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.

Son, is this who I am? Let me be truthful with myself and with you


A birthday card that makes me cry!

This month we celebrated my birthday and as usual the question was “What do you want for your birthday?”.  As usual my answer was “I am blessed, I don’t need anything.  Really, I don’t need anything.  What I’d like is heartfelt, handmade card from you to me.”  And that is what I got.  The one that really captured my heart is this one:

When I read this card for the first time I was deeply touched and moved to tears.  Every time I read this card I am deeply touched – the tears just flow down my cheeks.  Great, this card makes me feel good.  The deeper, more interesting, question, for me, is this one: “Is it true?  Is this an accurate description of me?”

Who am i?

I am clear that “i” does not live up to the picture that my son paints.  What do I mean by “i”?  What / who am I pointing at/towards?  When I use the term “i” I am pointing at the automatic machinery of human beings.  The machinery that is always there, always running, and which runs me.  What are the characteristics of this machinery, this “i”?  In my case I associate the following with my “i”: selfish, critical, safety seeking, negative, impatient, intolerant, aggressive, unhelpful, manipulative, looking for approval, seeking admiration, lying, pretense, cowardly, focussed on me, me, me and my survival.  Not a flattering picture is it?  Yet, if I am to accept the picture painted by my son it occurs to me that I must also be present to and mindful of this aspect of me.

Who am I?

I am clear that who I am is not “i”.  That is to say that I am clear that I am not my automatic machinery – the “i”.   I am clear that I am the conscious, self-determining being, who declares that I am the author of my life.  I am the person who totally gets “At all times, under all circumstances, I have the power to transform my life”.   I am clear that I am the person who has invented and entered myself into ‘playing BIG’ of living an ‘extraordinary’ life, of being of service, of being a source of contribution, of co-creating a ‘world that works’ none excluded.

What does that mean for me, my living, my life?

To show up as the kind of person that my son writes about, is proud of, and loves it takes something.  First, I have to be constantly mindful that the default condition of human existence is “i” and the game that goes with that ‘playing small’.  Second, I have to create myself as the “I” that is committed to be ‘playing BIG‘; living an ‘extraordinary’ life; being of service / contribution to my fellow human beings; putting something into life; being a stand for a ‘world that works’ none excluded.   Third, I have to keep “I” and the game that I is playing in existence.  And a fundamental part of keep “I” and the game I is playing in existence is telling the truth.

So here is my truth for you my son.  If I was as great as you say I am then your card would not mean anything to me.  My truth is that often and frequently I am not being the person that you describe and that you are proud of.  Yet, I am clear that my stand is to be the kind of person that you describe, that you are proud of, that you love.  And living from that context I am deeply touched by your card and the the small contribution I have made to your life.  Your act of kindness towards the beggar moves-touches me deeply and inspires me to be my Stand and play full out to be a source of contribution to you, our fellow human beings and Life itself.  And within that context, falling short of the mark encourages me redouble my Being and my effort.  I love you.