December 29, 2016
Year twenty-eight has been, to say the least, eventful.
A few important highlights for those of you who like lists (myself included):
Here’s some trivial memory highlights:
With all of the awesome stuff that has happened in year 28, the world around me seems to be in a strange, tense state.
This was easily the strangest political climate we’ve had in the U.S. since I was born. Of all the odd encounters with people I’ve had in my life, having a differing political opinion from another person creates one of the most palpable feelings of division that I’ve ever felt. I was out with my family in Dothan today. Coming out of a store, I saw a truck - and there is no exaggeration here - with the Christian flag, two Alabama “Roll Tide” flags, an American flag, a Trump flag, and I believe a confederate flag (although admittedly I was too dumbfounded to remember in perfect detail). And to be honest, it wasn’t that I have extremely different ideals from this person. I am fiscally conservative (though not a Trump supporter), and I confess faith as a Christian. But with my beliefs and perspectives, I cannot imagine what level of commitment or passion about my own beliefs I would have to have to fly that many flags, no matter what is on the face of it.
This was kind of a meandering rant, but I suppose my point is this - in a world where opinions of those closest to you can more easily than ever be extremely different, remember that it’s not your job to fly a flag, but instead to live amongst one another. This applies far less to the relationship between flag guy and me, and much more to my relationship with my own family members, friends, and colleagues who differ from me. Politically, culturally, even in taste - I’m learning that sharing my opinion is less valuable than learning the perspectives and opinions of others, and using that information to get closer and treat each other better. If you’re close to me, I love you first and foremost, and want to give you the best version of me that I have.
The times I’ve shared my opinion out of anger, frustration, or a sense of righteousness, I end up being overly preachy. I wouldn’t want to be around me in those moments. Conversely, when I share my opinion from a logical, critical perspective to better something, particularly in a professional setting, the opinion then holds value. But here’s the catch: in every scenario that my opinion was valuable, it was explicitly asked for. Lesson learned: don’t be quick to share an uninvited opinion.
I just watched Rogue One today. Quite good in my opinion. There are so many father references in Star Wars. Basically every movie has a pretty significant hinge on a father-son or father-daughter relationship. Some mother roles in there too.
I’m one of those. I’m a father. My own Dad looked at me tonight and said, “I can’t believe you’re going to be a Dad.” And honestly, I can’t either.
I usually am relatively composed, and I do a decent job interpolating basic advice for people who are well beyond my experience level, age, wisdom level, etcetera. However, when it comes to fatherhood, I am clueless. No experience, unless you’re counting uncle years.
So, my plan is to be good to my child. Be present. Challenge them to love learning even more than I do. To look at life with wonder and positivity, and to create more of what ought to be. To teach them conviction, and the importance of caring for others, and what it means to work hard, and play hard. I want to teach them how to be kind and compassionate to others, and tolerant and respectful. I want to help them develop their own belief, and pray for them to learn what it means to have faith and hope in Christ. I will show them that I love their mom, and teach them to love family.
But honestly, I know I will mess some of that up. I know I will say the wrong things sometimes, and that there will be bugs in my system from day one.
I hate diapers, by the way. Absolutely terrible with that kind of stuff. It’s not that I don’t want to do the work.
I’d stay up all night and rock a crying baby if it meant avoiding diaper duty. It makes absolutely no sense.
I do love my child. And I hope I get most of the stuff right. Maybe one day, they will get a chance to read this, and see how much I thought of them.
I’m up at 3AM writing this blog, mostly to get a chance to write something for you to read, little one.
A great year for me, but we’ve seen so many celebrities go before their time. Everyone’s complaining that 2016 is unusually bad, etc. I’m sure we’ve had a similar one before. Just Google it, no need to belabor the point. A good insight on a relevant reddit thread - perhaps it hits so hard because many of these folks were younger than average death age, and we are realizing the mortality of our own parents, and perhaps in turn our own mortality.
I have a penchant for finding reasons why I’m more healthy or less likely to die like that person did. Or, justify that they were really old, or somehow emotionally prepared to die, or that the statistics work more in my favor. Coping, or maybe valid reasoning, or a cocktail of both. Either way, it happens to us all at some point.
I hope when I’m gone, young or old, that those closest to me will adapt. I don’t want my absence to be a handicap, but rather my memory to be an inspiration. The next 28 years, if I am blessed to have it, I want to spend loving my wife, my children, my family, and those around me enough that every day could be my last, and I’d know I left it all out here and took no love to the grave.
A strangely dark turn to a birthday post. Let’s back out of this little black hole.
The 29th year begins at 7:30 tonight.
It’s not scientifically important, by the way - unless there’s some weird moon rhythm thing I don’t understand. It’s a step marker - a measuring stick. So we don’t lose our place.
For year 29, I don’t want to ignore that measuring stick one single day. Every day, I want to walk away from more thankful than the last.
This year was awesome. Did some super cool stuff. Some crazy things happened in politics and celebrity land. I’m gonna be a Dad, and I want to be a better person both before and after the Baby arrives.
Written by Jonathan Cutrell, engineer and podcast host amongst other things. You can follow him on Twitter at @jcutrell.