The fathers we’re given, and the fathers we choose.
Having a balanced upbringing is important, though no family is perfect; we often lay out the image of a better version of ourselves out to the public.
Speech patterns change, behaviour becomes more appropriate — parents seem a lot more civilised.
It’s a social construct we must conform to, because no family wants to be seen as idiosyncratic — the leeks visible to the outside world.
“What happens in the family, stays in family” — much like in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather.
Godfather has a special meaning, especially when you’re a young individual who has no sense of purpose or what it means to have responsibility.
We seek out, and search, as we grow into the mould we’ve built for ourselves.
We’re lucky, if offered both — parents that are stable and a mentor that compliments them.
I’m lucky to have both.
Grateful for it.
I was often told, the best friend a parent can have is when their children become adults; I’ve found this to be true.
I wasn’t as close to my parents, nor did I relate to them much when I was young.
Growing up, I’ve grown to admire their effort and wisdom.
Yet, there is always the sense that the mentors I sought, mentors who saw something in me — motivated me to pursue some thing I didn’t much think was worthy of pursuing, were different to the influence that I saw in my parents.
The father that I am born with, is a kind man, a gentle man, a very intellectual man, very well respected, and one who comes from humble beginnings.
My Mentor and Godfather, is a recluse, he reads, his room is often dark, his office usually does not notice his comings and goings, and largely remains anonymous as he moves through a crowd — yet he’s a man of influence and is well-respected.
My father is an open-man, he’s funny, he’s calm, he’s a provider.
My Godfather, is rough around the edges, straight forward, tough, and often perceived as rude.
Both men hold equal regard in my life — and I am grateful equally to both of these individuals who helped shaped the person that I am today, and continue to do so as I grow older.
I seek advice from both, share my daily stories — yet there’s a difference between our interactions.
My father, is well, someone who has known me since the day I was born.
I cannot smoke cigarettes in front of him, out of respect, though he knows full well I’m a nicotine addict — often using sarcasm to point out he knows I’ve just sneaked one.
My Godfather, is some one I wouldn’t dare light up a cigarette in front of — though he often tells me there’s no harm in smoking in front of him, if I’m going to do it in anyways.
It’s respect, and I hold it very dearly to offer it to both of these individuals in equal regard.
My father wasn’t dismissive of my failures, he was persistent that I could do better.
My Godfather was proud of my failures, often encouraging me that failure was a great thing.
As I grew older, I noticed their views — as polarising as they once appeared, we no longer at crossroads.
They were intertwined values.
Represented differently, perceived as such.
Jordan Peterson, is often labeled a “father”, for young-men; a great mentor — if you will.
Though, I have nothing against the man for his work, I find nothing of value in it.
He appears arrogant, seems to lack empathy, and often shrugs off individual values down to stereotypes of what a “man” should be.
One thing my father and my godfather never did was tell me what kind of “man” I should be, instead they led by example and focused on “values”.
- Be Kind.
- Be Humble.
- Be Grateful.
- If rejected, show gratitude and move on.
- Keep pursuing your work.
- Value your work.
- Learn to take criticism.
- There’s no harm in taking a few punches.
- There’s no point in arguing about nothing of value.
- Focus on fruitful opportunities.
- Enjoy your life.
- Do no harm to others.
- Do not judge others, on face value.
- Skills can be taught, values are ingrained.
- Stick to your principles.
- Know when to draw the line.
- Pick your battles, carefully.
- Do not hold hatred, it will destroy you.
- Learn to be forgiving.
- You need not be the loudest individual in a room.
- There’s no harm in saying “Sorry”.
- Most of all, never disrespect a hard-working individual.
These are the values my two fathers ingrained in me, by example.
My Godfather once walked into a conference room, there were people in suits waiting for him. He asked me to accompany him and quietly sit in the corner and take notes. He never spoke once during the meeting. Never raised his voice. People argued with one another, he sat quietly — observing.
When he finally spoke, the room felt dead silent. I stopped scribbling just because the sound was too noticeable now in a room that was once too polluted with noise.
“I see problems, who’s got the solution?”, he waited.
“Nobody? What about you?”, he pointed to me.
“What should we do, there’s a room full of problems — yet no solution. So what do you say, Son?”, the room filled with people now glaring at me — I’m just a kid.
“The people pointing out the problems will be the last to solve it…?”, I murmured.
“Good. Now let us go and solve the problems these people have brought to us, and we’ll leave them here to argue with one another.”
I came back home filled euphoric,
“Dad! I helped solve problems with Baba (my godfather)…”, I yelled with joy.
“What problems did you solve?”, my curious father wondered.
“Well…there was problems in the accounting office. So we went down and he taught me what Debit and Credit is. There was problems in Human Resources, and he taught me not to discipline people in public.”, I replied.
“Why do you think he didn’t discipline people in public? He could have done that, why didn’t he?”, my father asked with a grin.
“…I don’t know. Probably because they’d argue?”, I guessed.
“Because you don’t humiliate people in public, you want a unified front. You don’t expose a person’s shortcomings in front of their peers. You talk to them respectively and give them a chance to improve.”, my father replied.
Suddenly, the two different experiences had come to intertwine.
Experience and Wisdom had come to form in unison.
I knew I’d chosen wisely, blessed with two wonderful fathers.
Leading by example, and guiding me to a path to become a better human being; rather than being a better “man”.
Continuously improving upon myself, to be a better human being; rather than try to prove I can always be the “man”.