Let’s get this out of the way at the very beginning. There are no perfect fathers, just like there are no perfect children. That could be the end of the blog post right here. In fact for some of you, “father’s day” doesn’t exactly fill your heart with warmth. It may even bring back pain, anger, grief and hurtful memories. And yet, allow me share a bit of my personal story with you.
I was fortunate to be raised, and influenced, by three wonderful men who played tremendous father figures in my life. My birth Dad, my Uncle whose family I spent fourteen wonderful years from third grade on, and my Uncle’s brother in the USA whose family pretty much adopted me from the moment I landed in the USA for graduate studies. All three of these men played roles in my life, most of which I did not understand until I became a Dad myself.
All my Dads taught me more about sacrifice and grace in motion, than I could possibly hope to learn by myself. And this was all before I had ever read a single word of my ’spiritual guides’ like Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Yogananda, Ramakrishna, and more. Perhaps I was too busy taking notes in my heart about what my ‘real Dads’ were trying to teach me with their lives. Over the years, one by one, they all went to the eternal flame, as all mortals do. In their passage, they each left me with a hidden challenge — to keep their flame in motion in the world around me.
I became aware of the challenge when I was presented with the gift to raise my own. In the process, In raising her, I gained greater understanding that I was really raising myself in small ways every day. Could my daughter be raising me through direct experience of empathy, kindness and listening? Could it also be that the tough challenge of raising me had helped raised my Dads in some way?
Psychologists stress upon the critical role of ‘fathers’ in their children’s lives, but what if the ‘fathers’ are resentful or afraid of the role presented to them? It is hard enough for willing and dedicated Dads to ‘do raising right’, so one can imagine the challenges of those who feel unprepared or unwilling. In such cases, could the role of ‘raising’ be done more effectively by teachers, mentors, willing relatives, spiritual guides and more?
There are no easy answers, because no matter how much we talk about ‘simplicity’, life is messy and complicated. The best advice that I got from my Dads was that they gave very little advice, if any at all. They left the door open for me to figure it out on my own because they had no way of forecasting what I would be facing when doing my own ‘raising’. If anything, my Dads’ best ‘advice’ was in the kindness with which they all treated their family, friends, guests, and those who asked them for help.
The older I get, the wiser my Dads’ life lessons seem to get. I have a ways to go on my journey, and yet I know that they, and my guides, are raising me up every time I stumble and fall. I also know that there is a loving energy in the universe that raises you too. I hope you believe the same.
P.S. Join our #SpiritChat community in our weekly twitter chat, Sunday June 20 at 9amET / 630pm India. We will talk about Fathers, imperfections, and raising each other on our path. I will bring the usual goodies and questions. I hope you join us – @AjmaniK
The three who raised me… they show up often in nature…