Let’s call him Tommy. His real name is a little cooler than that, but that is not the point.
Happy 21st Birthday son, I heard his father say through tear filled eyes. All the while Tommy’s childhood photos played in the background on PowerPoint autoplay which totally messed with my OCD. I couldn’t watch the presentation as my frustration with the layout pushed my OCD through the roof for 2 reasons. 1) the photos weren’t even resized and centered (like normal people do) & 2) Tommy was very naked in most of the photos. Guys don’t look at guys regardless of how far back these photos were taken.
Apart from looking the other way, I was paying attention to his father’s speech. Tommy’s father was holding back his tears while toilet paper was the choice to wipe away the father son highs & lows over the past 21 years. The highs were elaborated and the crowd cheered and laughed and the lows were made highlighted but no details provided. To be honest, not knowing what these lows were that Tommy’s father was alluding too, they could easily be imagined as even the guests tone & vibe changed. Upon completion of the birthday speech, Tommy father gave him a 21st key that his father gave him so many years ago and then they hugged. And this is todays issue. It ended better than it started.
Having some insights of the family setup; parents are divorced, father has a new missus and the mom a new husband; while Tommy’s sister turned out to be a sweet 14 year old-ish and so what! This is an all too common occurrence and sadly a family’s journey ends different to how it all got started. Welcome to life.
The other issue is one of misquoting these lows. Far to often we all take lows out of context and make it seem that that was the turning point in everyone’s life and why things went wrong. Really?
Talking about misquoting. I heard an incredible quote by Ernest Hemingway the other day. “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Very powerful hey! Turns out that this has been horribly misquoted over the years. Key paragraphs before and after were left out. Go check out https://whatwouldbaledo.com/2015/07/10/six-things-hemingway-never-said/ Which is typical of famous quotes or father son speeches.
So lets get on with it and set the scene; a crowd of people sitting and standing all over a banquet hall while listening to the speaker and looking at the object. While the object sits in the most exposed area of the hall, the object is praised for past achievements, while the lows that are spewed out and steal away from their successes. So defeatist! Imagine if your life’s low’s (failures) were published on the front page of every major newspaper?
I personally don’t agree with family or friends highlighting or alluding to anyone’s past lows; with or without context. Providing or not providing detail. As if your or their life is so superior and without flaw? Logically I cannot deduce why people do that? It’s just foreign to me? Why use the one opportunity to lift up a son, daughter or partner and then allude to their lows and past failures? Flying fruitcakes people. Have we lost our minds. How is that going to allow them to enjoy the rest of the evening? Is this our best thinking when we have a speech to prepare for?
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Thanks for this Ernest. I personally think that “the world” Ernest was talking of is “us”. In other words, “we break everyone”.
If we are not using every opportunity to be kind in word to those around us, especially on special occasions… “we break everyone”. Life is hard enough as it is. Children need to hear their parents say that they are always proud of them, not excusing past mistakes, but not highlighting them either. Here is a life lesson. Discipline, but discipline with love. This is true for anyone, even those in a relationship.
Back to Tommy.
In context, I do believe that Tommy’s father never meant any malice or public rebuke of his sons lows. It was just an unprepared speech and the words: right or wrong rolled off his tongue. Personally, Tommy was fed several shooters before his father started his speech. Several during and many more after that. If Tommy heard anything that anyone said, his 21st was the first sober one in history.
Coldplay produced a great song called “Fix You” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4V3Mo61fJM&list=RDMMdfnCAmr569k&index=7). Sometimes people don’t need to be fixed. People just need a hug that engages the “autofix” function within ourselves. What could possibly be better than to know that we are cared for, supported and loved, regardless of the past!
Lean over and hug someone today. You’ll be blown away by the power, comfort and healing of a loving hug.