By Mark E. Smith
From the back of the concert hall, I see my daughter in the very front, standing on the choir risers. Even though the distance is far, we make eye contact and I smile big….
Often, it’s our obligation to make things right. If we don’t, then we, too, are perpetuating a wrong or injustice, further harming others. No, I don’t mean make things right because we’ve intentionally done wrong. Rather, I mean that if there’s a cycle of dysfunction, we must have the courage, wisdom, and tenacity to say, Enough! This destructive pattern not only stops with me, but actually changes with me. It’s a really powerful process where you, as a lone person, can change your life, your family tree, and the lives of many around you.
We unfortunately are cyclical creatures, following the pack. Although we have free will and astounding amounts of opportunity, we rarely use it. We know that our life paths are alarmingly dictated by those of most influence in our lives. The surest way to be a teen parent is if your parents were teen parents. The surest way to become an alcoholic is have parents who were alcoholics. And, the surest way to being a terrible boss is to be groomed by a terrible boss. These risk factors create systemic, generational wrongs – and they go on and on.
And, it’s up to us – and only us – to stop them. No rule book said that because my parents were uneducated, impoverished, alcoholic-addicts, I had to follow that path. Sure, statistics said I would. However, I’m not a statistic. I’m an individual. And, I’ve long known that I alone had the power to right the wrongs in my life – and I continue working at that every day. This is my life and no one dictates its potential but me.
Breaking the cycle isn’t easy. I’ve been there, and it’s a never-ending process. It’s a difficult journey because there’s no road map and usually no support. It’s like walking on ice for decades, where as long as you stay up, you’re fine, and the fear of losing footing keeps you laser focused on every move you make. Yet, the struggle is motivating, righting wrongs is empowering, and breaking cycles is liberating. You may have been born into it, but you can likewise grow out of it. Heritage, genetics, environment, upbringing – you can be more than all of it. Right the wrongs, break the cycles, and live to your potential.
…And, my daughter – born to me, where my examples of fatherhood were grim and bleak – smiles back as the choir begins to sing.