Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Birthday Thoughts

Today is Father's Day.  That has always been a day that precedes my birthday by only a few days.  Of course, it is a day to remember my father, William Austin Howe Sr. but it has always also been a day to anticipate the passage of another year.  This year is no different but it bears a bit more significance to me.  My father passed on at age 58 and this Friday, June 22nd will be my 58th birthday.  It gives one pause.  At least it gives ME pause.

Having the same name as my dad is about the only real similarity between us at this point.  I don't see my father when I look into the mirror, either figuratively or literally.  I have had such different life experiences than he had and, because of that, I have a very different take on everything imaginable.  The lessons I learned from my father have no doubt been invaluable, but they have very little real time influence.

As a counselor, I run across certain recurring themes with my clients.  So many seem to look to their parents as the reason for why they are who they are.  I always point out that we can also turn that around and look to our parents for the reason why we aren't who they were.  It can work both ways.  The important thing is to avoid the blame game.  It was what it was but it isn't what is now.  The past can be instructional, but when dwelling upon it causes us to miss the present, we do ourselves a terrible disservice.

I recommend meditation.  There are many different forms of this, but whatever method you prefer, the object is to take a few minutes out of your busy life to reboot.  It is a chance to be still and experience the immediacy of being in the moment.  It is a chance to stop being the hamster on that wheel to nowhere.  Meditation helps you to be still both physically and mentally.  It is a moment to listen and experience the energy that surrounds us.  Hard to experience that energy as intake if you are only expending it.

This is certainly one way I am very different from my father.  He was on that never ending treadmill.  I have learned to take time to be still.  Because of that, I turn 58 years young without trepidation.  I admit it feels a little strange and a little sad that he left so young.  But I am not my dad.  And that is what I remind those who come to me for advice about the effect of ones parents.

                                           Peace and Love,




  1. Happy (early) Birthday, Bill! And dare I say Happy Father's Day since you are a proud dad of two pups? :-)

    I'm sorry your dad died at such a young age and am sure turning that age in a few days does give you pause. You're such a thoughtful and reflective person.

    Great reminder about meditation. Enjoy your birthday week!

    caregiving. family. advocacy.

  2. Thank you, Trish! It was a little early to talk about my birthday but I wanted to combine it with Father's Day sooo. I don't have time to write like I used to so I go for it when I have the idea and the time at the same time. In this case it was at 3a.m..Oy!

  3. Nice article Bill,

    You always make me pause for thought. Strangely dates in the UK calendar don't always match up to dates in the US - so although I live in the US I don't mesh with dates in June or April to 'celebrate' my parents. However, I have just had a birthday though and was thinking about my Dad (gone since St Stephens Eve 1999).

    Another year is always a time for reflection - we look into the mirror, notice the wrinkles and the signs of wear and think of what we have achieved. The loss of your Dad whether he donated much to who you are (other than a name) is as much a reminder I think of our own expiry date, its like starring into the fire while the fates measure that damn thread. Have we achieved what we wanted, have we left our mark?

    I heard an analogy once that we go through life with pieces of everyone we've known good or bad stuck to us... it's what we take away from each of our interactions which makes us who we are! Of course since we spend a lot of time with our parents in our early years that they have the chance to start the process. What we do after we leave the nest ... that's us but we take lessons good and bad from those we meet.

    My Dad used to say that everything good that happens to us is given to us by someone else, but the bad stuff and how we handle it is all ours, our character, our own shining strength. Those people who want to blame their parents... aren't interested in the negative lessons but want to take the glory for the good things.

    Happy Father's Day Bill! I know for sure we can look in the mirror and know that those who Fathered us would be proud to know us.

    Laine D.

  4. Interesting Laine. I suppose we do gather bits of people along the way. Hopefully we retain the good and discard the not so good. I tend to search out those who best compliment my own way of thinking, always listening to others but not always agreeing. I try to choose the people I hold close very carefully.


  5. Bill, I loved your post and the comments following as well. I spent a long time responding only to hit the back button on my tablet by mistake and lost it all! Oh well, this then is my slightly condensed version!

    Thank you for the reminder to get off the wheel to nowhere; I have been spending far too much time there! I am grateful for this blog, because it was not Father's Day, but rather your post that reminded me again how much my own father influenced who I am. I like to think that some of the best aspects of who I am came as a result of his influence. It was only a few days after my 9th birthday that I lost him to cancer, but he still lives on in my heart. I miss you Daddy!

    I also wish you an early Happy Birthday! I am right behind you dear friend!

  6. Thank you Sandy. Glad you seem to be feeling better. We sure miss you here at Camp Baustin!

    Love and kisses,