Life is a journey, don’t repeat your dad’s mistake!

JourneyIn my previous post, I wrote down some of the advice that I had been intending to give to my kids but (for one reason or another) do not seem to ever get around to telling them. As I imagine my daughter staring down the road of her life, here are more of Roger’s thoughts (on that topic) which I hope may help her and others like her.

  • Looking back, one of the defining characteristics of my life has been that I have always concentrated on the destination, not the journey.

Let me try to give you an imaginary example of what I mean. Like many of you I’m sure, Mrs Relevant and I like to take our kids out for trips at the weekend. No doubt we see these trips as educational, but also we enjoy the family bonding. Among the different cultural places that we have visited (over the years) many have been National Trust houses, so let us imagine the family going to one of them.

Roger always likes to be prepared, so he has checked the map, worked out the best route, decided on the perfect time to leave to ensure that they arrive the moment the gates open, printed off some leaflets relating to the information of the house, checked the weather and decided what activities (outdoor/indoor) would be suitable, packed a bag full of treats and drinks to supply the family for several hours.

CAR_happy

  • Wow, Roger sounds like a great dad eh? This trip is bound to be a success!

Well, not entirely actually. All this preparation meant that Mrs Relevant was stuck with the kids all morning (before leaving) doing all the things that the kids demanded. She never had any time to achieve what she wanted (i.e. prepare her clothes etc.) so she is rushed and is not in a good mood. Her grumbling and moaning at Roger has rubbed off on the kids, meaning that Junior is telling off his dad for upsetting mum. His sister reacts, defending her dad, and soon the whole car is moaning at each other.

  • argumentBizarrely, these two characters really do look my kids!

So what went wrong? Well, Roger was concentrating too much on the destination (getting all the details ready, concentrating on getting there) and not thinking about the journey (the pleasant family-time that should have started the moment the family woke up, to the moment they returned from their outing).

The whole point of that visit was not to ‘achieve’ something (like get to the monument/attraction) but to have a great day out. Roger’s approach often centres too much about ‘ticking the box’ of doing something, rather than taking the time to appreciate what is happening all around him at the time and enjoying that.

  • So my advice to my daughter as she’s looking at the distance up the road? Don’t spend all your time looking ahead at where you are going. Instead, do spend some time looking around you (marvelling at what an amazing world you live in) and enjoy what you have right now.

One Father’s advice to his children

Dad's adviceMaybe this will not resonate with other parents, but I think it probably will.

Many emotions (naturally) whizz around a soon-to-be-father. For most of the 9 months it is fabulous excitement, then the final hours contain a lot of fear and dread. All we really want is for the event to be over, and a healthy baby safely delivered into the arms of its healthy mum. However, once all of that was over, I found myself many times holding my baby and thinking of the advice that I would give him/her as he/she grew up. Naturally the child was too small to understand my words – no matter, I thought, I’d tell him/her soon enough when they had grown up a little.

Well let me tell you that life seems to get in the way. You imagine that there will be ‘perfect times’ for your pearls of wisdom to be offloaded to your kids, but (instead) the maelstrom (that is family life) causes this to never happen. Suddenly you find that (as in my case) your eldest is a teenager and you are not sure that you have ever given him the ‘benefit of your wisdom’ yet, and you are not sure you ever will.

  • This blog post is an attempt by Roger to gather his thoughts so he can give his kids some of the advice he kept forgetting to give them as they were growing up.

So what sort of amazing advice does Roger think his kids could benefit from? Well, that’s a very good question. If Roger considers the question honestly, he’s not sure that he has any world-class advice to give. Sure, his life hasn’t been a disaster, but has it really been a great success either? Would my kids benefit from taking the same kind of decisions that their father took, or has the world changed so much that my past experiences are completely out of touch now?

  • Well Roger has finally decided that it’s best to put something down in writing (even if it is not perfect), and perhaps he can improve on it later. So think of this blog post as ‘work in progress’.

Where to start? Well, I can tell you what has been at the forefront of my mind (when I think of advice) for many years – Baz Luhrmann’s fabulous song – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen). If you’re unfamiliar with it, then the lyrics can be found here, or you can just listen/watch the song here.

It’s not perfect (a couple of the lines do not resonate with my experience of the world) but in general it is so close to the truth (of what life brings) that it’s a fantastic place to start.