RCS - Thinking Out Loud
"At the moment of commitment, the universe will conspire to assist you." - John Paul Sartre
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Choices and Consequences in all Things...
“Choices and consequences in all things” is a phrase of which I am very fond. Many of my friends and relatives will tell you that I often use it to express the sentiment that most things in our lives come about as the direct or indirect result of our choices. I suppose that by exercising my choice to mention it, I might have angered those same people on more than one occasion. Still, I wouldn’t be me if I were willing to lie when people ask my opinion. Of course, those of you who read me didn’t ask my opinion but, by choosing to read, I suppose you’ve given me tacit consent to express it.
Each of us makes choices – most of us, make several hundred per day. They are often unconscious - things like getting out of bed, or going to work. But then, even those unconscious choices have their basis in conscious choice. We often choose to react or respond based upon habits born out of our own experience and that of our families and the culture of our society and the various social groups in which we live. Each of us is the culmination of the choices we and others have made on our behalf - so then, each choice matters. What determines whether a choice is good or bad?
Certainly perspective plays a roll. Would not a moralist make different choices than a criminal? Would either be more correct than the other? It depends on your perspective and where your individual sympathies lie. There are certainly choices that most, if not all, people would consider to be good or bad. Such qualifications are made based on the results or consequences of a given choice – the proof is in the pudding after all. Our parents knew this little secret and tried, often in vane, to get us to think about the consequences of our actions. Far too often I, and I suspect some of you, have failed to consider the consequences of my choices. Years ago, I cut my hair to get a promotion I thought I wanted at work. I spent a decade working for that company in various positions only to discover that it wasn’t anything like I’d thought it would be. I quit, and decided to become a musician. I’m growing it back out – in effect choosing to exempt myself from choosing to go back to the life I hated.
What I’ve failed to realize, more often than not, is that life is always complicated but the choices need not be. Making the right decision, each decision, one at a time is not really so much hard as it is scary. You see making the right choice implies both a faith that you’ve made the right choice and a willingness to live with the consequences. I’ve chosen to sabotage myself, and my dreams many times over the years. However, this has taught me to trust my inspiration and trust that the right answer will present itself if I’m diligent and patient. I’ve been ignoring my inspiration lately - something that has proven to be a path to unhappiness for me. Life is too short to spend all of your time chasing something other than your dreams.
The justifications for making the wrong choices are legion. My favorite these days is the need to take care of my kids. I’ve been trying to convince myself, and my lovely wife that I need to drop out of school and get a job to help her provide for the family. In truth, she makes enough money to support us if we live frugally. She and I are not that good at frugal living however. This is, of course, yet another series of choices the consequences of which include one of us needing to work harder to support our chosen lifestyle. I’m not willing to choose to have my wife out of the house more often – we need her here. That being said, I’m trying to figure out how to generate $200/wk so that she doesn’t have to.
In the end, I will probably end up working part time somewhere. Hopefully, I can get a job in music somehow. I must continue to work to be the best musician I can be so that I can make money doing what I love. Life, I think, is too damn short not to work towards something that matters. Healthy, happy, well adjusted children tend to come from healthy, happy, well adjusted parents. I want my kids to understand in a real way that their dreams are possible. I want them to learn the dedication and focus it takes to see those dreams to fruition. I want them to feel ok setting out on their own and to not feel as though they have to work for someone else doing something they hate for the rest of their lives. I choose to model this for them and for myself.
Cher is going back to school this spring. She’ll be going part time, about 8 credit hours during the day while the kids are at school. What makes me most happy is that she’s taking art classes – something she’s always wanted to do. She too is pursuing her dreams! This is exciting to me because she is one of those people who never does anything for herself. She feels bound to care for us, her family and does so at great expense to herself. So, Cher going to school is a big deal and I’m so proud of her! Can you imagine if everyone on earth felt free to follow their passion? What a different world this would be! We are taught, from the beginning to work, to compete, to sacrifice for others – that our own happiness is secondary.
The following “unselfishness trap” was first described to me via the writings of Harry Browne as part of my ethics class this semester. Consider for a minute the idea that happiness is a red rubber ball. Now contemplate a completely unselfish group of people who are only interested in the happiness of others. If one member of this group came into possession of the ball he or she would quickly pass it on to another who would in turn pass it on to another and so on. No one would really be happy because they would always be giving happiness to others. So then, when we give no thought to our own happiness, we are not happy. Are we not then of maximum utility to ourselves and others when we are happy and doing what we love?
I think the answer is yes. I think we owe an obligation to ourselves, our families, and the people in our lives to use the gifts we have to pursue our passions. I think that in doing so, we all benefit. I think that if more people would quit their meaningless jobs and start working at whatever fires their passions, we would advance as a society at an exponential rate socially, technologically, and artistically. I choose to believe that a life spent in the pursuit of dreams and passion is the only life worth living for it is by that example that we all gain the faith to dare to try for something better. I choose to try.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
05.11.09 - Life Update
Well folks, it’s been another interesting week at la casa de Seifert. Cher’s parents came by once again bearing gifts – this time, three toilet stools and a Maytag gas dryer. The toilets were more efficient than those that were already installed so that should save us about $0.05/month (ok, probably more but I’m dubious). The dryer has not yet been tested so I have no comment on it save that I have no idea how to plumb a gas line safely so it will likely sit there until the next time the in-laws are in town. Anyway, on the last night of their visit, Cher had to work.
I got a call on my cell perhaps 15min after she had gone. She’d crashed her car. She was scared, hurt, and having an asthma attack. I told her I’d be there as soon as I could get there. I immediately went to her dad and whispered in his ear that Cher had just been in an accident and that she was ok and that she thought the car was totaled. My thinking was to avoid upsetting the children unnecessarily… He stood up immediately, looking scared, and said, “Is she ok!” I wheeled on him and told him she was ok and to keep it down – that I didn’t want to panic the kids. Thankfully, he did. I made my excuses and headed out.
When I got there, I found Cher standing by the side of the road looking scared and shaken but whole. She was still having difficulty breathing. I made her sit down and after finding her inhaler, got her breathing somewhat normally. I noticed at the time that she was a little out of it. It took the police almost 30 minutes to get there after I arrived. No ambulance or fire truck responded. We sat around and waited for the tow truck to clear the scene and for all the interviews to complete. By that time, her adrenaline was beginning to wear off and she was starting to feel the pain. I exchanged information with all of the other parties involved as Cher, by this time, was way out of it. I then took her to the emergency care clinic.
The security guard was the best. He grabbed a wheel chair and hauled her into the clinic while I parked the truck. We got in after a brief wait. By this time, she was having difficulty maintaining temperature and was visibly shivering. The doc did an assessment and was visibly concerned. Cher was intermittently able to answer her questions and her pupils were very sluggish. Being concerned about a head injury, the doc ordered an ambulance to take her downtown to a real hospital for x-rays and a CT scan. I began to get concerned at this point. I followed the ambulance downtown all the while praying my ass off (don’t worry folks, I still have plenty left). I also took the time to call the house and give them an update. I’m sure my steady, concerned, serious tone didn’t help but it was all I could do to communicate rationally at that point.
We arrived at St. Joseph’s, the hospital where Cher was born. sometime around 9:30pm. When I got to her room, I could instantly tell she was more lucid and began to let down a bit and allow myself to believe she was going to be ok. They wheeled her out for 50minutes worth of x-rays which left me too much time to sit and think. It’s in those times that you realize just how much someone matters to you and how much you’d miss them if they were gone. I’m a lucky man. By the time they brought her back, I was nearly frantic – but there she was, banged up, but just fine. It was such a relief.
Timing being everything, it was about this time that a certain female EMT got back from break and got assigned to help Cher to the bathroom. I have never seen such a lack of bedside manner in my life. My wife, who can barely stand, gets up by herself with no help from the EMT. I ask the EMT if she needs my help, she says no. As my wife is leaving, I tell her to be careful and looking at the EMT say, “there’s absolutely no way she’ll catch you if you start to go down.” So they shuffle off to the bathroom. She comes back carrying a cup of urine which the EMT has refused to carry. Upon arrival, the EMT makes a show of gloving BOTH hands to take the sample from Cher. It was about that time that I began talking loudly about this sorry excuse for an EMT. I don’t know if she received any disciplinary action but she damn well should have.
They released Cher at around 11pm and I took her home. Her parents were relieved to see her up under her own power. We got her to bed and, after a mostly sleepless night, she got up for breakfast. I knew in my gut that I should have gotten up with her, but I didn’t. Her dad spent most of the morning trying to pick a fight with her about how stupid she had been to total her car and how it wasn’t worth anything and how we weren’t going to get shit back from the insurance. If I’d been up, I wouldn’t have responded to this very well. It’s good that I didn’t hear about it until after the fact. Apparently, this is all part of the script. When he gets scared or concerned he demonstrates that concern by being a jerk. He even had the gall to grouse about the rental car I picked out for Cher.
I got the nicest car I could that met the allowance set for by the insurance company – a brand new Nissan Altima. My thinking was that she’d just totaled her car and that she deserved to have something nice to comfort her while she was recuperating. Anyway, he was not happy about it and said so letting the air out of her balloon. What is it with people who cannot allow others even a little room to breath? I held my tongue although I’m not certain that I should have. They left that afternoon.
After that the flu took over. Jordon was first. He threw up a couple of hours after dinner as we were leaving WalMart. Thankfully, he got the door of the car open and threw up outside the car. A nice lady gave him a peppermint to calm his tummy. The next one to get it was Josh who has not been able to keep anything down since Saturday morning. Jade was next, then Corwin and Caitlin, me, and now little Mackenzie. Cher has thankfully escaped. Even my sister got the flu this weekend. As such, family night was very subdued this week. E, Cher, and I sat around and talked and listened to music.
It looks like the car is junk. She hated that car anyway. We’ll get her a new one. Cher will continue to get better and the rest of us are on the mend. I got most of the week off of school. Life continues on it’s own terms and as always, I’m trying to get with the program.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Happy 9th Birthday Corwin!!!
Today marks the beginning of the 9th year of my son Corwin. Happy Birthday Corwin! The photograph is a bit dated but it's the only one I had on hand. You can find more recent pix of him on the photoblog he's the taller blond boy with the scrunchy face - he was in a mood that day... He’s home sick today. I wish I was there with him. I’m at school, like I am so often these days. I elected to skip my first class this morning as I wasn’t prepared to attend having not read the material we were to be discussing. I’m reminiscing about the first year or so of Corwin’s life. He was born Caesarean section after a lengthy labor. I remember being terrified that I might lose both his mother and he in the process. I sucked it up and ventured into the ER to watch them cut, pry, and pull him into this world. It was fascinating. Because he didn’t benefit from a trip down the birth canal, he had a significant amount of fluid on his lungs and had to be kept under observation for the first few hours of his life. He screamed so loud in frustration and anger that we could hear him all the way down the hall some thirty or forty yards from the nursery. He screamed like that for hours.
He was a big baby and could mostly hold his head up from birth. When we finally got to hang out with him, he was very sweet and calm. He knew instinctively how to nurse and went to town. He was one hell of an eater. He used to eat 64oz of breast milk in 12hrs. For that first year, I stayed home and took care of him. We played, he slept in my arms or on my chest most days. I made the mistake of letting him sleep there when I had my shirt off only once. Suffice is to say, I didn’t have what he was looking for… Chuckle… He grew fast and was advanced in his development learning to walk and talk very early. He was not usually much trouble though I woke up one day to find that he’d taken a permanent black marker to the hardwood floor, TV, and entertainment center. I rubbed my eyes, made certain of what I’d seen and then stumbled back to bed to tell my ex-wife that she’d better handle this one – thankfully she did.
Now he’s getting big – too big for hugs and kisses. He’ll still snuggle up occasionally but it’s a very sly, gradual thing. Now he’s obsessed with video games and competitions. He loves to be rowdy and chase around the house. He’s gained a big brother out of Cher and I’s marriage who he alternately idolizes and is angry with for the demands a 14yr old can place on a little brother. It’s toughened him up a lot. He, like his father, has a big heart and is hurt easily. He’s obsessed with being right much like I was and/or am. He’s generally happy though sometimes very moody. When he’s upset, he likes to isolate and work it out on his own again, much like me.
Children are a blessing like no other. Sure they’re challenging. Sure you want to choke the life out of them occasionally. They demand that you show up even when you’re not in the mood. They force you to look at your own strengths and weaknesses on a daily basis. They make you work to be the best you can be. They need your care and attention at every turn. I wish for my son a happy healthy life full of adventure and peace of mind. I want him to be whatever he wants to be. I want him to be a man people admire and respect. I don’t want him to grow up so fast. But then, what more can I do but show up everyday to the best of my ability and show him by example what and how to be, hold him accountable to his responsibilities, give him hugs, praise him for doing well, and correct him when he’s wrong? The rest is in his hands and I know he’ll do what he needs to do to get wherever he’s going. I just feel privileged to walk with him through this portion of his journey. I love you son!