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Avery,

I can’t in good conscious believe that you will achieve anything more than the standards of my own living, just because I tell you to do so. I dream that you will choose to spend your evenings engaging in a variety of intellectual challenges, alongside an age appropriate context of responsibilities. My strategy of providing this path, is best described by a rule I learned from the craft of screenwriting, “Show, don’t tell”. Avery, if you were alive right now, all I could possibly show you lately, is an unhealthy addiction to video-games, porn, Facebook debating and the Netflix instant queue. It would be an easy path of ignorance to sit on my couch of lethargic shame and believe that I will magically break all of these habits the day you are born. I owe you more than that, and I will set a higher standard for this family to live by, starting right now.

Rather than specifically focusing on one goal, I could be a much better parent if I simply generalize my self-improvement, in an effort to be an all-around better person. That is what I want for you Avery, O let thy be the light.

Dad’s manifesto of change:

Seven days a week, I will spend a minimum of thirty-minutes on each of these things:.

  • Chores

Dishes, Laundry and the litter-box

  • Exercise

Weights, Yoga, and Running

  • Creativity

Writing, Editing, Photography

  • Reading

Fiction, Non-Fiction, Science, Philosophy, Journalism, self-help, and Barley Legal

Accountability:
Good intentions are routinely lost in the fray of repetition and exhaustion. I need a hook, that keeps me dedicated to this mission statement. That hook is this blog and it’s regular readers. I will live tweet these daily goals @Lessonsforavery and I will add a recent tweets gadget to the side bar of this blog. So everybody and anybody, will be able to see my progress, and if I’m slacking, they are encouraged to tweet @Lesssonsforavery and provide me a social media kick in the ass, if they wish to.

Follow me!

This is what it’s like to be an adult Avery, struggling to micro-manage these fleeting attempts to convince ourselves that we have control of something. We shall all fail at some point, even so, our ultimate goal is to simply never give up, in-spite of all the fore-shadowing of our eventual demise. Life must be treated as an opportunity, to be something more than those before us. Procrastination is the poison, that blinds us from death, by creating the fear of life. Now or never, count me in; be prepared Avery, because your next.

Below, are some pictures from my less-than-recent accomplishments, hopefully these shall serve as motivation, to be a better person.

First two pictures are from a 10K foot-race I participated in 2008. Finished in 1:01:33

These are from the top of a mountain I free-climbed in the Appalachians.
And Finally, these are from another hiking trip. Diane and I completed this treacherous 9-mile long day-hike through thick swampy forests, across cable bridges, and around the largest water-fall in South Carolina.

Hey Avery,

When you’re a kid, you will be taxed with numerous challenges. Everything from your first heart-beat to motor-functions, breath of air, bowel movements, crying and on, and eventually you will learn to play, laugh, and dance; and yes, it can be all fun and games, but someone always gets hurt. I don’t mean some little scrape on the knee, or for that matter, I’m not even talking about physical harm, this lesson is about learning to handle emotional pain.

Call the Whambulance

My journey through this challenge, was very difficult, and I must remain connected to this time of my life, so that I can be aware of your own struggle, and be your guiding light. This is the story of my own childish journey through the dark murky waters of emotional ambiguity.

Gradually over time, I began to feel my body and mind change, and I recall this metamorphosis being hard to notice in the moment, but still strangely confusing. My family was very loving and providing, but I remember feeling like they were distracted and not aware of my introspective struggle.

I should clarify, I didn’t roll up into a ball and cry in my room, I did actually try to heal these wounds, but I was a kid, and my first attempts to discover emotional clarity, were quite crude, and rather dangerous. My first solution came to me while facing social-anxiety, I recall wanting to talk to my baby-sitter, and was afraid to do so. Instead, I sat in my room, and would stare into my cheap plastic osculating fan. I took off the plastic barrier and started jamming action figures and other random objects into the spinning blades. The destruction, and dismay gave me an internal sense of fulfillment, that I had never before felt. Once bored with that game, I began to wonder what would happen if I jammed my finger into the fan blades. I imagined the blood, drama and panic it would cause. I did approach the fan blades with my pinky-finger, hoping for the worst, but I didn’t have the courage to find out that a plastic fan, can’t actually sever a finger. A week later, I told my Mother, that I was thinking about committing suicide. It was a lie, I wanted attention, and I got the attention of a psychiatrist instead. I was prescribed anti-depressants and everyone acted as if all was well. I never swallowed a single pill.

I never swallow

 

So I failed the fan test, but the idea planted the seed of a dangerous concept, that pain and fear could provide a momentary sense of emotional clarity. One night I stole a pair of tweezers from the bathroom; I can’t even remember how I got this idea, but I laid in my bed and began plucking single hairs from the inside of my nose, one by one. I did this until my nostrils were hairless, then I would wait, until I could seek relief another night. My patience grew short, and I would wait less and less. I was already a drug addict, and I didn’t even know what drugs were yet. One night, I was seeking relief real bad, and my nostrils were bone dry and would even spot with blood, so I decided to start plucking other hairs, eye-lashes, eye brows, and I had even started at the top of my head. So I got out of control, and one day while I was at school, a classmate pointed at the top my head and shouted, “baldy!”. I had not known, but I plucked a bald spot, the size of a quarter, into the top of my head. My Mom and the therapist she said was mine, decided I was allergic to the antideppresants, I was pretending to take. I will never forget my Father, when he looked directly into my eyes, and announced, “He is doing it to himself”, nobody believed him, and I didn’t have the strength to out myself, but for some strange reason, it was all I really wanted, is to be noticed.

Coming soon, a picture from my Jr. High year book with the nickname “Baldy” underneath.

Things made a turn for the better at this point, far from perfect, but better. One of the most important influences of my positive growth was discovered through music. I borrowed my Dads album “Animals” by Pink Floyd, just because the cover art interested me. The very opening track is “Pigs on the Wing Part 1”, and I remember feeling like I had already wrote the lyrics to a song that I have never before.

If you didn’t care what happened to me,

and I didn’t care for you,

we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain,

occasionally glancing up through the rain

wondering which of the buggers to blame

and watching for pigs on the wing. 

I continued to discover that many of these confusing emotions were all packaged in this fascinating poetic rhythm. Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, The Doors and Pink Floyd, spoke to the dark corners of my imagination, and provided a contextual beauty to the emotional pain I struggled to process. It may not have been the last time I flirted with self-destructive behavior, but it was the last time I felt like I didn’t have any other option.

The soundtrack of my puberty.

 

Avery, my situation was my own, and not yours. I intend to do everything in my capability to protect you, but I know even the greatest efforts will falter under the ambiguous nature of the human psyche.

Avery, I have good news and bad news.


First the good news:
I got married. It was quick, simple and my partner and I made a fun video of the event.

We did not do this because of love or commitment to each other, we had that before, and that has not changed. We did this for you, more so for the societal structure we have to raise you with.

The bad news:
The world we live in is a bit more complicated than things like: Love, happiness, family and education; no, unfortunately there is much greed and darkness we must tread through. Your birth could be the light at the end of this dark tunnel, but that tunnel has a price, and I’m concerned it is a price I’m not willing to pay.

Your Father is not a perfect man, although I will let you believe so for as long as your willing, but sadly I’m a man that is considered a social reject. Not because I like artsy things, or because I defend controversial politics like politically correct language and affirmative action. No, those things are subjective, and as adults, we wear them on our sleeves and we learn to agree to disagree, or say nothing at all. What earns me the title of a social reject is my complete lack of greed. I say this negatively, I’m not patting myself on the shoulder and bragging about how not greedy I am. What I mean is, I literally don’t care about money, to the point where I would rather be a transient hobo, rather than, “one of them”. So clearly, there is a problem. How can I function as a responsible Father with this attitude? How can I expect my partner to cope with this financial ignorance amicably, and retain a happy functional unit? Were already struggling to figure out how to afford you, and I’m faced with these greedy insurance companies that will treat you and your motherly vessel like a financial investment. It makes me sick, thinking about his garbage, and it makes me question whether or not I should really create you.

I’m feeling very dark and sad Avery, I feel like this is all a bad idea and the prospect of your life is more likely to be that as a victim, rather than a gift. How do I do this, how can I keep my integrity and be the father I need to be without placing my personal ethics on the corporate assembly line of financial greed. I just want to be a creative, healthy, and happy Father. I don’t care about fancy cars, expensive vacations, pretty jewelry, big raises, tax returns, 401ks, interest, credit score, BLAH BLAH BLAH; all I care about is you, and I’m gravely concerned that I can’t do both.

Avery, my friends and family are going to respond to this post with an affirming and positive retort:
It will all change, stay positive Shawn, it is all worth it in the end, love will conquer all, grow-up, be a man, you have so much support, don’t be negative, and this sounds like a cop-out.  

                   

[please fill in the blank, and assume your encouragement is appreciated, without it being stated like a broken record of supportive rhetoric, I’m exploring truth, not begging for support]

In conclusion:
I’m so ashamed of the world I live in, I’m worried that you will be happier living innocently in the depths of my imagination, than in your own flesh; the older I get, the more I find myself doing the same. Your smile would be warming, but this world is always colder. It might be too late, and I already feel the regret of a future not worth having.

Maybe if I pay my insurance company enough money, I can be happy, sort of…

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