My father has always been a man of simple needs. Like many in my family, Dad always seems happiest with a glass of wine and an open sky. I think of many sunsets on his back porch overlooking Table Rock, the throes of light burning the dusky horizon, and I always see a smile on his face.
I have always been a "mama's boy", a fact I have never been ashamed to admit. There is no one I admire or aspire to be more than my mother, for various reasons. Often, though, I see a lot of my father in me.
My relationship with both of my parents has been tumultuous, mostly because of me. This is a fact that I only recently have come to realize. Call me a slow learner. With Ma, it came during my high school years. With Pa, it was a slower burn. Fortunately, I have grown up. Thirty years young, I can see now that I have the interests of my father and the personality of my mother.
I can see and admire Dad's love for the simple things. I feel my face transform into his when I skip a rock on a lake or roll the windows down in my car. I hear my father's laugh in mine, all the more similar when reminiscing our distant childhoods. I can taste the joy out of a simple farmer's meal of steak and potatoes.
I've pondered a lot, recently in particular, about my aging dreams. I have refocused my goals on life outside of work, and have devoted much time (perhaps too much time) to attaining them. I jokingly have referred to my past couple of years as my Thoreau period. I have appreciated my long jaunts into natural solitude, more than just about anything else. My gratitude for the natural wonders of this ridiculous little world has increased immensely. Part of me has known these things all along. I remember fondly my transcendental moments, always alone, always staring at things so simple that words are too complicated to describe them appropriately.
I wonder why it is now that I am understanding this appreciation for simplicity. During discussions with some friends here and everywhere, a theme has emerged. I finally have grown up.
With my focus so sternly on reaching my occupational goal(s), I often stubbornly avoided my personal ones. Previous desires to take an extra day to take in the glimpses outside of everyday cacophony were rejected with strict impunity. Today, I am filled with regret at such youthful one-dimensionality.
Life is short, and it can be simple. My father tried to teach me, perhaps with the same youthful stubbornness that envelops me still. When I see him smiling at a fish jumping in the lake, or a motorcycle roaring by on the lonely highway, his lifelong lecture finally makes sense. I am born and bred from people of simple needs. A friend of mine recently remembered something her father told her. "The young seek complexity. The old seek simplicity." Maybe calling my father an "old man" was not such an insult after all.
Earlier this evening, I saw a father with his two young children walking out from a movie. One of the children said, "Can we see it again?" The father said: "Sure. In a few years." I think I know what he meant.