I recently had an epiphany. Like the best of their kind, it was incredibly simple and overwhelmingly powerful. It was, simply, that it’s easy to forget how extraordinarily good we’ve got it. We get busy; we get tired; we get frustrated. We suffer hardship; we suffer ridicule; we suffer injustice. We get so caught up in the things that consume our daily thoughts that we fail miserably at putting it all in the proper perspective. We take things for granted because we can’t see that proverbial forest. Feeling hemmed in by the rows of lush, evergreen trees, we lose our path. We, how do you say, freak the hell out. It’s human; it’s natural. Without some conscious effort, it’s inevitable. At least it was for me.
“Can’t is a bad word, daddy,” said my three-year-old one day, out of the blue, with a completely straight face.
“Yes it is, buddy. Can’t is definitely a bad word,” I replied, not really registering in the moment the magnitude of his statement. Sure, I was filled with the wonder and fatherly pride at hearing my son offer such straight-faced maturity. He is three, after all. But it wasn’t until later as I thought back on my day and remembered what he’d said that it truly sank in. The reality is that my son probably overheard a conversation between my wife and me. Didn’t matter at that point. Didn’t dilute the potency. “Can’t” is indeed a bad word. Or, more generally, a negative attitude makes progress awfully difficult. And it was my son’s innocent wisdom that forced me to reflect on that. I thought about my approach to life, how I’d been handling challenges with my wife, my career and my children.
Whoever first uttered the phrase, “life isn’t easy” was no dummy. This shit is hard. Real hard if you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth and actually give a damn about where you end up.
(Sidenote: My mother will be super proud of me that I didn’t start cursing until halfway through the article. Maybe if you have a cookie or two, you’ll send me one. You can send ‘em care of Jack Move Mag. I’m sure the address is around here somewhere.) [Editor’s note: Fat chance, bub. Cookies sent to Jack Move stay with Jack Move.]
Logically, and obviously, life is hard because the things in our lives are hard. Marriage. Career. Kids. This is precisely where I began to lose my way and a big chunk of my perspective. I forgot how blessed I am. I found myself complaining about driving 85 miles to work. Complaining about getting up at 3:30 in the morning to comfort one of my little guys back to sleep. Complaining about phone calls from my wife that interrupted my busy work day. Complaining. Lots of it. Ever been there? Sitting there now?
I let myself drift into this strange land, and began spiraling into a deep depression. Hindsight being a magical cure-all, of course, I can see now that it was totally unnecessary.
I still drive 85 miles to work every day (that’s 170 miles roundtrip for the mathematically challenged); that hasn’t changed. But instead of complaining about it, I consider it a privilege to have a kick-ass job to drive to every day in a tough economy that has put a lot of really good people in a really bad place.
I still wake up at all hours of the night to comfort any one of my four children; but, instead of complaining about it I consider myself blessed to have four wonderful children to wake up to. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to complain my way to 70 years of age, at which point I will invariably wish that I could still hold ‘em and kiss their little faces and tuck them back in bed.
The phone calls from my wife during busy work days? Still there. Man, I have a partner who loves me with all her heart; a partner who takes time out of her busy day to reach out to me and connect. There is so much win there—who complains about that?!
I have an amazing wife, a fulfilling career and four beautiful kids. Sure, there are always going to be challenges, but putting them in the proper perspective has made all the difference. My life is far from perfect, but I can say one thing with absolute certainty: it’s complete.
The beautiful part is that your perspective is precisely that – yours. You get to frame it. No matter how difficult life seems, no matter how bad things have gone or are going, no one – and I mean NO ONE – gets to decide how you view the world. No one but you.
I spent far too long complaining. Too long blaming outside influences for my perspective. Don’t make the same mistake. Cherish the good in your life. I’ll let my wife know every day that I love her. When she calls, I’ll answer. If she needs a massage, I’ll give her one. If she wants to watch a program about housewives or runway designers, I’ll watch it. I’ll comfort my kids at 2:00 in the morning even if I’m dead tired. I’ll tousle their hair and give ‘em a hug even if they spill juice on daddy’s dress shirt. I’ll get to the office early and stay late if the job calls for it. I’ll cover someone else’s job if they need to take a maternity leave. I’ll do it all with a smile and a comfort in knowing that the blessings are there, if you take the time to appreciate them.
And I’ll slip up. For sure. But I’ll start over again, as many times as I need to. What about you?
A mild-mannered internet marketer by day, by nights and weekends the Ironshef dons many hats (and equally as many capes). Whether swinging from the rafters as Daddy Monkey or charging up his batteries as Daddy Robot, most home time is spent with his four young boys, ranging from two to 10 with twins in between, or relaxing with his amazing wife, Jennifer. An avid fan of fantasy books, movies and video games, the Ironshef typically spends his quiet, personal time noodling over a fledgling novel and planning world domination through creation of the most ambitious video game of all time. He’s always happy to connect and chat, whether the subject is search engine optimization, soccer or something straight-up silly. You can find him here: bryon /. / sheffield /@/ gmail /./ com.