Robert Bly tells the medieval story of a boy who would become king, in his masterpiece Iron John: A Book about Men. The tale speaks often about a wound the boy received, likening it to the wounds given to us by our parents as young children.
For some, our parents were screamers; yelling inside of the house at each other…and anybody who would listen. Others watched their parents separate; tasting the bitter pill of divorce at a young age.
I’ve found that a lot of events from our childhood make it into our adult lives, waiting patiently while we try our best to understand them. It can take years.
In my case, I grew up with a father who had more ambition than time and money; making many promises to his family…many failed to see completion. I spent a lot of my life being really bitter about this. Really bitter.
In my early 20’s, being less like my Dad became my default; blindly shutting out attributes and traits simply because I wanted to do things 100% differently than he did; claiming wealth, success, a garage instead of a nursery, and a fast car instead of the Plaatmobile.
Yet, as I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate the man who put food on the table for six children and a loving wife, both who stayed at home to raise their family.
I found the bitterness began to transform itself into deep acceptance; embracing all attributes of my Dad and honoring them in his memory. Releasing memory of his shortcomings allowed me to focus on my own and using his lessons as a blueprint of navigation.
At 30, I’ve started to see how some things come full circle in our lives. The ‘wounds’ given by my parents have transformed themselves into assets, positive attributes, and shiny bits of personality sprinkled across their children.
For a man that couldn’t fly, Wim Plaat was my Superman.