my dad rocks
today is my dad’s birthday. since he’s anti-materialistic (yay!), he doesn’t like for people to get him presents. so here is a wordy gift instead – a little appreciation for who he is, and what he has done for me.
when i went to rootworks (some women’s land in southern oregon) to pick up zeik and debbie last week, debbie pointed me to a huge pile of rocks that some of the visitors to the land enjoy climbing around on:
as i was picking my way around over the pile, i thought about how great it would be if my dad were there with me – he used to be a geologist, and watching him study rocks and listening to him explain how they were made is one of my favorite things. he’ll pick up a rock with different colored streaks running through it, and point to a black streak and say something like “this is where river silt that was trapped between two layers of shale hardened as pressure from the build-up of more and more sediment slowly forced the layers of shale together”. then he’ll point to where a thin white streak separates two different colored sections of the stone, and say something about a sudden change of environment – say a volcanic eruption or an earthquake – causing the minerals, temperatures, and other things affecting the formation of this rock to drastically change. while he’s talking, my mind creates visuals of all this unseen activity and the earth feels so much more dynamically alive. my dad had a huge collection of special rocks when i was growing up. some were incorporated into the stone wall by our driveway, some were displayed throughout the house, and others were up in the attic… i can still picture some of them really clearly. sadly, my dad ‘s career as a geologist suffered a fatal blow when regan removed funding for his gov’t grant; but although he stopped getting paid for it, his fascination with rocks remained a big part of who he was and is, in his heart and in mine. he’ll still stop the car to observe some crazy formation that was uncovered by the blasting away of a mountain to build the road he’s driving on, or bend to study a rock in a streambed or a cobblestone street.
and speaking of rocks, did anyone notice the bad pun in the title of this blog post? yeah… that’s another thing about my dad. i don’t think a single dinner conversation escaped unscathed by my dad’s penchant for puns. oh, lord… he’d let one slip, then utter a sheepish “hehe?” as his wit was met with a cacophony of groans and a wave of eye-rolling. :) love you dad!
one of my dad’s careers following geology was working as a contractor. he had a bunch of power tools in the basement, including a table saw, which he let me use for my own personal projects. one time i made a small triangular stool for my little brother, painted orange with yellow stripes and big red polka-dots. i really appreciate the fact that he taught me how to use his tools, and that he trusted me enough to let me use them by myself. it gave me a strong feeling of agency and capability that i still carry with me today – i really love trying to fix things myself.
something else my dad gave me that has been so important to me is an interest in meditation and eastern spiritual philosophies. he started meditating when i was a junior or senior in high school, i think. after going to college for one year i decided to expand my horizons on a road trip around the country with a friend. when i left, my dad gave me a couple books by his guru, eknath easwaran. one of them was a translation of the dhammapada, and the other was called dialogue with death, which is easwaran’s commentary on the katha upanishad. i read these (and the dharma bums by jack kerouac) on my trip and experienced a pretty profound shift in my awareness. while my body was being taken to all these new places, seeing crazy new things and meeting interesting new people, my mind was absorbing new information about the nature of reality and the importance of fostering a connection to something other than material existence. i still count that road trip as one of the most important formative experiences in my life, and the role those books played was huge. my dad now has a couple books of poems published, many of which are about spiritual reality. you can read some of them on his website, hdpoetry.com.
and one last memory, the funnest one of all… when my sister jael and i were really little, my dad played these two games with us that i will never forget. he’d get down on his hands and knees and pretend to be a horse, and we would get on his back while he crawled around and then, all of a sudden, he’d get horsey hiccups. we’d laugh hysterically while slowly sliding off his back from the turbulence. the other one was, he would stand with his legs spread open and make a swing by intertwining his fingers and dangling his arms down. we’d sit in the cradle of his hands, hold on to his arms, and get swung wayyy up high just like on a swingset. i don’t know how his back survived!
thanks for everything dad, i love you!