Jacobi's fifth birthday isn't for a few more days, but I've been a dad for five years. Even before he was born, I felt the heavy responsibility of what being a dad would entail. It didn't knock me in the jaw until after he was born, but I could still feel it coming.
I've been retrospective lately. I've watched countless video of Jacobi when he was just a baby before he could hold his head up, or walk, or talk. I've been looking ahead, too, reminding myself that one day, Jacobi will be me. Not me exactly, but an adult living his life.
Sometimes, I can get a little too much in my head. Jen reminded me to live in the moment. I can't worry about the future because it's fluid. Even good things coming can be upset in the sea of change, just as a surprise disaster might have a cloud with a silver lining. Looking back is fun to do, but too much focus on what's behind you, leaves you blind to what's right in front of you. (Jen always has the best advice, even when I don't want to hear it.)
So, what do I have right in front of me?
A Stream of Imagination
Every day, I'm presented with a new show. It could take any number of forms. Sometimes it's Legos. Sometimes it's a drawing. Today, it was pillows in the living room. In the span of about fifteen minutes, Jacobi had turned a set of pillows on our couch into an accident scene where a garage had fallen onto three or four cars. On strips of paper, he drew stick figures... the people who were hurt in the accident. They had to go to the hospital.
I had to stop with breakfast in order to capture what I was seeing and hearing. It's not the first time Jacobi has done something like this, but perhaps it was the first time I was really listening. His little mind created something huge out of a few scraps of paper and some couch pillows. I was much the same way growing up, but as an adult, that kind of imagination comes only now and then. Seeing this type of creativity in my son is definitely an inspiration to me. It's also a reminder of how easy it can be to just dive into your world.
A Stream of Nonsense
It's so easy as an adult to get wrapped up in the world around me. There are wars raging all around us, a pile of plastic the size of a continent floating in the middle of the ocean, and poison in our food supply, all while global temperatures rise. Even locally, on the eve of the 2016 US presidential caucus, there's lots on my mind about Universal Healthcare and politics that serve the wealthy. That's a lot to take in. It's frustrating, and at times, it feels absolutely hopeless to me.
It's not hopeless though. I have Jacobi, and as a parent, I can't give in to hopelessness. The fact that I have a child comes with the premise that he will thrive in this world of beauty and chaos (and oftentimes both).
The world around me is just what it is, and like looking into the future at what might be and looking back at what was, can bring nothing fulfilling to my life. It's what's here and now that matters. Right now, I have a little boy who plays "pull my finger" and makes up songs about "butt cheeks". How can I carry the weight of the world when that's going on?
A Stream of Beauty
Speaking of beauty and chaos, Jacobi teaches me daily about this lesson. It's an important one to learn and embrace as a dad, but I feel it to be one of the most important lessons that anyone can learn. As human beings, I think it's instinctual to sort things out. Order is good, and chaos is bad. When things are organized, they can be controlled and directed where they need to go, but a chaotic system leads to destruction and failures. That's why it's so difficult to understand order and chaos go hand in hand, creating a system together that is pure beauty in its own right.
Jacobi teaches me this by creating a huge mess in the house (say by using couch pillows and scraps of paper). The living room was clean, but now it is a mess, and the order I fought for is now in the tiny hands of this little boy. But I saw the beauty in the chaos. I saw the imagination, the love, and the small reminder that it's just a mess. No sense in beating my head against a wall. My whole life as a dad has been the same way. Looking back on those videos of baby Jacobi made me remember all those times I marveled at the little things he did. Baths in the sink that spilled water all over our kitchen floors were chaotic and beautiful. Chasing Jacobi through the house is the same, as were our early games of hide and seek.
I don't know what the future will bring for me, and certainly, I have no idea what it will bring for Jacobi. I have hopes and dreams, and a few expectations. Holding myself and him to whatever I imagine might happen is impossible though, and I hope I can continue to remember the lessons I've learned today. So, I'm just going to draw a happy face, and maybe grab some lunch :)