Sunday, June 27, 2010

Passages of Time

Last Tuesday night I had the privilege of taking my two favorite people in the world, my sons, to an Iron Maiden concert. Rylee is 17 and Austin is 12. They've been to a couple of small "concerts" before (Wolfmother, Big & Rich) but this was their first full on "real" Concert.

Think what you may of their music, and the images associated with them - specifically the evil grinnig "Eddie" - but Iron Maiden has been around for over 30 years and is hugely popular the entire world over. They're music is complex and heavy, and my boys are quickly becoming big fans. I've personally been listening to thier music for at least 28 years.

The first time I saw the band was way back in 1983. I have followed their music ever since. The sounds they create have become as much a part of me as all the many other varied influences that have shaped my life. If you were to ask me "Who is Ben Phillips", the music of Iron Maiden would be one small piece of the many colored tapestry of life and experience that is me.

The first time I saw them back in 1983, I was a young 17 year old kid myself. Last Thursday I again got to see what is a part of me perform live 28 years later, this time with my own 17 year old son. He really likes their music. Will he enjoy it for the 28 years that I have, or will it be just another passing musical interlude, that touches his life and moves on. Much as many have done for me. Will this one night be another piece that makes up the multicolored tapestry that is Rylee Phillips? Only time will tell.

I cant help but wonder, what other pieces to this tapestry that is, and will be Rylee, are yet to be discovered? Will they be good? Will they make him a better man? What will they teach him? Will he choose wisely? So many questions about the man that he will become, that as a parent I wonder, and worry about. So many questions that only the passage of time will tell.

He is slowly spreading his wings. He is becoming a man. Reluctantly so, hesitant to leave behind the comfort that is childhood. But he cannot avoid the inevitable, and I know he is beginning to look ahead of him, to where he will go, and where his life will take him.

One thing that I do know for sure. That one large piece of the tapestry of Rylee, the one that we have worked together to weave for the last 17 years, is almost complete. The piece that is our father to child relationship, the piece that is "Rylee my baby, my young son, my young man" and "Ben my Daddy". I have tried so very hard to be the very best father to him that I could. I have succeeded. And I have failed. And I love him more than I ever thought it possible to love someone.

Soon.........hell....... its already begun, we begin together on a new piece to the tapestry of Rylee. To weave the relationship of Man to Man, Father to Son. Spread your wings Rylee, be all that you can be. You will always be my #1 son, and I will always be your Dad. And I will always be there for you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A metaphor for life.

Several weeks ago, just another Saturday, business as usual around the house. The sun was out in all its glory, a rare treat it seems these days. The wife and I were out and about tending to our house, our yard, our life. Because we were busy, going in and going out, I had both of the big garage doors open.

One trip through, I entered the garage and heard a buzzing noise above. Looking up I could see that a Hummingbird had flown into the garage. Finding itself walled in by unfamiliar, un-natural surroudings, it flew up to the one thing that did look right. The only patch of blue sky it could see in this sky as seen through the skylight window of the garage.

Having flown to the one thing that surely must provide freedom, blue sky, it now found itself trapped by an invisible barrier it could not understand. It only saw the blue sky of freedom of above, and continued fruitlessly to get there, buzzing against the pane.

I attempted to free it from its misery, but it was too high up, and too small. A fishing net duct taped to a wooden pole proved fruitless, only frightening the small creature more.

The way out was easy, was wide open, ready and available for the bird to use. If it could only see it. The two open garage doors provided a cavernous escape route. But trapped where it was this tiny creature could only see and focus on the one sure thing that HAD to be freedom. It could not see nor comprehend the invisible barrier that prevented its escape, so it continued to flail itself against the impossible. By only looking up, never looking down, it died. All the while to doors to freedom stood wide open. Just feet away from its suffering.

How human is this, to keep beating our heads against that which we cannot see as the barrier that prevents us from flying to our own freedom. To continue only looking up, looking at whatever path we have set ourselves on, and not see that it is ultimately the path to ruin, or failure.

Stop, look around, look down, look where you have been. Perhaps the answer to some of lifes struggles, lies behind us. Not in front.

R.I.P Tree

You got too big. You really didnt fit in, or even play well with the others in the yard. You got in the way. I'm sorry, but your time had come.

It took you well over 10 years to get as big, and as tall as you did. One quarter of my own life span, you shared this planet with me. I was only there for half of it, you started before I came to know you. And in the short span of only an hour, you were nothing but pieces on my lawn, and piled into my truck and heaped into my trailer. In only an hour, one small drip of time compared to the river of time you had grown, all that you worked for, all you had hoped to be....reaching for the sky. Was gone, forever. Your legacy? Just a few small pieces of firewood that will someday warm my campsite.

And so it can be in life. One small choice, one seemingly random decision, one odd twist of fate.....and the life we know, and have known for so long can be changed irrevocably in an instant. The future we reached to be, worked so hard to achieve.......gone.

Choose wisely.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To be, or not to be:

That is the quesion.

Running around on what often seems to be the Hamster wheel of life, doing the same thing over and over.  Day in and day out.   Is this what life is all about.  "Why am I here", "What is the purpose of this life". Questions with no real answers.  The answer can only be found within, when I can look myself in the mirror and say:  "THIS is why I am here", "THIS is my purpose in life".

The waters of life, and time, are increasingly flowing by, faster and faster.  What was once a far distant tomorrow, has now become a far distant yesterday.  And I run and I run to catch up with the sun....but it's sinking.  Racing around to come up behind me again.

Why am I here, what is the purpose of my life.  I am Ben, I am a husband, I am a father, I am a brother, I am a son..........I am me.  Sometimes strong, sometimes weak.  Sometimes invincible, sometimes fallible.  Sometimes so many things, sometimes not anything at all.

When this sojourn of life draws to a close, and I look back, and reflect with finality "Who am I", "What was my life all about".  Will I be satisfied with the answer.  I know I will have regrets.  Regrets that hopefully were lessons hard earned and learned.  But will I be satisfied with my answer?

There is so much I want to do, to see, to learn, to be.  But that must wait , while I get back on my hamster wheel and run in my own race of life. 

Tomorrow is another day, another opportunity.  Another day that all too soon will be yesterday.  Will I make the best of it?  CAN I make the best of it?  I dont know.  Questions for which I dont have the answer.  But they are questions for which I MUST find the answer.  To be or not to be........I choose to be.

And the first day, of the rest of my life.