Father's day is coming up and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some significant advice my Dad gave me while I was growing up. My Dad and I have never had a perfect relationship to say the least, but one thing I can say about my father is that he has always been a deep and philosophical thinker. We can go from talking about a song we like, to talking about how amazing a sunset is. While this annoyed me as a kid, it is something I admire about him now, the ability to see far beyond what is in front of you and not taking the small things in your life for granted. This trait I have, I think came came from him.
The most valuable advice I received from my Dad happened on a Saturday when I was about 15 or 16. I would've rather been sleeping in, but was instead woken up by my Dad to mow the lawn. Annoyed, I got up and threw on the most raggy clothes I could find and went to cut the front lawn half-heartedly. My Dad came outside to check on me only a few mows in and stopped me right in my tracks. He wanted to give me a little advice. I sighed deeply as I turned off the power on the lawn mower to listen to what he had to say.
He noticed that as I was going back and forth with the mower, my lines in the grass were crooked. They swerved back and forth and I was missing some serious patches in the grass. He told me:
The secret to keeping a straight line is not to look down at where you are, but rather, to look forward at where you are going.
I rolled my eyes, said okay and cut the mower back on. My initial thought was “This doesn't make any sense. How will I know that I am doing it right if I cannot look down at myself.” (ugh I was so self absorbed; teenagers AMIRITE?)” But I figured I would try his method…so I could prove him wrong. I looked ahead and started mowing.
After a few lines I stopped and looked at my progress. Even in my moody and tired state, I had some of the straightest lines I had ever done in the grass. I was impressed with myself, and from that day on mowing grass went from being my most hated chore to something I took pride in doing every week. This event showed me that even the worst things, can become good things depending on how you decide to think about them. But that was not my biggest lesson learned that day.
I cut the grass now at my own house and actually enjoy it since I use the time when I cut to meditate. I find myself reciting this story over and over again in my head when I am mowing the lawn. Not just because this is how you get the best damn looking grass in the neighborhood, but because this mantra of looking ahead, not at where you are is how I live my life. I am a futuristic thinker, and while I do think about the realities of today, my mind is future focused. I think about the things I want in my life, the goals I want to achieve, and how much better I can make my own world if I just keep looking ahead.
To my Dad I want to say thank you for giving me this advice that I not only applied to the lawn but to my entire life. It is hard to see how much privilege you have when you are growing up, because you just have not seen enough of the world to know any better. I can say that I have not seen it all, but have seen enough to know that even some of the most difficult times in my childhood has been a blessing.
To those of you out there who are trying to decide what to get your father for Father's Day, I say the best gift is genuine gratitude for the things they did to make you a stronger and capable being in the world. Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there, I hope it is a memorable one.