Of Course I’m Right! Just Ask Me.

smart

I carry a burden.

Sometimes, people ask for my opinion on stuff.  I can only assume that they intend to heed my advice, otherwise why would they ask?

That’s the burden.  My advice, answers, perspectives, thoughts, and even emotions can be a pretty serious contemplation – especially knowing that future generations will in some small way follow my lead.  That’s a lot for one man to carry.

On the upside, I always know I’m right, so there’s comfort in that.

Now, you might be saying ‘Wow – what an ego on that guy!‘, but that’s not true. In fact, I pride myself on my humility.

The thing is, if I thought I was wrong, I wouldn’t offer advice.  None of us would, unless you were some sort of psychopath and deliberately gave people bad advice just to mess with them.

Your opinion is the currency of how others appreciate your wisdom and intelligence.

There are times of course, that I may have no opinion at all.  If I was asked if I preferred knitting or crocheting, I would have no clue, since I neither knit nor crochet. In this case, I would be confident in saying ‘I have no opinion on that topic.  You should ask someone else’.

Even in saying that, I’m showing that I’m correct in my advice…to not take my advice.

See how that works?  But it’s not always that simple.  Sometimes, I will be asked for my advice then have it questioned.  I don’t know why.  If someone wanted my opinion, why then would they choose not to take it?

Let me give you a hypothetical example that in no way reflects any actual events.  Let’s pretend that my lovely wife is picking out a dress for a party.  She holds up 2 outfits and says; “The red dress, or the blue one?”  She’s asking my opinion, presumably because she understands that I have some fashion credibility and she clearly wants to look her best standing next to me.  I need all the help I can get.

I tell her “The blue one”.  That should be it, right?  Asked and answered.  Conversation over, decision made, I’ll be waiting in the car.  You’re welcome.

Really?”, she’ll then say.  What?  Why is she questioning my decision?  Even if I was’t paying attention or watching TV when she asked, I’d have at least a 50/50 shot at getting it right – pretty good odds.

Why the blue one?, she would go on to ask.  Uh, oh.  Not only has my input been brought into question, now I’m being asked to back up my decision with facts.

“Because I like the blue one on you”…I may leave out the fact that we’re already late and the blue one looks like it doesn’t need ironing.  This is how I balance promptness and self-preservation.

“But the red one goes better with my shoes”.  Now we’re treading into deep waters.  If I rescind my original decision about the blue dress, I soil my reputation as being decisive and correct, and my currency begins to devalue.  On the other hand, if I hold fast, we may miss the hors d’oeuvres altogether.

“Okay, the red dress does look better with those shoes.  Wear the red dress.”  I reply.  This doesn’t negate my previous position on the dress.  New information was brought to my attention after the fact, which changed my position.  Good judgement still intact, and my currency stays afloat.  My reputation for promptness however, will be pocked, but sometimes you just gotta go with it, right?

“But you liked the blue one better.”  Sheesh!

“Not with those shoes.”  I should play more chess – I’m a genius!

“Maybe I should wear the blue dress and pick out another pair of shoes”.  Touche! This is no longer an opportunity to offer input, but a battle of the minds.  I wished I had grabbed a snack when I had the chance.

This hypothetical tarry could go on for hours…hypothetically.  But that’s the point of my dilemma.  If I’m asked my opinion, I offer it and expect that to be taken with the utmost consideration. That’s not always the case.  Sometimes, my opinion is nothing more than an opportunity to be an external ‘internal voice’ to be questioned, rebutted, and occasionally outright rejected.

That’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re always right.  You put real thought into offering your input.  When it’s questioned or rejected, it makes you just a bit less sure of yourself.  And that’s dangerous.  The acceptance of your opinion bolsters your currency.  If it’s discarded, it makes you less valuable, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, if you know you’re always right – like I do – maybe it’s more of a reflection on those who reject your input that on your wisdom (previous hypothetical scenario notwithstanding). But that’s just my opinion.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, my wife wore a black dress, looked beautiful in it, and we missed the hors d’oeuvres.  Hypothetically.

Dads – Perfectly imperfect

dumb dadsSince the beginning of time, the male of the humanoid species have endeavored to achieve awesomeness.  Early man created tools of hunting, war, and fixing broken toasters.  They did this so they wouldn’t have to call on someone else to do what they had no business doing on their own.

Fiercely proud, even early man insisted on being the sole ‘go-to’ guy for his families needs.  Tracking wild game never included pulling over to ask a stranger for directions.  They’d rather die of starvation in a quarry than admit they lost the scent of the animal.  No, even our ancient ancestors had a keen sense of stubbornness.  It’s a wonder we ever made it this far!

Luckily, today’s Dad’s don’t often die in quarries looking for food for their families.  We still won’t ask for directions, though.  In fact, even with super high-tech satellite guidance systems, we’ll decide our route is better than the one on the Navigation system we payed hundreds of dollars for.

‘That stupid machine doesn’t know anything!’

Our hunting is usually limited to parking spots – another task that has it’s own weird science to it.  My SUV has retractable side mirrors.  I love this feature!  Because of this sweet little bit of modern technology, I can shoe-horn my gas guzzler into spots reserved for mopeds.  Opening the doors is a bit of a challenge, but hey – look how close we are to the mall entrance!

tight parkingOne thing today’s Dad’s share with our ancestors is the need to pass along life-skills to our kids. It’s this disposition that drives Dads to teach their offspring on how to survive. It’s a fundamental need, developed deep within ourselves as a pseudo immortality, ensuring the manly skills of our forefathers are passed along.  Strangely enough, this need has a blow-back effect, in that while we try to pass along life-saving skills and advice, those very lessons usually involve tasks that could, in themselves, have fatal consequences.

Take swimming lessons for example.  While few can argue about how learning to swim is a significant survival advantage, it also provides great health and recreational benefits.  Where it gets dicey, is in how Dads help us to develop that skill.  It would stand to reason that a parent would register their children for board certified lessons, in a supervised and well equipped swimming pool, that had been tested for cleanliness and life-saving equipment.  It would stand to reason….except for Dads!

That could take years, and cost hundreds of dollars.  Why?  How did we learn to swim?  Pushed off the dock in a semi-polluted pond with no life-saving equipment, ladder, or detailed dry lessons on how to kick your feet.  It was sink or swim, mister!  It built character, and possibly a paralyzing fear of H2O.

They were practical lessons.  We didn’t learn about power tools by taking a class in safety, followed by simulations and ‘role-playing’.  Dad would fire up the saw, hand us a piece of wood, and say ‘don’t cut off any fingers’.  Instant carpenter.  If you were successful, you had the run of the tool shed.  If you weren’t, well, you were learning to write with the other hand…and it was your fault.

Dads don’t live as long as Moms, statistically speaking, so we have limited time to do our data-dump of life knowledge.  Some things just need to be taught on the fly.  We don’t know when our number will be up.  Waiting for little Billy to decide if he wanted to learn a sport was a waste of time.  It was ‘Here – catch!’.

hit with ball…and if you didn’t?  Your fault.

There’s also some key differences in how Dads give advice from how Moms give the same advice.  A Mom might say, ‘Don’t do anything that we wouldn’t be proud of’.

A Dad, giving the same sage advice, would make one small change to that suggestion; ‘Don’t get caught doing anything that we wouldn’t be proud of’.

See the difference? Mom’s advice is absolute – no wiggle room.  Dads are more pragmatic than that.  They know you’re gonna do dumb stuff.  They just don’t want you to get caught doing it.  If you do, they have to make an example out of you, and that means repeating a lesson they already taught.  Dads HATE having to do things twice.  Any time a Dad can cut a corner on something, the better life is.

That probably explains this:

Dad cutting cornersEven fixing that toaster often had a unique and dangerous aspect to it.  If you’ve ever seen footage of a brain operation, the surgeon often has the patient awake, so they can be sure they’re snipping the part of the cortex that is causing the problem, and not the one that controls breathing.  Well, Dads tend to follow that same logic.

If the toaster is unplugged, how will you know if you’ve fixed it?  Common sense.  If it’s good enough for a brain surgeon, it’s good enough for Dad.

fixing toasterDads have a way of getting things done without those pesky instructions.  Sure, there’s the odd extra bolt left over, but the mental triumph over stupidly complicated directives more than makes up for the questionable safeness of said project.  This is what Dads teach us.  Sometimes you just have to throw away the script, wing it, and rely on your ancient instincts to guide you.  Trust in your gut.  Those thousands of years of evolutionary trial and error suggests that your gene pool is deeper than most, just by the fact that you’re alive and reading this.

It’s those shortcuts and bypasses that really are the fruit of living, aren’t they?  How boring life would be if we didn’t get the crap scared out of us once in a while.  Take the path less traveled – even if it’s less traveled because it leads to quicksand or some other potential catastrophe.  These are where our great memories are formed.

We all should thank our dangerous, spontaneous, and sometimes insensitive Dads this Father’s Day.  They keep the spark alive…sometimes with a knife in the toaster.