“Why don’t you go away with the boys?”
Now I can’t say that I listen 100% of the time in our household, however this really did make me sit up.
My wife was right. During the next week, I had some time available and our son was on school holidays. Plus to be fair (and this was my wife’s underlying reason), I had been feeling pretty stressed in general.
So I didn’t hesitate to call my Dad and mention that my wife had suggested that the three of us head away for the night, to our favourite family hideaway a couple of hours away from the City. The 3 generations! He was keen!
This decision and resulting 33-hour adventure, really reinforced a number of things for me and got me recognising what’s important again, therefore I was keen to share, in case it struck a chord with anyone else.
Here’s what I jotted down when I got back.
1) Do what you say you’ll do
We made a plan that in one week, we would head away for the night together. And so we did. If we hadn’t, we would have disappointed each other and really missed out. Stick it in your diary.
2) Create memories
If we hadn’t gone, then we would have missed out on creating memories for us all. I would have been sitting here now and the days would be morphing into each other, potentially without any highlights. Ie the daily grind.
In this case, it really was special, as although yes it was 3 of us, we were actually Two Sons, Two Dads, a Grandfather & a Grandchild. I thought that was pretty cool.
3) Be Punctual
Dad is always, always punctual. In fact, he’s usually early. He’s said 8.30am pick up and at that precise moment, the doorbell went.
It reminded me that this stuff really does matter and reliability is key. It made me realise that I can do better.
4) Reminisce – remember the past & keep the good stuff alive
It’s what we do isn’t it, when we get together with family and with good mates. It’s so great. Have memories and talk about family. Talk about history. They say that you die twice…once when you stop breathing and then once again, in finality, when your name is uttered for the last time. It reminded me to try and keep history alive.
5) Ask more Questions
Sure, it’s your Dad and you probably think you’ve heard it all before, however I found myself asking new questions and digging deeper, on our road trip. As a result, I found out some amazing information about Dad’s 45 years in the same job.
It reminded me that as a kid, we are just so blissfully unaware of the trials and tribulations that go on around us. As long as we have a meal, some clothes, a roof over our heads and some fun, then we don’t ask any questions. Reality is so different as a parent isn’t it? It made me cherish that and look to do an even better job around our kids to try and not make my problems, their problems.
6) Appreciate our Elders
Much like the above, but I find that I learn so, so much by taking the time to listen and be grateful, even if it’s a brief chance to speak and learn more. It made me think about us having one mouth but two ears.
7) Appreciate our Youngsters
This is just as important also. Give them the time they desire. Put down the phone and listen. They have some classic advice.
When you’re sitting talking about life and you look over and realise that your 9 year old son, whilst only 9 has so much to contribute to a supposed ‘grown up’ conversation, is just gold.
It reminded me of a favourite moment with our son, when he & I were away earlier this year and we happened to be on the same flight as one of the best tennis players in the world, who we’d just watched at the local tournament. We got off the plane and there he was, so I went up to him and asked if my son could get a photo with him. He kindly obliged. As we walked off, I said, “See man, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”. To which he replied, “Well, I didn’t ask and I still got”. Fair enough.
8) Look at the stars and realise the significance. Reflect.
Man oh man. We really are a tiny part of the landscape aren’t we?
We sat there in a spa under the stars and talked about life. We saw satellites darting overhead and more stars than I can imagine. We talked about what part we each play in the world. Even recognised our brief place in time. In an odd way, in the following silence, we contemplated that it’s important to make the most of every day, even if we can’t make the most of every minute, all the time.
9) Make serendipity happen
If you don’t put yourself out there and say Yes to things, coincidentally things that you’d like to happen, sometimes just don’t seem to happen.
We wandered to the local shops for something to eat and as it happened a mate of my Dad’s that I hugely admire and has at times been a mentor, was there. Of all the people on a very quiet Friday morning. Perfect timing and in a period of life where I have a few decisions to make, it was meant to me. Always encouraging, this great guy left me feeling pretty positive about life.
10) Don’t be afraid to speak and don’t let the moment slip by – seize the day, carpe diem
Tell your loved ones and your friends how much they mean to you. Don’t hesitate. I looked at Dad and told him how much he meant to me. We all have ‘stuff’ that we have to cope with as we grow up and live. Everyone has a story and when we know that, we see the mountains that every person conquers. I think it’s important to recognise that in others, tell them how much their success means to me personally and tell them how proud they must be of themselves.
11) Take your shoes off and feel the grass and sand beneath
A friend brought it to my attention that especially in winter we never actually ‘feel’ the earth with the souls of our feet and our toes. We’re constantly in some sort of footwear given the temperature, conditions and our work environments.
As soon as I got to our hideaway, I took off my shoes and socks and went for a walk on the grass, to the beach and just into the water. Wow! You never forget those sensations, but you certainly need reminding and I am now a convert…get that footwear off and Hang 10 whenever you can.
It’s called Grounding. And it works I reckon. You feel like you do literally get rid of some negative energy that might build up from wearing anything on your feet apart from your skin.
In only a way that close family or friends can. Talk about stupid things. Just thinking about it now makes me laugh. It’s always great to share those family innuendos, stupid voices, classic moments, favourite trips etc. They just never get old!
I’m really trying to make time with family count. You never get that moment back do you. That’s a fact although we say that in passing all the time. If you can make moments happen, multi-generational catch ups are absolute Gold. Nothing less.
Your time. Your stories. Your pain. Your dreams. Your concerns. Your honesty. Your vulnerability. We’re all the same at the end of the day. We all need community and we all need to share, in order to work out our path.
Thanks and good luck out there. Also, huge thanks to my wife for creating the much needed spark.