When I was young and foolish, I approached happiness the same way I did most everything else in my life…superficially. I viewed joy more like a quick fix rather than something of value; anything that promised instant gratification, or even hinted of a quick thrill, was all I needed. We were all shallow joy junkies back then, and we knew it. I know, I hung out with the wrong crowd… or did they?
But after a while the hangovers and disappointments became much too high a price to pay for the emptiness left in its wake. Thank God I found a better way.
I have since learned over the years that sustained happiness is born out of such things as accomplishments, serving others, hard work… you get the picture. No wonder I overlooked it as a lad.
But these virtues certainly aren’t very sexy or exciting at first glance. And to make things worse, they have a learning curve which requires great effort and patience in order to realize the joy and satisfaction they eventually deliver. It’s a miracle I ever discovered this truth.
For instance…early on, I didn’t realize that serving others would bring such joy to my life as my chosen career later revealed.
Until I developed self-discipline and a good work ethic, I had no idea that the personal achievement it provides would unleash such feelings of inner peace and happiness, a thirst I now quench on a regular basis.
And until I finally decided to begin loving others more than myself, a characteristic I certainly wasn’t born with, I had never experienced the overwhelming rush of incoming love which accompanies such actions… talk about getting what you give… what an understatement.
Learning that showing respect to others would in turn earn respect was one of life’s most eye opening revelations for me. It’s hard to grasp this one walking around with a chip on your shoulder.
I realize these golden nuggets I finally discovered, seem pretty much common knowledge to those of you who grew up in a loving, intact family environment… one from which both mom and dad were an integral part. What a blessing.
But for those without both parents in the picture, such knowledge is often far from common… in fact for many, it’s not even on the radar.
My dad died very young. I remember as a teenager growing up without him, feeling sorry for myself, wandering through life almost aimlessly. Yes, Mom was around and she worked very hard keeping food on the table and clothes on our backs…but a boy needs his dad.
Hey daddy-os, listen up!… particularly those of you who have always had yours. You have no earthly idea how unbelievably important your love and presence is to the wellbeing of your kids… especially your sons.
Not having the loving eyes of a father in my life, helping to keep my paths straight and narrow, I always chose the wrong one to venture down. You know the one…the one of least resistance which always leads to the same place… absolutely nowhere.
You see, every decision I made was on the edge, which kept it exciting… and self-serving, which kept me addicted… a freakin’ carousel of madness.
As a result, as a young teen, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going most of the time. True… but how much of that had to do with not having the eyes of a father to look up to early on… everything… absolutely everything.
Dads, I’m not trying to insult your intelligence here, but far too many of us live as if we don’t have any. When we help bring our children into this world, we have a moral obligation to not only love them through the minefields of life, which by the way no one does better than a dad, but also more importantly, to teach them how to become happy. If we don’t, who will?
Our kids, especially our sons, find their center through the eyes of a father.
There’s a window from about age 8 to somewhere around 18 when a boy, for a lack of a better analogy, is like an unbroken horse. Without the presence of a fulltime dad keeping him somewhat tethered, he will run wild… and when a boy runs wild, it’s not only devastating for him, but for us all.
If you believe I’m off base here, just look around, it’s everywhere… and it’s a growing problem. Kids without intact families are practically raising themselves these days, running with gangs, living hopelessly without direction or discipline of any kind. Most all of them have mothers… but where are the DADS? We all know where they’re not… and that’s the problem.
Here are a couple of staggering statistics from the US Department of Census:
• 43% of US children live without their father.
• 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes… 90%.
When we come into this world, we’re self-centered, the world evolves around us, and, sadly, we remain that way until we realize happiness only awakens as we get out from underneath ourselves and begin focusing on others… a discipline gang leaders fail to teach.
But even more difficult for these kids to negotiate, are the minefields of life I alluded to earlier. This is where the eyes of a loving father are so vital.
Life is a continuous struggle between good and bad…. happy and sad… love and hate…you pick the opposing factors. In every turn, it seems we’re being tested.
Choosing bad, sad, or to be filled with hate requires little or no effort to achieve, and even less to maintain. Like a contagious virus, it infects its prey very quickly, and due to its devastating side effects… despair, depression, disease, and loneliness just to name a few, it tends to contaminate forever.
It blows my mind to think of the contrast between my life as a young man, growing up as I did without my dad, and the one I now lead… it’s like day and night.
It’s the quality of people who now surround me which makes the difference. Whether it’s family, business associates, or friends… believe me, they’re the ones who bring the joy to my life. To this day I often wonder… how in the world did this transformation ever happen?
When I think about it, it really shouldn’t surprise me. You see, I have felt the presence of my dad in my life since the day I lost him… God has seen to that. For every time I have fallen over the years, I have somehow landed on my feet. And when I’ve needed extra guidance, someone would almost magically appear. And out of all the girls around, I end up with the best one… how does that happen?
Yes, I’ve come to realize I’ve had my father’s eyes watching over me from above all this time.
The video below completes this posting… please watch.
If you can’t see it, please click here
My Father’s Eyes… with lyrics by Eric Clapton.