School holidays again. This time for two weeks and my wife is here to help. She has taken the two boys to the mainland for a movie at the cinema with some of their classmates. I am at home with our baby daughter and watching the DVD movie ‘SING’ for about the hundredth time and loving it.
Our daughter Charlie was born on the United Nations’ International Day of Dance and already at 27 months old only has to sing out ‘Ra Ra Ra na Ra, ga ga ga na ga’ and we know it is time to watch that animated masterpiece again. They are all masterpieces actually. When you think about the generation working in all the animated movie companies, they all grew up with Disney, video arcade games and Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
What is so great about all these movies and especially musicals, is the analogy that with a great intention, an obstacle is faced, a battle is lost, then after some soul searching, faith is restored, a gutsy plan is devised with a good dash of bravery and self confidence, and the day is won.
Two nights ago my wife asked me how to spell the name ‘Jesus’ and this led to a whole afternoon of explaining the Abrahamic religions and geopolitics of medieval Middle East to present day. Part of the discussion starting at the kitchen table and then when the kids got too noisy, we moved the lesson to my new home office which is actually the garden shed. A garden shed with newly purchased shingle hanging from the door proclaiming “MAN CAVE. My cave, My rules” which I purchased from my favorite tobacconist on the mainland. It was impossible to think, much less work, in the house with three kids running around.
For context, six years ago when we lived in Thailand, my wife went to the Siam Society to hear a presentation by one of the most famous western Buddhist monks, Ajarn Brahm (http://www.bswa.org) who excels in helping people see the funny side of tragedy and restoring trust in human mindfulness. At the end of the lecture one of the other Thai ladies attending sold my wife two CDs of this monk’s other ‘gigs’ as he calls them. The purpose being to calm me when the frustrations of working in a Third World country with a sky train became too much. So I kept those CDs in the car and used to listen to them when I was on a solo drive, occasionally pulling over to cry or listen more intently.
One of the best take aways was when Buddhist monk and Abbot Ajahn Brahm was attending an interfaith conference and was asked his religion. To which he replied “KINDNESS” adding his faith was “TRUTH” and it was there I was convinced this is where the religious often drift away and the rest is sadly so much of our history.
Not I. Ever since Alpha’s first day at school four years ago, we have always filled in our kids’ school enrollment forms with ‘KINDNESS’ in the religion section and this also reinforces the fact he was born on United Nations’ International Day of Peace. Meanwhile, middle child Bravo was born on World Hug Day. Prior to first meeting their Mother for the first time, I had already set my moral compass to the personal ethos to ‘Learn, Love and Laugh’. Branding these three words on business cards we handed out to friends when we left Hong Kong.
No more is this reinforced when I am sitting watching SING’s Theatre Manager, koala Buster Moon, revive his Father’s past success with humble work ethic, inquisitive innovation, faith in love and dance music.
Yesterday in the Man Cave, I finally won a major battle with paper, with no small amount of Borkum Riff Cavendish Vanilla I might add. Bank statements, news clippings, school reports, personal letters, certificates, work related correspondence from past employers, medical and dentist records, anything with a date on it. With the fervor of a librarian, everything was simply put in chronological order. Instead of being filed away by topic or subject, as they had been for so long. Ferried from country to country, often stored in different homes. Some kept in luggage, others in box files, with more in stacks of like mindedness. Causing no small degree of madness, gross indecision and mass procrastination.
No more. Now stands a simple plastic toy box with a date ordered collection of paper recording the personal accounts of Stayatworkfatherofthree from a 1957 newspaper clipping death notice of my great grandmother to an invitation from our sons’ school Principal’s morning tea…..and EVERYTHING in between. Magazine articles that I had been lucky enough to have published, my best achievements, hearts I had loved and broken and reprimands that had tempered my recklessness every seven years in a 46 year history. A story of a small boy with big dreams, sporadic fame and illusive fortune.
Of course, what I really should have been doing was book the plane tickets for my next adventure in Cambodia and Thailand. Sometimes, before we take the next step, it is necessary to get our house in order. If I don’t get back to write a biography no one wants to read, at least our children can pick up from where I left off. Should also be easier for the tax department to see where it all went.
Drowning in a sea of ideas, rough sketches, journal entries, itineries and quotes to muse, it is now possible to cherry-pick where my travels had branched and start writing about how my Mother let me BE whatever I wanted to BE, never letting me DO just anything, especially because we did not HAVE everything we needed. Instilling the same resilience and trust in our children will be the biggest adventure of all.