I have been triply blessed in my life to have had a wonderful father, step-father, and father-in-law. Only my step-father remains on the planet, but the relationship with all three is vital, evolving, and very much alive. My relationship with my father was complicated in many ways, partly because he developed early onset dementia when I was still quite young. He didn’t know who I was by the time I was fifteen. As heart-rending as that was I know it was a necessary part of my human evolution. I know it was part of a bigger picture. I have had numerous opportunities in my life to find resolution with that pain. Two of those opportunities have included my relationships with my step-father and with my father-in-law.
My father-in-law could be described as, for the sake of brevity, quite a character. Wonderful in so many ways. I had never known anyone like him, and most likely never will again. He was for me a study in paradox. He could recite the entire mass in Latin, and cuss like a drunken sailor. We were ideologically at separate ends of the spectrum. And yet there was a place where we met that was filled with love and mutual respect. It was instantaneous upon our meeting.
One of his favorite sayings would be his way of putting a period on a conversation or as a framing of a conflict with no apparent resolution. “Awe, maybe it’ll happen tonight.” It was, to my understanding, a vague reference to the possibility that it could all end tonight. World war, or individual passing. Sometimes he would listen, with obvious bemusement, to fussing about some perceived problem. After a perfectly timed pause Dad would chime in, “awe, maybe it’ll happen tonight.”
As many times as I have giggled over this quirky Dad-quip there is also great wisdom in it. When I find myself caught in the web of some story I am weaving I am often now graced with the echo of Dad’s answer. It puts a pause in my story-telling. It interrupts my drama just long enough to reframe what meaning I may be applying to what is happening.
How much life-force am I feeding into my worry, concern, and story? In the scope of a day, week, month, or year is it worth that life-force? Do I want to energize and expand what I am placing my attention into? If “it” really were to happen tonight, is this how I want to spend my final hours on this earth?
I want to live this day in the awareness that it could indeed happen tonight. I want to bring a quality of attention to my moments that is intimate, vital, curious, and embracing. I want to really see what I am looking at and relate wakefully to all that is. I want to interact with you as if this maybe it. And indeed, in my life that has been true countless times.
How would you live and spend your moments this day if it were embraced and wrapped in the awareness that maybe it could happen tonight? Thanks, Dad.