Category Archives: Fathers

Riding into the new year – time traveling in the present.

In the midst of my family’s ritual laughing feast and gorge, my mom has invited us to her Kundalini yoga classes. The instructor there has reminded us that our mind is like a horse we are riding. Sometimes we have gone without a saddle or reins, letting it take us where it will but with training we recall we are not our mind and can be grateful for our ability to go where we want to.

During this visit, my horse and I have pretended to be time travelers. In moments when my dad has recalled our family history and the double feature matinees of his youth, I pretend that I have come from the future to revel in these moments with him.  I take in his Old Spice cologne and the organized eloquent spaciousness he has surrounded himself with. I think how much I would give to be able to touch and listen to him decades from now.  As I digest this (and the incredible amount of food we have eaten in the past 24 hours.) I rejoice.

As the old year merges into the new, the gratitude I have for life is not that I will get to hold onto my family or all of you forever but that I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be with you now.

Tonight many will sing the Robert Burns poem, although past “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind,” most of the words will be a blur.  Here’s a cherished portion for ye:

“And there’s a hand, my trusty friend
And gie’s a hand to thine
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne.”

– Robert Burns

That cup stands ready for us. Let us take a sip together now as it overflows. Although we are in seemingly separate spaces, mounted on our trusty steeds we can be together in no time.

Happy New Year!

Love you, Ira

360 degrees around Harper Lee

Last week I finished reading Harper Lee’s prequel sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird which is called Go, Set a Watchman. (It is a sequel but was written before her famous, award winning novel.) For a good ten years, Julia and I religiously watched To Kill a Mockingbird to remind ourselves what it means to be human. For me, that is nearly a perfect movie and it stirs not only my emotions but my conscience. 
Julia and I went on the first day the new book was released and bought it from the local bookstore which is happily called Pickwick’s.  We remembered being at Pendragon books in Oakland, CA at midnight to get the last of the Harry Potter books.  Pendragon was packed and there was an excitement and comradery in the air.  There will be very few times in our lives now where being in bookstore for the release of a physical book will be an event.
There has been a lot of controversy and criticism of Harper Lee’s new book and I did my best not read or listen to it before I read it myself.  I was worried that Atticus Finch, who said,  “I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes—baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you,” would be dethroned as a literary God of justice and stalwart humanitarian. Harper Lee manages to find her own conviction as a young woman and upholds what Atticus has taught her.  But this book is about understanding what it means to be fully human. 
My father taught me when I was a child to walk three hundred and sixty degrees around a person’s point of view.  When I was a teenager, I would come home ranting as if I was a sixties radical and my father would sigh and do his best to help me walk around the additional hundred and eighty degrees. 
There is a way to protest injustice while remaining compassionate and being empathetic to our own shortcomings. 
Here is one of my favorite protests:
One man with a Sousaphone ruins an entire KKK march
by providing them with a silly soundtrack.
Here’s to the prankster that is able to lighten the load of our collective folly.
Here’s to merging our conviction with a loving heart.

Father’s Day reflection

I am grateful that my family got to visit last week and that we all had a sweet time together.  We visited Ellis Island and the Tenement museum on the lower East Side of Manhattan in the first two days of their being here so, when we visited the lake across the street and my dad took off his shoes and socks to put his feet in the water, the relief of the leisure we shared was not something that was lost on me.  It wasn’t a hundred years ago that working over time in cramped quarters often yielded little more than tuberculosis.  That we are fortunate enough to have been born into a time and place where we can recognize one another and ourselves as something beyond struggle is something to uphold.
Sitting by the lake, my dad told me the story of when he was just starting out in radio.  He used to record segues between classical selections for the next day’s programming.  One day, while he was doing this, another dj came into the room. He looked only slightly annoyed to see my dad there. Then, with a certain dignity proceeded to take his clothes off and do a little dance while my dad tried his best not to laugh or mess up his recording.  The dj then put his clothes on and left the room without looking at or acknowledging my dad at all.  Later, when my dad confronted him as to what it was all about, the dj said he was passing on a long standing tradition.  He told him that in this business, there are many distractions and that you have to be able to focus on what you are doing without letting them get to you.
I feel this story has something to benefit us all ; )
May your week yield up it’s secrets to you so that you can remain focused without frowning.