The greatest gift

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate a few things in life. I mean, really appreciate things. In my world, few things beat a good story, cup of coffee, heartfelt hug or giving something away to a person who needs it more than I do.

Many years ago, I was one of the only people I knew who owned an iPad. At the time, the device was still fresh out of Apple’s teen-staffed manufacturing plants (I found out about the teenage staffing many years later…) and I would frequent my favorite coffeeshop to write down my thoughts. I spent many, many hours on the couch at Cup O’ Joe in front of their fireplace, typing away my thoughts and imagining what my future would be like.

There at Cup O Joe, I remember meeting friends, family and loved ones to share life on that couch. Perhaps you’re one of the fortunate few to have graced that couch…with me or otherwise, it was a magical spot. Sitting there, I remember wondering what life would be like when I ‘made it’ and found myself on the receiving end of everything my heart desired at that time; fast cars, a full bank account, large house and fancy clothes.

These days, I have those things in as much measure as I want – which is very little. The older I get, the more I’ve exchanged costly things for things of value – the kind of stuff that doesn’t fade as time goes by, or become as irrelevant as the latest iPhone after its first software update.

When I wake up every day, I’m thankful to have a home where I’m spoken to with respect, treated with dignity and on the receiving end of hands that show love, a mouth that speaks words of affirmation and a heart that accepts love as freely as it gives it to me in return. I’m surrounded with the things I love and find interesting; from personal mementos in my years living around the world, to musical instruments that keep me sane throughout the day.

I have a wonderful, loving son that gives me the biggest bear hugs in the world and reaches up to hold my hand because he knows mine will always be there for him to grab. I witness the beauty of his smile when he wakes up and sees me there next to him. When he falls asleep, he comes to crawl on my chest and hug me until his eyes close.

Sometimes when he wakes up from a bad dream, he’ll cry until he hears two words:

”Dad’s here.”

After that, things go quiet again and he sleeps knowing that he is safe, secure and loved.

It’s moments like this that I’m most thankful for him my life, because they’re the few times where I truly feel as if time has stopped in place. Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, had a quote that reminded me of these times:

‘A minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.’

These days, I look at my life and see the divine order of things, as well as the great difficulties we must go through (sometimes) in order to experience the joys life has to offer. In the case of Atlas, I transitioned into being a Dad after two of the most difficult years of my life. Until that point of my life, I had never been abused, stolen from, stabbed or physically assaulted. Those moments are over now…and I’m thankful I will never, ever experience them again.

As Atlas grows older, I’ve realized there’s one thing I can do to love him the most; invest the time, resources and moments of my life to show him that I care. It isn’t through fancy expensive gifts or giving him anything he wants, either. That will simply breed a son who never knows the cost of anything and will ultimately disrespect me as little more than a disposable asset. That one thing is giving him me. 

That ‘me’ comes an an exchange of parts of my life that I used to selfishly cling to. This year on my birthday, I decided to give him my lungs – and made a promise that I would never smoke again. Nearly two months have passed and I’ve kept my word – and continue to…

As a Dad, I’ve learned a lot this year. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that a child that loves you is the greatest treasure life has given me so far – which I see through the lens of being a Dad, but also through the perspective of being a son and treasuring the relationship I have with my own family/Mom.

These days, I have a lot to be thankful for…and there’s no end in sight.

 

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