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Showing posts with label roles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roles. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Roles: We All Actors on Life's Stage

As many of us go through the year-ending holidays as parents and grandparents, we are looked to by our children as those who lead the activities and celebrations and just set the tone for our home.  We are usually embracing a role that our parents had embraced before us.  Sometimes it is out of a sense of tradition and sometimes it it because we want to do.  Anyway, let's focus on the word 'role'.  What is a role to me?  It is a part we play.  It is actions or attitude we embrace.  We embrace them for our own reasons.  

Sometimes, we embrace the part or actions/attitude because that is what is expected of us.  We want to be considered by society as being "responsible".  In other words, we do what is expected because we don't want to 'look bad' to others.  Sometimes, we embrace our role because it is a core belief of our faith.  We want to be respectful or obedient of our Higher Power (God) and/or our moral code.  The "Fear of the Lord" might keep us on the right track and/or just wanting to make sure we please our Father (Higher Power).  Sometimes, we feel like we are being judged by those close to us.  We may want to please our parents, spouse or even children.  Perhaps maybe it could be more like that we don't want to 'displease' them.  Sometimes it may be as simple as we want to be feel good about ourselves.  So, we embrace a role to boost or ego a bit.  Sometimes, there is just something deep inside us telling us that a particular role is just something that we should have or do or are meant to have or do.  Whatever the draw,  sometimes it feels to me in a way that we are actors on a stage called life.  Our audience may be society at large, those close to us or are Higher Power.  

Sometimes we embrace a role with almost reckless enthusiasm.  We are excited and can't wait to burst onto the stage and start belting out our lines.  That is, we are almost getting ahead of ourselves.  We are on the edge interrupting the other actors or actresses who are in the process of finishing their lines.   Sometimes, we embrace our role with dogged determination.  We appreciate it is what we should be doing or where we should be.   We push and grind through it in a bid to make sure we get it right or complete.   Sometimes, like Noah, we grudgingly embrace our role because, while we hate it, we are facing consequences if we don't.   Whether it is someone's wrath, a loss of face or just personal shame, we are compelled to meet our role.  Whatever way we embrace it, we still behaving like actors on stage.  Just sometimes we have an easier time getting into the character of our role.  Additionally, sometimes we just do a better job in 'acting' our role.  While it would be best if we embraced our roles properly and gave an Oscar worthy performance in our roles, much of the battle is just accepting and trying.   Like a famous PSA for adopting says, "You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent."  Sometimes it is enough to accept and work seriously at your role.

I've expressed why we seek and/or accept roles.  I've also expressed how we embrace our roles.  But, let's get more concrete.  What our our roles?  Below is just a sampling of roles and not meant to be a complete list or in any particular order.

ROLES (examples)

  • Becoming/being a parent
    • When I took my daughter's mom to the hospital 13+ years ago, I felt like we were a couple with this concept of impending parenthood represented by a significant bulge in her tummy.  I knew conceptually that we were about to become parents, but nothing could fully prepare me for what followed.  We went to the hospital as a couple with the idea of a child on the way.  We left as a couple that just happened to have this little person who was fully dependent on us.
    • As we were taking this little person to the car on the way out, it struck me: I'm a parent now and I don't know if I have what it takes.  Life hits you quick sometimes and I realized that I needed to suck it up and try no matter my insecurities.
    • I was on 'stage' with the audience being the world.  I felt like I had to put on a good performance in the role of 'parent'.  Honestly, for me, my real audience was my daughter, her mom and my Higher Power (God).
  • Being a good spouse/significant other
    • As I've heard and been advised the real work of relationships/marriage is not when things are going smooth.  The real work is when there are difficulties, differences or conflict.   It's easy when things are going smooth to be embrace the illusion that 'love' alone will carry the day.  However, as anyone who has been in a long-term marriage or who has been divorced realizes that warmth towards your SO is important.  However, dedication and determination will carry the day long term.  In other words, 'playing your role'.
  • Being a good employee
    • I've heard the phrase, attributed to Mark Twain, "Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life."  I don't necessarily totally agree with that.  I think that even people that love their job, need a break from time to time.  Even the most loved jobs can have their own challenges.
    • Our role is quite clear here: If you are do a job, do it properly (or to the best of your ability).  It's hard to take pride in doing a job poorly and/or disinterestedly.
  • Being a citizen or member of society
    • In order for society to function smoothly we have to be a good neighbor and we have to participate in it. 
      • We play the role of a voter.  We take seriously the role of choosing our leaders and/or our rules.
      • We can play the role of a good neighbor.   If we see someone that is distressed or needs help.  Even if we don't feel like getting involved, putting ourself at risk or just interrupting what our own routine, we can play a responsible role.
      • If we are in a 'hero or leader' role, it is important that we embrace the role properly.  It is important that we set a good example.  That could making sure we are appropriate in our role.  It could mean that we put others before ourselves.

Roles can feel uplifting, roles can feel challenging, roles can feel foreign, and frankly roles can even feel miserable.  But, however a role feels, if we are meant to take a role, it is important that we take it seriously.   An actor on the stage will only be accepted by the audience if he/she takes his/her role seriously.  Similarly, I believe we can live a meaningful, purposeful or proper life if we are willing to take seriously or accept our role.   This isn't always easy and sometimes as I will aside shortly, roles can be brutal.  For me, when I think about it, if God can take the form of a man and take on hurt of the sin of the world and the brutal death for us, maybe I can suck it up.

Just my 2 cents.

-- Rich

  • In 2011, I had to play the role of a loving younger brother while I helped with my late brother's passing.  In 2015, I finished that role as I had his ashes interned.  I wrote a eulogy for him.
  • In 2014, I had to play the role of a responsible son as my mom died suddenly and not fully prepared.  I had to pull together (financially and logistically) a funeral and a wake in a matter of a few days.   Once again, I had to write a eulogy.
  • In 2015, I had to set up another funeral and burial as my dad finally succumbed to Parkinson's related complications.
In each case, I wanted to run away from responsibility.  I didn't want to have to push through the pain and the loss.  My mother and dad had entrusted me to be the 'responsible party'.   My late brother's passing was unexpected and he didn't entrust anyone.  But, as his closest family member, I knew it was my role to see that he and his memory were treated properly and respectfully.   He needed a strong advocate and no one had to tell me, I just knew it was my role and as I look back my honor.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Follow the Leader: Thoughts on Leadership and Followership

One day recently I had a discussion with my daughter.  She was among a group of boys, some of whom were picking on a younger boy.  Long story short, she decided to chime in on the poking fun at the younger boy.  When I get wind of it, I let her know that wasn't acceptable behavior and that I'd better not get wind of that sort of behavior again.  Obviously, you appeal to her sense of consequences, but even more, I wanted to appeal to her pride and self-respect too.

I said to her, "When you followed the behavior of others who are making bad choices boys are you being a leader or a follower?"  She said, "A follower".   I then asked her, "If you stand up and said that the mocking behavior wasn't okay or had walked away and possibly told an adult, would you be a leader or follower?".  She said, "A leader".  So, then I said, which would you rather be?  She indicated she preferred being a leader.

So, I kind of of laid out to her my thoughts about being a leader, a follower, and both, especially as it relates to a kid.

  • Strives to do that which which her or she knows is right, for its own sake.
  • When confronted with pressure to do the wrong thing stands up to those pressuring him or her, walks away in protest and/or when necessary relay the problem to others in authority--except where they themselves are the authority to handle it.
  • Sets a positive example.  When a situation comes up which tempts them not to do the right thing, they resist that temptation.   
    • Making bad choices leads to the tendency to make other bad choices.
    • Even when you think no one is paying attention to your choices, often time they are or will find about them.
    • If you make bad choices, you make it easier for others to, especially those who by virtue of age or position you should be leading.
  • Even leaders have to answer to someone to.  
  • Good leaders become and stay good leaders when they realize that there is a time to follow the advice or example of others.

  • Not every one can be a leader or precisely, you cannot be a leader in every situation.  Some situations dictate only one leader at a time.  For example, there can only be one President at a time.
  • Sometimes you don't have the knowledge/training, experience or expertise to lead in a given situation.
    • For example, you need special training to be a police officer. 
    • For example, you need to be old enough and have been trained on the proper handling of fireworks (and depending on types or location, certified)
  • It is okay to be a follower when others in charge or others like you are setting a good example or doing the right thing.  When they aren't, it can be wrong or dangerous to be a follower.
  • Followers usually have a time in a place in which their leadership is necessary.
  • In some situations, by following the example of a good leader, you are actually leading others around you.
    • If you follow the advice & example of sports star who exhorts you to "complete your education" or "don't smoke" or a message like that you are setting a good example yourself.  Siblings and kids that look up to you, will see the positive example you set and be at least a little less likely to quit school or start smoking.
  • Almost without exception, most people who end up being good leaders had at least one person in their life whom they followed that set an example.

I guess the takeaway I hope to give from this post is the following:  Be a leader when you should, a follower when it is proper and realize that whether you see yourself as a leader or follower, you should always do your best and do the right thing regardless.   After all, it is very likely that you will have to play each role at some point (and sometimes at the same time).  So, doing your best and proper will help those who are leading you AND will set a good example for those whom you are leading.

- Cheers

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Finding peace in the eye of the storm vs. shelter from it.

I recently had a dream about my late father.  In it, I was dealing with the insanity that characterized his last two plus years of his life.  He had gone from walking at the park, to having some trouble walking, to having a lot of trouble walking, to have a walking followed by falling at times.  At first, it was every blue moon, then it became a fairly regular occurrence.  He was living by himself and I helped him as much as my situation allowed, but it got to be ridiculous.  At some point, medical professionals started to note this progression and said that he needed to be in at least assisted living.  Eventually, they all said he needs constant care (or at least to have someone readily available 24/7) to help him.   Over time the level of necessary help became more acute all the time.  (originally posted 9/3/15)

Anyway, on a number of occasions, he went to the hospital after having a fall.   I would meet him there stay with him and then returned him home with me having to leave eventually.  This went on for a while until I realized how absurd the pattern was and it was hammered into my by medical staff.  Yet, my dad kept insisting on going home after each ER visit.  I eventually walked away and let the system take over.  I told the social worker I can't be part of this insanity.  They are under pressure by the insurance company to not let a patient overstay their hospital need.   So, instead of someone being there to take him home, a social worker convinced him to go to a nursing home at that time.  He accepted that initially, but he kept wanting to go home.  That was not going to happen as I could not in good conscience let him be at his house alone for any long stretch of time.   I was in a rut where I stopped seeing him for a while and limited contact with him as he was pressing to "go back home".  I needed to walk away for my mental health rather than let him attempt to bully me into allowing him in an unsafe situation.  Eventually, I got the strength to reconnect, but it was a constant battle.  He'd be fine and then say, "I want to go home" out of nowhere.  As his son and POA, I could not in good conscience facilitate that.  I made it known to family and friends that I wasn't going allow him into an unsafe/unsupervised environment and that I did not want to do them to either.

Anyway, the upshot is this: I was in the storm (of a dad refusing to face reality and being mean or pushy about it at times) and I eventually found the eye of the storm--a safe place.  But, in order to get to that place I had to set aside my feelings of sadness that I would never have the chance to see eye to eye with him.  I had to set aside the fact that it wasn't the happiest point in our relationship.  I had to set aside the feelings of going against what he 'wanted' and had to make choices/push back with what he needed.

Eventually, he got too sick to 'fight'.  The storm ebbed as he got closer to the end and he passed away on May 1st, 2015.  This ended that storm.  The battle had ended for him, but the battle of fighting a delusional parent as he got less able to take care of himself had ended too.

I did what I needed to as a responsible son at the time, but it hurt.  I have finally had a chance to exhale and feel the sadness of losing my dad way before he physically passed.  I finally had  a chance to process the battle with a sick parent who wasn't facing reality.  I did what I needed to cope and now have a chance like after a storm "to assess the damage".  This is healthy I think.


I've come to some realizations about life's rough storms.

  • Sometimes we do what we need to to cope and do not have the vision to see how it affects others and we do not have the vision to see that a given storm is unnecessary.  
    • For example, you are with someone controlling, in your codependency, your finding the eye of the storm is doing whatever it takes to make or keep the other 'happy' or at least off your case.  Instead of seeing you could walk away from the storm, you search for an eye.  In the process you walk or push away from others who are a safe distance from the storm.
    • It is so much easier to see later that you weren't away from the storm, but instead were in the peace of the eye of the storm.   It's so easy when we are trying to escape the debris to see that we could have found a safer place.  It's so easy to second guess.  It's so easy to say what if or maybe I could have made better choices or handled it better.  But, sometimes we just have to accept that perhaps we aren't used to storms.
  • Sometimes we have no choice.  We aren't in a position where we can take shelter from the storm, so what we need to do is find the safest place within the actual storm (the eye).  In other words, there are no great choices, so we have to choose the best of all bad options.
  • After the storm has passed and you've had time to survey the damage you have a choice how to view it.
    • You could play the role of the victim and say poor me and wallow in the storm. (self-pity)
    • You could play the role of the martyr/hero and say no biggie and pretend the storm didn't happen.  (denial)
    • You could play the thoughtful one and say that the storm was dangerous and destructive.  I have to find a way to pick up the mess it left and mourn the damage that was done and get to the place where I need to be.  (realist/healthy).  
If you are old enough, life will throw storms your way.  If we open our minds and hearts to the lessons and God's wisdom, we can learn from storms and prepare better for the next ones.  We can find takeaways from the storm and not be stuck in the damage of the storm (self-pity).

We have our roles, see  Main in Motion.  Storms can actually clarify our roles.  We just have to not let ourselves be caught up in the storm itself and be destroyed.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Wanting to be somewhere else in our lives and the role of faith.

One time when I was talking with my daughter, it occurred to me that we spend a lot time throughout our life, wishing we were at a different point of our life.  In other words, the grass will be or was greener at a different point. Now, descriptions of each stage and the longings at each stage, doesn't apply to everyone and experiences differ, but I believe on onto something.  So, without further ado, i bring you the stages in our lives and how we could wish for them to be different.
  • When we are real little kids we look up the elementary school kids and wish we were one of the 'bigger kids'.  We want to be able to ride on this ride or do this activity, be stronger or faster, etc.  
  • When we are young kids, we look to the teenagers and see that they can drive, they can go to more grown up movies, they can stay at home by themselves, they can date, etc.  We see the freedoms they have and wish we could be a big kid.  We won't necessarily see the responsibility that goes with being an older kid.
  • When we are teens we wish an adult so we can live on our own, be able to work full-time or go away to school, etc.  In other words, we are striving for the adult level perks.  We like the perks, but may not be thrilled with the responsibility that comes with them.
  • When we are a young adult under 21, many look forward to 21 as a right of initiation.  We look to be able to go just about to any club or any place we want.  In some cases, we look at those in high school as 'kids' and we are glad we are grown up.  We yearn to be taken seriously as grown-ups, but are not always at this point, especially if we still have parental dependence. 
  • There is a period starting in our  early to middle 20s, especially if we have our first job out of college or have been working for a while when we really start to feel our oats.  For many, it is being able to do just about whatever we want and not having to answer to many people, except maybe an occasional parent or peer group concern.  But, relatively speaking, we have our freedom and a paycheck and can do what we want.  While some have already worked on finding that 'lifelong' relationship, for others it is the time in which we have started to move away from fun dating and have started really started to want to find that lasting grown-up relationship.  From what I see, this period has the potential to be the happiest. However, for some they have lifelong career ambitions that can usually only be achieved with time.  For them, there is impatience to be a little older.
  • Then we hit our 30s.  For some this is a good thing as we are able to really start hitting some of our career ambitions.  For others, it is an 'oh crap' moment in which we realize that we aren't so 'youngish' anymore.  By this time, many are married and have started families.   Now we have to be responsible.  The carefree days of childhood and still free days of young adulthood have yielded to the realities of having to be a responsible spouse/parent.  In some ways, while thirtysomethings may be happy in their marriage/family, there is sometimes a wish for the freedom/carefree nature of our younger years.  In other words, there is some yearning to be a little younger.
  • For me at 36 I realized that I was on the wrong side of the 30s.  In my early to mid 30s, I felt I was close enough to my 20s that I could consider myself close to a 20 something.   To a high schooler, I would start to seriously look like Dad this point and less like the cool older brother.  By 36, the delusion was over.   I wasn't anywhere near old, but I wasn't exactly close enough to my young adulthood to be part of the 'cool crowd'.  To a teen, I'd be starting to look old though.  To myself, I'd realized that I am closer to 40s than to 20s.
  • For me hitting the 40s was like oh well.  I mean what's the difference between 39 and 40.  From what I see, not much.  I was the age that I thought was old when I was a teen.  I still could hold onto the delusion that I wasn't starting to get old.  That delusion's end comes later.  For some in the 20s and 30s, our body starts saying, "Hello, I have issues".  But, in the 40s our bodies tend to kick this to a higher gear.  Recovery time is longer, we just don't have the flexibility that our kids have.  While they are playing and running, while we are looking for the bench to sit on and watch.  Still, relatively speaking we are not old. Many are established in their career, but we still wish we had the stamina and spunk of younger years.
  • Later 40s.  The 40s have been said to be the new 30s with advancements in healthcare.  But, we are realizing now that the delusion of being the new 30s will end soon anyway.  We are seriously edging closer and closer to being able to receive AARP benefits.  In other words, society has in way started to let us know that soon we will be welcomed to the old person's club.  We start to really reflect on how far away we are from high school/college.  Our parent's health often seriously starts to deteriorate then and in some cases, they have died by this point--leaving us to feel like oh wow, we are the family elder(s).   We start really missing the younger years.
  • In our 50s, we are telling ourselves, well at least I'm not a senior citizen.  But, to the youth culture, we are looking  like or being seen as "grandma/grandpa".   In many cases, we start really recalling the 'old days'. To younger people, before your time, is unfortunately a saying we are uttering more and more.  We in some cases, wish we had the wisdom of now with the body of a younger person.  For some, we are 'old', for others we don't want to give up the delusion.  Our kids, whom in some cases have already started leaving before this, are growing up in droves by now.  Our parents start leaving us behind in droves, leaving us to realize we are the family leader generation coming of age.  Once again, we miss more and more younger years.
  • Our 60s - literally now we are senior citizens and by this time most people, if they are to be grandparents are that by now.  We like the grandkids, but we enjoy that we don't have to watch them at the end of the day in most cases.  As our kids have become well established in their own life, we really really sometimes long for the younger years.  Friend of ours, who in some cases have died before this, are dying more often now.   Some still have parent alive, but most or many of our parents have passed on, leaving us as the older generation.   In any case, we start to really strongly consider our own mortality, assuming we aren't in denial.   We see our younger years as a distant memory by now.
  • 70s and beyond - We start to look at 50s and even some in 60s as 'young'.  If we are 'lucky' to have made it here, we have lost a lot of people.  We realize that in many cases, we are nearing the end and reflections/regrets that might have really evidencing themselves in our mid to late 50s and 60s just become more and more common now, presuming we still are mentally with it.  Clearly a younger version of ourselves with the knowledge we've gained would be desirable at this point.
Anyway, the conclusion, I have come up with after assessing the different points in our lives is that for much our life, unless we have faith and the hope that goes with it, seems to be a struggle.  We long to be a different age then we are much or most of the time.  There are struggles/frets at each stage.  There may only really a short window at best in which we are 'truly happy' with our age.  FAITH is a tool by which can hold on through the rough periods and realize happiness in every period and have hope for the future.  

If we look through a glass half full perspective, there is always something we have to do or are not allowed to do at the various stages of our lives.  It is easy to overlook the responsibilities we are exempt from due to age--working for a living, paying bills, etc. It is also easy to overlook the things we can do at our age, that we can't necessarily do at other ages. Things such as riding kids ride, easily climbing and jumping and running as kid.

For me, my Christian faith has helped me to accept the stages and roles of my life, though not perfectly.  For example, I'm in my late 40s and instead of seeing managing the affairs and expenses of the passing of my parents as a burden, I can see it as an honor that they trusted me.  In my younger years, it helped me see that I have the freedom to do things without the burden of responsibility that comes with adulthood such as how will I pay for my needs.

It is inevitable that from time to time and at different points in our lives that we wish we were at a different stages.  It is also inevitable that at times, we look forward to stages in our lives idealistically or back on stages in our lives selectively.  However, what is not inevitable that we stay in the past or impatiently wish for the future.  With faith and hope, we can learn to appreciate the moment and stay in it most of the time as needed.

Just some thoughts....