate the quiet ones more. The ones you can build a life around.


  6. Caroline!

    How is Belize treating you? IS it how you imagined?
    I was there around 2004, when the military sent me and some people to do some stuff. That was quite a time. On one of our off days near the end, we took a day off to see the Mayan pyramids at Xunantunich (zoo-nan-too-nick). I felt like Indiana jones for a day. That's the pyramid you see on the beer bottles of stout they have over there. I liked the stout too. But Belize - I redefined my defintion of what "poor" meant after traveling around there. Those folks are poor. Some of them anyway.

    Well, you turned out not to be like your mother, as and I expect will happen with my son, you made your own mistakes, at least some of which were the same ones I made also. Except you kept your faith intact in a different way than I did. Amazing.

    You know what Caroline - not everybody will share it in a public forum like this, but the sense of not having reached our potential - I'll bet everybody feels it. I'll bet even the immortals, like Picasso or Bob Dylan, anyone you can name, they feel it too. The only ones who wouldn;t feel it are the ones who never felt they had any potential. Isn;t it better to feel like you had the potential, however far you got with it?


  7. Hi Garce, I'll reply straight to you inbox. Could get long.



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