Friday, October 22, 2010

Lesson from my father

Is there someone you love and that person is passionate about something? Maybe that person does beautiful needlework, or is a marvelous calligrapher, or restores old cars. Maybe you're not interested in needlework, calligraphy, or old cars. How do you respond to that person when he or she wishes to share what they're doing with you?

Maybe they say, "Hey! Look at what I made last week. Isn't this cool?" You may not give a rat's ass about the work, but you love this person and this person's enthusiasm. So you look. You admire. You ask questions. You learn about what they're doing. You give that person feedback.

Yesterday I was showing my father my work. Five examples of this, five of that, for maybe three minutes. Midway through he says, "okay, interesting," and then goes to his recliner and turns on the television. Really loud. I pack up my stuff and leave.

He has always been this way. All my life. I should expect nothing more. I should be over this by now, but it still hurts.

So now I look at ME. Am I doing the same thing, unwittingly, to others? To Chris? Am I feigning interest or, worse, indifference? Are we all guilty of this, that unbeknownst to us, our loved ones are looking for our acknowledgment, validation, approval and we're oblivious to it?

Those of you with children, take a look at your reactions to their requests for you to "hey, look at this!" And what about our friends? Are we so jaded, so familiar with their work, that we're not giving enough to them? And our spouses/partners? Are we taking them for granted?

My father's attitude over the years has hurt and continues to hurt. But yesterday's scenario taught me something about me. Maybe I'm more like him than I think. As a result, I am now determined to take note of my responses to others' requests for attention. Because this kind of hurt stays with the person. Maybe over the course of a lifetime.

I return home tomorrow. To a quiet, clean, clutter-free environment, to loving arms and a heart that loves me unconditionally, to a relatively drama-free life. I can hardly wait. ©Carol Leigh