Do you have your barf bag ready? Excellent. This is the post where I admit I am a huge, unrepentant Daddy’s Girl.
For most of my early adult life, my dad had a pretty easy time being my dad. (Although he did have to pay for my college tuition.) I was on a ladder of achievement, which I climbed with no real difficulty. Not the super achievement ladder, mind you. But I graduated from an acceptable college, didn’t get in trouble, pursued a career track, received some promotions, met my husband, lived abroad, traveled and got married. It was an average American story, I suppose. Dad understood the narrative and I stayed with the plot.
Then the narrative stalled and moved into unfamiliar territory. I got pretty sick and went on disability for a few months. After recovering from that, Darcy and I tried to build a family. That storyline, complete with many sobbing phone calls to dad, visits from him to try to teach me how to adapt to this new adversity, fertility treatments, a miscarriage, 3 IVF attempts and a very high-risk scary pregnancy, did end happily. But I don’t think I would have maintained my sanity through it without the consistent, wise, unwavering advice of my father.
Through his job, my dad met presidents, royalty, famous authors, billionaires, heroes, villains and even Barbra Streisand. (She kept him waiting for 14 hours. He’s still pissed.) He narrowly escaped death or injury a few times. He won awards. He was there when the occupation of Alcatraz was planned. My dad is COOL.
But he’s also down-to-earth and not easily impressed. His focus has always been his family, so much so that he turned down a job at one of the most prestigious employers in the world. Why? Because we would have had to move to NYC and it would have interrupted my school mid-term. He always wanted stability for me, because stability was not something he knew as a child.
He still wishes me stability, so he has been urging me to follow the Stoics. I am about as far away from a Stoic as is possible. I somewhat resemble Chicken Little. Once there was a tsunami warning for lower coastal areas and I packed up the car and headed for the hills, only to realize that I lived on the BAY, not the ocean and the tsunami wasn’t coming for me. Now that I am a mother, those Chicken Little urges are even stronger. What’s that mark, what’s that cough, etc. I am FEARFUL.
The Stoics want me to embrace fear. Seneca, the key Stoic, actually said: “There is no reason to believe that anything should be feared.” Come again? That is impossible for me to believe. But something else he wrote makes sense:
“There are more things in this world…likely to frighten us than to crush us. We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”
Or, as my dad puts it, “Don’t borrow trouble.”
More to come…all quotes come from The Stoic Art of Living, Inner Resilience and Outer Results, by Tom Morris.