Sunday, February 14, 2016
February 13, 2016
Slept in the front bedroom where I could see the bitter thin snow flying against the streetlight. Continued stream of small disasters to which I react badly.
My father was on my mind. I have been trying to wait out resentment and let tenderness toward him take over, but he has been dead a while now and it has not happened. The tenderness I feel has little to do with him and me, and I would have felt it, watching him at some time or in some deed, even if I had not known him. He was a far better man when he was not around his family. This is his tragedy, and not mine to figure out now. But I did recall those times when I was tempted to silence him or strike him back, gestures I could have made good on even in youth, for he was not a brave man, and, when resisted, if his first brutal response didn’t work, he retreated pitiably. What stopped me? I have pondered that, and realized sometime today that it was the one kind of love he permitted me: a decorum, a filial piety that had more to do with my perception of the world than with my actual situation.. It was knowing he was not a brave or a strong man, and wanting him to have as much dignity as he could, wanting him to be better than he was. Wanting him not to be the man whose son had been forced to throw him down. Wanting him to be a better father than he was. I was proud of myself a little, coming to that realization. My reasons were better when worked out than they were when I was jumbling them all under the label “confusion.” I don’t suppose anyone lets his parents rest completely.
This has bled over into my professional life, where I have steered away from conflict, or, conflict forced upon me, never counterattacked with my full armament. I lack the ruthlessness gene. This is probably for the best, all in all, though it allows the guilty to go unpunished.