Play BIG: What Showed Up On My Recent (51st) Birthday?


Who/what really matters to you?  Who/what is the true focus of how you show up and travel in life? Who/what is the focus of your existence?  For me, it is my children.

It matters to me how well I am doing in relation to caring for my children. The voice within is highly critical of how well I am doing as a father: I find that I never live up to it’s standard of what constitutes a good father.

So how well am I doing as a father on the central project of my life: bringing up my children so that they feel accepted, loved, valued and care for/consider others not just themselves?  I share with you, and leave tracks in the sands of time, the report cards that my children issued to me on my recent birthday celebration.

Rohan: First Born

Birthday Card From Rohan“I wish you a happy birthday and I love you very much. I want to say thank you very much for helping me and supporting me with everything. And especially with my application for BP. You have done more than I could expect from anyone. I thank you for the physio treatment as this will help, hopefully, with the pain.

Thank you, Rohan”

 

Marco: Second Born

BdayCardMarco“Dear Papa,

I wish you a relaxing birthday being surrounded by all your family. I can’t believe your 51!

Thank you for all the times you have been kind to me, given me advice and support, and a huge supply of hugs. I enjoy spending time with you in the evenings after work and just sharing fruit together. With you and me, the little things like that are the big things.

I want you to know that I feel loved and accepted by you and I know that you care and worry about me a lot.

I want you to know that I love you lots and appreciate you being there for me.

You’re also one in a million and couldn’t ask for dad that’s as crazy and funny as you!!!

P.S. I have given you some money so that you can give money to people on Kiva.

Love,

Marco”

 Clea: Last Born

BdayCardClea“Dear Papa

Happy Birthday.

Firstly, I would like to take the time to tell you just how much I love you!

Honestly, you mean the world to me. I love how you are always there, even if it’s just after school and you ask me how my day was. Or just being able to sit down and watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer with you. It MAKES MY DAY!

The last year I think we have really become close with each other. The truth is that you and me are a team, a bit like the 3 musketeers – but there is only two of us. We face the world together!

Papa, you are the best advice giver, the best thinker, the best everything! But most of all the best dad. I love you to bits. No words could describe, no images could show you just much your brain continues to amaze me, your sooooooo smart, which can get annoying when you prove me wrong!

I am proud to be your daughter and to carry the Iqbal family name. When I’m older and I get married, trust me, the guy will have to change his last name because I’m keeping Iqbal.

Papa, you are my safety net, when I fall somehow you arms catch me – which is good because I fall a lot! It seems that you are always there for me. No matter how hard I might push you away, you always come fighting your way back. As I mention fighting, you should know that even when we fight and argue, I still love you. That includes all the slamming of doors, shouting and screaming, loud angry music.

When I am older I want to be just as kind and loving as you are. Your heart is so big it stretches across Africa.

I love you papa, I love you, I love you, I love you, don’t forget it.

Clea”

Sophia: One Who I Have Adopted As A Daughter

BdayCardSophia“To Maz,

Thank you for everything you have done for me in the past year. Even though we don’t always talk, I know no matter what, you’ll always be there for me & that you do love me. It tok me a while to believe it but I definitely do now.

I also want you to know, though it is hard for me to say it, I do love you.

Hope you have a really good birthday! …..

Lots of love,

Sophia”

What is it that I wish to say to my children?

Your existence, and my role in it, grants me a powerful sense of meaning and purpose. Your existence contributes to my existence: you enrich my existence.  I love each of you.

And Finally

It occurs to me that this year’s birthday celebration was a special one. Why? For the first time, I planned out my birthday celebration, I invited the folks around the table, I did all the cooking, and I did all the washing up.  This may not be milestone for many. It is for me. Why?  Because it is was not to long ago that my being did not include cook. Now it does. By taking on the project of cooking I have expanded by being. I have grown older, am one year closer to death, yet my sense of self (as a source of contribution/power to make a difference) has grown, not diminished.

Is this real love?


After watching the film The Impossible I found myself to have been affected rather profoundly.  Put differently, I found myself to be ‘all shaken up’.

What shook me was the humanity that showed up in that devastation, that suffering. What showed up for me was how little of a contribution that I am making in the world. What shook me up was the level of pain that is in the world and what little I do to help my fellow wo/man in being with / dealing with pain/suffering.  In short, I showed up for myself as a failure.  Perhaps, even a hypocrite.

So I found myself with tears running down my face. Being with what was so I found myself tired/exhausted. And, I feel asleep in the lounge whilst getting hugs from daughter and one of the sons.

Some hours later I woke up and  looked at the coffee table that was next to me.  What did I find?  I found a box of tissues and this note:

Clea I love you 1This note cheered me up.  I was touched by the love of daughter for me.  Then as I got up off the sofa that I was lying on and made my way to the mantlepiece I found my glasses and the following:

Clea I love you 2By now I was deeply touched.  It occurred to me that perhaps I have not failed to be/make the kind of contribution that I say I am committed to making.  Perhaps, just perhaps, I may be a decent human being doing.  This cheered me up.

As I looked around the room and specifically the dining table I found some stuff.  I wondered why that stuff was there.  Who had put it there and why?  Then I moved closer to the table  and found this waiting for me:

Clea I love you 3

At this point I found myself laughing out loud.  Why? I was totally present to the love that exists between daughter and myself.  It occurred to me that real love exists between daughter and me.  In that space I got that I matter, I make a difference. And as long as my living makes a difference to even one being then my life is not wasted. Nor am I failure.  It occurred to me that the future is wide open to being invented and lived for as long as I have this gift of a life – including the love that I am blessed with.

As I made my way around the rest of the house – the kitchen, the stairs, the bathroom, I found more notes from daughter saying the same “I love you! from Clea”. And in that moment, I got that this is real love.  I got how blessed I am and in getting that I found my being transformed: I straightened up, I was taller, a positive outlook gripped me, smiles and joy were present….

 

Dearest Clea, my message for you on your 12th birthday


Dearest Clea

On this day, your 12th birthday, I want you to know that love is present between you and me.  I do not choose to love you; love simply flows when I am with you or when I think of you.

I want you to know that you show up in my world like sunshine: you illuminate my life, you brighten my life, you turn up and there is joy present and a spring in my footstep and in my soul.

I want you to know that you show up as simply amazing!  I am amazed at how loving, how caring, how compassionate, how wise you are.  And I have to pinch myself to get present to the fact that you are only 12 years old.   Please know that I am so proud of you.

I want you to know that you can count on me to be here as both a stand for you to show up as great and make an awesome contribution to a ‘world that works, none excluded’. And you can count on me to be your safety net as you walk the tightropes in your life.  I say that you can count on me no matter what.  I say that you can share with me whatever you have to share with me no matter what.  I say that you can count on me to love you no matter what.

Twelve years ago a surprise came into my life, the best surprise that has ever showed up in my life.  You are that surprise.  And I am so grateful that you exist and that it is my privilege to be a father unto you and have you show up as a daughter unto me.

Now please handover your iPod touch – you have been staying up late and today you did not get up on time and I had to wake you.  You broke our agreement and I insist the price be paid.  You can count on me to give it back to you after seven days.  That is the way life works – there are always consequences, and they catch up with you sooner or later.

And finally, I thank you for the kindness that you have shown me and the joy that you have brought and continue to bring to my experience of living!

Your daddy (“Cuddly Bear”)

What is the being of a father?


Musings on being a father

To father is simply to plant the seeds of a new life. It takes nothing to father.

Whereas to be a father is lifelong commitment to another life entered into voluntarily knowing that on the journey both joy and pain/sorrow will show up.  That is just what is so: in real life a rose without thorns simply does not show up – I have never encountered one.

To be a father is to choose to be responsible for another life.

To be father is to live the art of ‘loose’ and ‘tight’ – to allow freedom within boundaries and to act when boundaries are exceeded.

To be father is be opening  to being moved-touched-inspired-upflited by the child and learning from the child as well as moving-touching-inspiring-uplifting the child and encouraging learning.

To be father is to get that the child is not an adult in training – the child is just that a child and granting the child the freedom to be a child.

To be father is not to preach (that is easy and every fool does that), it is to live/model a life that moves-touches-inspires-uplifts the child.

To be father is to model both strength and vulnerability – showing that one goes with the other as do two sides of the coin.

To be a father is to be ok with saying/admitting “I don’t know, I don’t have the answers.”

To be a father is to accept and step into the process of letting go and let the child become wo/man.

To be a father is to model accepting and then handling that which shows up – wanted or unwanted in life.

To be a father is to be loving.

Fathers Day Card from Clea

Sometimes it occurs to me that I am doing fine at being the kind of father that I am up for being.  At other times it occurs to me I am/have failed so badly.  Neither is true – it is simply what shows up like the wind, sometimes calm and sometimes a gust.  To be a father is to wonder if you are getting it right and be open to encouragement!

 

 

The difference between children and adults


It has snowed heavily and brought many parts of the UK to a standstill.  And it has been interesting to watch how different people have reacted differently to the snow.

Clea, 10 years old, got all dressed up in her ski clothes, searched out her friends who live next door and got busy playing in the snow.  I saw her embracing the snow literally: she was rolling around in the snow and scooping it up.  To her snow occurred as an opportunity to be with friends and play: a gift, an adventure!

My wife, Aldine, is an optimist.  So it was no surprise that even when there was a severe weather she got herself and the children in the car on Saturday morning and drove up to get to her friend Analia’s home.  She did not make it there yet she can hold up her head high.  In the end she is the one that chose not to drive at 25mph and thus face a six-hour journey.

I, being a pragmatic fellow, decided that the snow and cold was a great opportunity to do all the stuff that I had put off – like the accounts and the tax returns.  And to pick up and read a book on swarm behaviour – something that I find interesting.  My approach is best described as: why take the risk when I do not have to take the ris.  Has that been the stance that I have taken in life?  Choosing to be safe, to be comfortable?  In some areas, yes.

Looking more broadly, I notice that adult conversation (especially the media) has been around control.  The snow has disrupted the bubble of control that we take for granted and the adults have not liked that one little bit.  So the conversation has been full of complaint – primarily about those that govern us and their inability to control the world, to bend it to our needs.

Interestingly there has been more indignation and complaint around the country coming to a standstill then there has been about the banks bringing the country to its knees.  There is has been more complaint about being stuck, not being able to get out, to go on holiday then there has been about government policy that has resulted in tens of thousands of people being killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It seems that the wonder of children is that they embrace the new, the unknown, and dance with life.  This contrasts sharply with adults who like to stick to the known – a world that runs smoothly, like clockwork, and renders no surprises.  Is it any wonder that so many of us adults are so bored?