“An idle mind is a devil’s play pen” – Chuck Ragan
Since I can remember I’ve been aware of my short-comings and weaknesses. As a kid I did not have large dreams of grandeur; hell, I just wanted to sustain some kind of life. A comfortable existence. I did not buy into the “if you dream it, you can do it” mantra. Things in my childhood seemed unstable. Many times I just hoped I’d continue to have a roof over my head long enough to find my own way in life. I was aware of the things around me or lack thereof. Although I had little in the way of material possessions, I was grateful in many ways. I was grateful for my family, a soft bed and warm meals.
There were times I wished things weren’t so complex, so hectic or broken. But I quickly learned nothing good came from wishing. Only action would bring the results I sought. I was always aware of my capabilities, although I never truly had much confidence in them. I internalized the chaos I felt as doubt in who I was. (It’s okay to doubt yourself, the ones who don’t are dangerous.) The doubt would linger in me for some time and still does, often when a mistake is made, I first blame myself before anyone else. Extreme ownership is the way I cut through the chaos. I had little time to blame others, because the ship I was on was mine and mine alone. If it sank, I would be the only one to suffer from it’s failure.
Those days forged me into who I am today. I am grateful that struggle made its way into my life. I am grateful that nothing was handed to me without work and without failure. Although at times I’ve thought of the universe as “unfair”, I must realize that blame is a sure way to sink your boat.
I know one thing to be true: the greatest things in life are worth going through hell for. Your hell may be different than mine, but to crawl up from the depths of despair to the elevated state of happiness will always prove better than a fake happiness given on a silver platter.
I now seek to keep my kids away from what I experienced as a child. I hope to provide them peace of mind; but I fear they will miss those hard lessons that I learned in chaos. I fear they will not appreciate what they have. How will I assure they develop the proper grit to push through life’s mini-hells? I cannot expose them to my childhood, nor would I want to. In all reality the matrix that made me who I am today is a great mystery and I am far from perfect. You will never know what experiences build and what experiences break. But there needs to be a way struggle is introduced. A way to build gratitude.
Maybe gratitude is lost when parents try to deal with the issues their children are going through. It’s a scary thing releasing your kids into the wild and softening that blow seems like the right thing to do. I often catch myself trying to solve my son’s problems instead of allowing him to struggle though it. Struggle is the key. Without it, how can you appreciate success?
It’s safe to say my boys will one day go through their own version of struggle. It’s to be expected, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. All I can do is instill the ethos I’ve acquired in my life the best I can, then step back and allow them to struggle. They may fall and that’s okay. Falling is good, it reminds you there’s always a hard surface to break your fall. Finding the grit to get back up is what needs to be cultivated in struggle.
My hope is for my sons to realize they are far more resilient then they perceive. I want them to realize that no matter how hard things may get in life, they have the option to forge one. I want them to appreciate the little things, work for the big things and always be proud of what they have accomplished. They can’t dream and wish their way into success, that needs to be earned in struggle. I don’t have a sure answer on how struggle can be introduced; but I know the right kind of struggle is a great teacher and it has always taught me well.