Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Salt pillars

Life is full of dilemmas. I don't mean the choice between two evils we get taught about in school, but the binary choices we make that have exclusive outcomes. For example, it's possible to travel to London or Edinburgh for the weekend and both are nice places, but you can't be in two places at the same time.

One of my favourite poems touches on this theme perfectly, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The step into parenthood is like this, it's a road that you can walk down where there's no going back. It's why people who loose their kids to tragedy take on a listless, broken quality, because the ground really has opened up right under them. Most of us will never have to suffer like that, but should still be mindful that there is no going back, after all who wants to become a pillar of salt (occasionally the theology degree comes back to haunt me!). My past of derring-do and colourful adventures becomes the stories that will entertain and inspire Harris.

I've seen snow in a desert, flown a fighter jet, been awarded a medal, won a knife fight (there was one knife, and the other guy had it to start with), saved a couple of lives, and perhaps most importantly, been willing time and time again to travel to far away places with only my somewhat distended baggage allowance (I travelled often enough to perfect a wardrobe that gave me an extra 30kg!) for extended periods of time to face the unknown or, in the case of some former students, the unknowledgeable which in a strange way is far more challenging). Honestly, being a dad is so much better and I wouldn't go back even if I could. After all, as someone who's always tried to live like an action hero, this is my chance to train a sidekick.


DAD