I ran across a blog I wrote a year-and-a-half ago when I was driving my daughter to Los Angeles for her first big move away from home. She was heading down on her own to try to break into the video production world. I never posted it, but ran across it recently while cleaning some old documents. Just wanted to share it. Here you go.
I had a remarkable experience today.
As a backdrop, my daughter is courageously moving to LA to pursue a career in film or video production. Yesterday we started the arduous journey across the western half of the country, resolving to make our way to Flagstaff before we stopped. Last night we pulled into the Quality Inn Flagstaff, exhausted but triumphant in achieving our goal. Before drifting off to sleep, she outlined our plan for the morning, of which a key part was my getting our foodstuffs organized. As a quick side note to fathers with young children - you will never imagine the feeling when you see your child taking complete control of their life.
So this morning I headed over to the little breakfast area to heat up some breakfast burritos my wonderful spouse had packed for us. Unfortunately there was no microwave available to guests, so I asked the older gentleman who was tending to the food if I could sneak into the back and use the microwave. His hair was askew and he was missing the majority of his front teeth. His clothing, while clean, had seen better days. What do we often do these cases? Smile, say “thank you” and go about our life. We subconsciously judge, I believe, that there is nothing to learn here, there is no benefit or value to be gained from investing time in knowing this person or understanding their perspective. I’m not suggesting we purposefully do this, it is just the way we have been conditioned to engage.
I stood in front of that microwave for what seemed like an eternity, trying to decipher the intricate series of commands required to start the wondrous magic of microwave technology. The older gentleman, Jose, walked up and revealed the sequence of buttons and we both laughed as we commiserated how technology often made our lives more complicated. “So, where are you headed?” he politely asked. That one simple question sparked a wonderful, engaging discussion that completely enriched me. We discovered we both had older daughters that had courageously struck out to make their way and had a similar set of contradictory feelings when our children had moved out of the house. The pride of your children becoming adults, tempered by the sadness of seeing them no longer need you so much.
He then shared with me the advice he had given his daughter and what he did when his daughter faced the inevitable ups and downs, and I will never forget it. His advice to his daughter? Work hard and don’t complain. When she had ups and downs? Listening but not making decisions for her. And always ending by letting her know he believed in her. Sage advice I have taken to heart.
As drove away, I was more than a little ashamed of myself as I thought a lot about that conversation and my initial judgement of Jose. I’m only human, but I hope it will stick with me for a long time so that I approach every human interaction with an open mind and spirit.