“Mental North”

This time of year, I have so much going through my mind, having this blog to write in is so helpful to me. I hope it can be helpful to others as well.

Earlier in my Facebook status, I mentioned that I need to find my “Mental North”. It is my own term I have used, but it comes from some valuable life lessons my Dad gave me (God rest his soul). I hope I am able to pass them along to my girls to help them in stressful times.

I was never in the “In-Crowd” (I knew plenty of people who were, I just wasn’t/never have been, that cool…and I’m okay with that). I have always sort of been an outsider…I believe the term my teachers used on Report Cards, was “Unique” (kind of like that ash tray we all made for our parents in pottery class in 3rd grade). So often, as a kid, I was stressed. Daily life stressed me, and facets of home life weren’t any easier for me at all. We all have our crosses to bear.

When I ran to my Dad (who seemed to never falter under any circumstances…he’ll always be my first hero), to hide from the troubles of the world. He would comfort me, and then he would always tell me, to stay true to who I am. He would use the analogy of ship’s captains (I used to watch Captain Blood, and Mutiny on The Bounty all of the time as a kid, and my favorite book in “The Odyssey” by Homer) and tell me that even in the roughest storms, captains of HUGE ships have only 2 things they can always rely on: 1) Faith and 2) Their Compass. He also told me that you are blind if you only have one and not the other. He would tell me how if you base yourself/ your heart in faith, then whatever life throws at you, you know you won’t crack. But what is the point of keeping your head above water, without a direction to swim in? He also said that, when these rough times occur, when people are trying to knock you off your course, you have to have something to keep yourself pointed in the right direction, staying on the right path. Otherwise you’re just flying blind. So during those storms, the captain always knew where North was and set the compass pointing that way, and knew the direction he was supposed to be going. So you have to start by making sure your compass is pointing North.

So when I have encountered tough times, including my 22nd birthday (October 17h), when my Dad passed away, I have always remember to do a mental checklist. Is my faith steady? Check. Is my mental compass pointing North? Check. Then whatever ANYONE throws at me, I may bend, and I may get soaked, but I have to hold on, knowing I am still headed in the right direction, and this storm, like everything will pass, but it WILL NOT beat me.

My Father, in his passing down of manhood to me, was preparing me for life in ways my young mind would never understand. I find myself, now, when the girls get upset, to always remind them to never give up. Bad things will happen all of the time, and it is okay to be upset, but keep trying (hey, a blade of straw can pierce through the mightiest oak, with enough wind…think of the wind as determination). I want them growing up never thinking they can be stopped. I want them knowing no other person can tell them they don’t deserve something that they want. Truthfully, I hope to be half as good as my Dad in that aspect.

Being a Father is statement unto itself in Faith and finding/keeping one’s “Mental North”. Mothers are pretty much raised to be maternal (whether consciously, or subconsciously), Fathers discover, learn, and implement their Paternal instincts, all from “go”. I know, as an only child and NEVER having been around kids growing up, I was so anxious to meet Ayanna in those 9 months. She was going to be proof I existed on this planet. Proof that keeping my mental North all of these years were what I was EXACTLY supposed to do (Marrying my wife and the birth of our second daughter equally rank right up there). But then when I met my “babygirl” five years ago tomorrow, who knew that would set my ship on a whole new set of adventures.

So when I am in the middle of those storms of life. When the sound of the howling winds are deafening. When the wind is threatening to capsize my ship, and the rains are trying to saturate my faith, I stick with one stream of thought. Where is my Mental North?

-Until The Wheels Fall Off


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