Today is my father's 58th birthday. Earlier this week I was this comic came across my news feed. It reminded me of him. He was honest with us. If we screwed up, we knew it. But he also made sure that we knew that we are special to him. Being special to the people that love you isn't enough to get through the world though. You learn by doing things. Failure and being told "No" are part of real life. Sucking is still sucking even if it's the best you can do. Your only choice is to make your best better.
There's an ethic that he instilled in me and my brother. The desire to understand not just what, but why. And the desire to hunt down answers to things we don't know. His answers to questions like "What does this word mean?" or "How do birds know which direction to fly when they migrate?" was often "Look it up." Although it's easier to do now, there's a bit of a loss of the accidental discovery. Looking up a word online gives you that word. Looking it up in a dictionary gives you that word and all the words around it. He also encouraged us to take things apart. To look inside and to ask questions. He knew that you couldn't always rely on other to teach you, but if you knew where to look, you could always teach yourself.
I didn't realize until recently that there was something else he did for us. The normal rules were relaxed in the pursuit of discovery. I could ride my bike to the library long before I was allowed to go that far for anything else. Bedtime was later when Dr. Who and Nova were on. To this day, I steal books from him. And music. I was raised with what's now considered a "hacker" or "maker" ethic. If you want to know how something works, take it apart. If you want something new, make it. If you want to understand something, do it yourself. Sometimes, just once, but the knowledge stays with you.
So for my dad, on his birthday, I'd like to offer a new take on the Serenity Prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to ignore the things I cannot fix,
The tools to fix the things I can
And the wisdom to know just because someone tells you it's one of those, doesn't mean they're right.
Thanks, Dad for helping me get a "proper education."
Now... about that ice cream.