Sunday, July 02, 2006

Walking the warrior path

"Boys look for the warrior path. Someone must teach them how to find it, and how to walk it. If they are not taught this, they will try to find it on their own, and they will miss it."

I'm not sure if I read this, or if it is something that someone told me. It has the taste of something I was told.

The male of the human species is aggressive. It is hard-wired into our systems on a genetic level, and has been for the last 250,000 years.

4,000 years of civilization does not, can not, and will not erase 200,000 years of blood-and-bone instinct, no matter how much people wish it would.

My father was a strong man. Every child's father is strong, but mine was scarily so. I saw him lift things at the plant that other men required help to lift.

I never, ever saw him touch my mother -- or any other woman for that matter -- with anything but gentleness. I can't say the same for me -- he tanned my hide more than once -- but never more than necessary and never with anything but a fraction of his strength.

Little steps.

My father stood tall, and I saw how to do that without crushing other people.

He showed respect where respect was due, and he expected the same in return. However, when faced with disrespect, my father did not react with violence, he either ignored it, or dealt with it in other ways. Walking with him, I learned the same.

Little steps.

I learned, as I walked with him, of duties, responsibilities and obligations, and how they were more important than those things which you felt you deserved. I learned to accept when I was in the wrong, and to accept the results with grace.

That's the thing about walking the warrior path. 'When' and 'how' to use your strength is easy to learn. It's learning not to use your strength where people -- boys -- stumble.

I have had many people show me further along the path, but each part of that journey is based upon the baby steps that my father showed me. Everything that I am, is based upon those steps that my father showed me.

I write this, because I have just realized that my father has been dead for a longer part of my life than he was alive for.

A fact which just really sucks today.

I love you, Dad. Thanks.

Your Son

12 comments:

Ben Swenson said...

Lawdog,
I've read your tales for perhaps the last five or six years (I first signed on to TFL in 2000 but I don't recall when I first found one of your yarns). Every time you mentioned your father, I wanted to meet the man. I wanted to shake his hand, congratulate him on how well he raised his son and sit with him on the porch and listen to the stories he might have about you.

It is my great loss that I will never get the chance to meet the man in person, but each time you bring a moment with him to life, you give us all a chance to know him a little bit and admire him the more.

Thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

My Dad passed away the day after my 25th birthday. It will be 16 years ago in 2 weeks. Still saddens me. My kids will never know the man, and my words will never do him justice. That really sucks. I share your grief.

I head out west a good bit. If you ever stop a guy with a big mustache, too many guns to count and that drives just a wee tad over the speed limit. Let me buy the beverage of your choice and jaw a bit.

Smoke

Anonymous said...

Generally, gentle people have self-esteem, self-confidence. These are earned, not given.

Art

Vic303 said...

Well said, Lawdog, well said!

Nathaniel Firethorn said...

LD, your dad was quite a man.

It'll be ten years this Thursday since I lost my dad. Still rots.

- NF

David said...

I really wish I could relate to this. There's been so many times that I've wondered how my life would be different if I'd had a father to help raise me. My mother did the best she could raising three boys on her own and I think we turned out ok.

But sometimes I wonder....

Billiam said...

Good one. It makes me think Of my Dad, as well. I met him when I was 15. Rocky times followed, but, eventually we worked it out. he's been gone 16 months now. What he taught me, it's there forever. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. It seems many of us have lost our fathers around the same time of the year. My dad died June 19, 1990, the day after Father's Day. I miss him at times, too, and wish there were times I could talk to him.

Kiki B.

308Mike said...

I too miss my dad. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him. There are so many things I'd like to share with him, just to see him smile.

Great post, LD.

Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

Lost my dad Memorial Day weekend eight years ago now, and my husband Labor Day two years ago. Both ends of the summer basically suck.

I worry about what having watched his Dad's decline and having to step up to the plate as the 'man of the house' at age 17 did to my son.

LD, my condolences to you. If the proof of the father is in what their sons make of themselves, then your daddy did good.

Next to Last Samurai said...

What a beautiful essay!

John said...

If their memories and life lessons still live on in you and you take those lessons and instill them in your life and pass on to your children are they truely gone?

I like to believe that by doing so you are in a sense keeping them alive, albeit not in a physical form but in the heart they can live on through you.