• Nathaniel G. Sands

Know Thyself

Life certainly has a way of getting out of our control. Whether it is familial responsibilities, work, hobbies, fantasies or perhaps a love interest, it is definitely the case that no mind can comprehend all it perceives, no heart all it feels, and no soul can outlive all it endures.

Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting on my blog as much. The truth is threefold – I have been finding it harder to sit down and gather my thoughts, my personal life (work, family and friends) has become busier, and I’ve been trying to utilise any chance I get to rest (my body and mind).

This week I had a staycation. Although it was busier than I had hoped. Helping a friend move, taking Leah and her friend to Cultas Lake Waterslides, spending time with family and friends (and my dog), and working on my music. But I did find a little bit of time for some much needed rest.

On Monday I went with Bradley to Goose lake, a small lake found on the west side of Golden Ears Mountains. There is a little hike that leads to this gem of a spot and not many people know about it. I have been going there for years because I like to spend time intentionally alone, and hardly anyone knows were it is. Which gives me an opportunity for one of my favorite activities: skinny-dipping.

This summer we buried Lucas’ dog Sammi at the lake and continue to maintain his grave. For me, there is something very comforting about being amongst the dead. Often, I will visit the cemetery, and I find it quite soothing. I find myself able to maintain silence, spending much needed time away from the stresses of everyday life, reflecting on my own mortality, and simply being.

The day I found out I was going to be a father my entire perception of myself and my life changed. I was 18, and hardly able to take care of myself. I worked part time at a golf course with friends, leaving work to go jam with my band, go to the beach or hang out with my girlfriend. I had no plans for the future - no forethought; I lived each day enjoying life in any way I deemed fit.

But when I found out I would soon have an offspring, my entire makeup changed. I was made new from the inside, and although I still looked like a child, I had indeed become a man. And as any man, I began to make catastrophic errors.

I always perceived my father as something of a hero. My dad was good to me. Although he made sure to make it to my hockey games, and spend time with me and my friends, he was often not at home. Working as a nurse for Riverview hospital, my dad worked constantly. As a young parent to three children, he made every effort to get ahead in life and worked hard to ensure we could enjoy the spoils that money gives. I knew he worked hard for me - for us! And I respected him greatly for it.

This was my understanding of parenting. This is the father I sought to become. But like all situations, adaptation is key.

Upon adopting this new way of being, I started working in construction - tiresome labour for long hours during the week. I also joined the military, hoping to gain experience as a young man with no education. I found myself in the position of my father, working long hours and proud of it. I figured a good father was one who provided, whether he spent the evenings and weekends with his family, or just 5 minutes.

Having an infant made things difficult. I lived in continual lethargy and even a certain resentment. Coming home to a baby who seemed to cry continuously, hardly speaking to her mother, if so, only to wind up fighting. Perhaps my idea of fatherhood wasn’t the right fit for us…

Often, we fall into familial patterns. It makes sense, right? My father was good to me! I loved him and he loved me. So why did my little family fall apart?

Over the past 8 years I have spent a lot of time trying to understand who I am, and how I am to act. Because of my immaturity, I simply reflected the character I deemed worthy of reflection. But I have since learned life isn’t about becoming your father, it’s about becoming you.

He and I are very different in many ways. Our family is different. Our interests are different. Our culture is different. Is it really my destiny to simply follow the patterns of a dead man?

I have often felt that a day is only as good as it is productive. My mind often races as I go to sleep, wondering if I had utilised each moment and decision for the greater good, whether it be for those around me, or for myself. The daily struggle is deciding between what is best, and what is convenient.

Rest, it seems, is in short supply for most of us. But most of the time it is of our own doing. Many of us fill our schedules to avoid this fearful space of being alone. And most of us, when alone, will instead turn to our phones, unable to endure even a few minutes by ourselves. When is the last time you spent even 5 minutes sitting in complete silence? This is the lesson I discover while with the dead – those in eternal rest. It is in silence and reflection that you will truly discover who you are.

As far as we know, we each have one life to live. And as we thrive, survive, or fail to get by, we each have an opportunity to react accordingly. Don’t let others dictate your life. Spend the time and effort necessary to discover who you are. Think for yourself, love yourself, and know thyself.

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