Posted by: corwinsr | January 15, 2010

The Next Santa

This is sort of a spoiler warning for parents – please don’t let your young children read this

Like countless parents throughout history I’ve struggled with the day I have to tell my child the truth about Santa Clause.

From their first Christmas we have a growing sense of dread at this first, little loss of innocence. I think that’s why we delay it as long as possible – most parents to the point of letting their children find out on their own. That’s not what I wanted for my son, so this year I was determined to have a plan for that fateful day.

I usually think of such worries in the shower so it was no surprise that with Christmas only a couple of weeks away I found myself again knocking this one around.

The nature of the Santa dilemma is the aforementioned loss of innocence but there’s also the element of trust between a parent and their child. With the end of this illusion comes an inherent loss of trust that seems unavoidable.

But there’s something else that’s always bothered me and that is the loss of magic, or more precisely the belief in magic. You see I still believe there’s magic in the world. My definition has changed over the years but I believe magic is real.

It’s that belief in magic that led me to a simple and beautiful solution to this dilemma.

I no longer believe in magic carpets or genie lamps nor do I believe in séances or spells. What I do believe in is the magic of nature that so many of us have lost touch with. If you don’t believe me find a single day to go to a state park. When you get there, turn everything off – the car, the radio, your phone, everything – and just stand or walk or sit and look and listen and breathe and feel. This is real magic. Magic that can transform you, change you. For some it can fix you and heal you. If you’re able to stay overnight, turn off all the lights and look at the sky. Just look and let your mind wander. Above all don’t be afraid of your own thoughts.

But it’s not only in nature that we can find magic – we can also find it in the human heart. Every time a person chooses forgiveness over hate, even though every fiber of their being wants to hold the hurt close and never, ever let it go – and they still choose forgiveness. That is true magic.

When the time comes to talk to him I can now explain that Santa really does exist and I can explain why.

I’ll start by telling him that people are selfish. It’s wired into us from birth. A child depends on a grown-up because they have to. To a child there is nothing in the world more important than themselves.

When we’re older this becomes more and more re-enforced by the endless parade of products and services all out to get our attention. We love to get things and have things given to us.

Then one day something happens to us and it changes. For some it’s the day they first fall in love, for others it’s the day they first look at their newborn child. Something inside changes and we find that we care about someone else more than ourselves.

Against a lifetime of being self-centered and selfish we find that we can only think about making that other person as happy as they can possibly be. It’s a transformation. It’s magic.

I’ll explain to him that when he’s older and this miracle happens to him – on that day – he will become Santa.

Just as his mom and I did the day we fell in love and the day he was born.

Posted by: corwinsr | January 15, 2010

Alternate Future

I wrote this about two weeks before the election of November 2008 when I was particularly angry at the level of outright lies that were flying around.

After November 4th, when McCain is selected to be the nation’s 44th president, there will be 11 weeks for Americans to prepare for this presidency.

For the next four years after January 20th 2009, the following things happened:

America attacked Iran while staying stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely. The American economy and world economy continued in a global recession. Healthcare reform and Energy diversification arrived still-born thanks to the massive financial influence of multinational pharmaceuticals and oil companies.

The national debt increased as trillions were pumped overseas to support the eternal war on terror.

After the Wall Street bailout, Washington realized that home mortgages also needed rescuing to prevent a complete depression and continued its transition to a socialist-democracy by buying up bad home loans.

The lines of class warfare became more clearly defined thanks to the universal media message of fear as a motivator for all things. Fear of being fat, fear of being ugly, fear of being robbed, fear of war, disease, poverty, boredom, getting older, etc. Fear of anything that helps define “us” vs. “them”.

Distrust and disgust with government increased to the level of non-participation by the general public, leaving everyone at the mercy of whatever Washington wants to do – which was the intent.

America declined from being an economic giant as the global recession evened the financial playing field.

America’s dominance as a super-power diminished as the military was stretched beyond its capacity to effectively deal with any new threat.

The United States was increasingly “not invited” to world meetings due to its irrelevance.

There were continuous meetings where global treaties were signed and ratified on everything from trade and environmental negotiations to peace agreements and humanitarian efforts – whether the U.S. participated or not.

My son grew up in a country increasingly divided by class, divided by wealth, divided by healthcare, divided by education, divided by religion, divided by Washington.

This is the America I see happening if our nation chooses the path decided by fear.

Posted by: corwinsr | January 15, 2010

My Fathers Eulogy

I see my brothers and sisters, all my aunts and uncles. My mom. You all had your first children before mine was born. So you knew long before I did how a child could look at you and say something – nothing specific – just anything – and it can take you on entire journeys that last only seconds in your mind.

I was moving around the house, going from one daily thing to another, listening to my son in the background – playing. He had an entire dramatic production going on. There were characters and plots, dialogue and action. Even comic relief. It was his movie and he was the director and producer, writer and editor.

As I walked by, the whole thing came to a complete halt and he looked up and said, “Daddy?”

I stopped and said, “yes son?” And all he did was smile and look straight in my eyes the way only a child can and said, “I love you”.

I immediately began that journey that lasts a second.

And he was already back, commanding his world.

It was a defining journey for me the first time it happened.

When I was his age, the only things that mattered to me were toys and experiences:

When I was getting my next toy, what it would be, what color. And where could I go, the park, the rides a birthday party, a carnival?

Later, all I worried about is what everyone thought about me. How to be popular, what to wear, who to hang out with, what to eat, what to listen to.

Don’t kid yourself, it’s not just girls that have those kinds of insecurities – boys just aren’t supposed to admit it.

Finally, as an adult, the things that were important to me were my goals, my aspirations, my accomplishments. My entire sense of self worth was tied up in what I had done with my life and what I was going to do with it.

Then we had a child, and one day he made me realize something that I’d been slowly absorbing ever since he’d been born. I think the reason it took me so long to accept it, is that old ways of looking at things don’t like to be replaced…

…and they don’t leave quietly.

My entire life; my purpose and my worth are all on display in that little four-year-old boy.

I said it was a defining journey the first time it happened. Now that I see it, it happens all the time. And that’s good, I don’t want to go back to the way I used to see things.

As I wrote these words, something else occurred to me;

I think I know how it feels to be on both sides of that discovery. Because I think that our dad understood this same thing. I have no doubt that in those first few years of my oldest brothers life, at some point dad looked at his child and finally knew what was important and what wasn’t.

I’ve thought a lot about growing up and all the thousands of memories that involve dad. A conversation in a half-built house in Huntsville. A joke told in the car on the way to a restaurant. An argument on a Saturday morning. Sometimes just a look. I’m convinced that dad tried to teach that to me every day of my life because I know that I’ll spend every day trying to teach it to my son.

With that in mind, our father could only have looked around at all his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren, and every single day have the wonderful and beautiful knowledge that his purpose in life was achieved – and by it, his worth was priceless. How could you not go to sleep every night and thank God for such a tremendous gift?

I believe that’s where he was when he went. And I believe that, in itself, was a gift to him and to us.

There is grief.

And I’m sad that I can no longer see him or talk to him,

And I’m sad for those that he’s been closest to for the void that’s going be left behind.

But for the man, and for myself, what I feel the most is not grief or sadness, but fulfillment and satisfaction.

Our children are more than just our future.

Sometimes….. they can be our salvation.

My son has been mine. And I know all of us were our dads.