We went to a baby christening this weekend. My wife dressed in a new outfit she got a few months ago, but has never worn, and I wore a dress shirt, slacks, and sports jacket from my collection of work attire from over the years. Recently at work I have just been wearing jeans and dress shirts to be more casual, so the jacket was about 10 years old. My wife had tried to nudge me to wear a different shirt, but I couldn’t find it. She had made a comment about a different jacket, but I ignored it. At the party after the christening, and more so in reflection, I felt out of place and shabby with the way I dressed.
I didn’t really think about it until last night, but one of the memories I have of my dad is him wearing the same suit to every semi-formal function like a wedding or a funeral. It struck me that I have turned into my dad, or at least that aspect of him. Not the suit wearing aspect, but the “I see that everything is OK, and we don’t need to spend money or time or thought on anything that I deem to be OK” aspect. Don’t get me wrong, my dad is a great guy. He is very smart and he provided well for my family, but I guess growing up we either want to be exactly like our dad or not.
Every man is trying to live up to his father’s expectation or make up for his father’s mistakes.
Seeing myself wearing that same jacket that I have had for the past 10 years, and probably wore to the past couple semi-formal functions, really hit me. I don’t want to be the guy whose suits and ideas never change. I am not saying that I don’t want to be my father because there are a number of qualities that he has that I wish I had. However, I want to be more dynamic. My dad is selfless in many regards. He often gives his time and money to help people out with their plumbing needs, even now in that he is in his 70s. Growing up he was a workaholic, but he didn’t really spend a lot of close time with me. He wasn’t able to say “I love you” and he would kid with me instead of talking to me. He did what he could, and I don’t blame him for it. He is a product of his father, just like I am a product of him. We walk the karmic cycle generation after generation.
The realization of the jacket made me realize that I am clinging on to more than just a piece of clothing. I am clinging on to an image of myself (and perhaps an image of my father). Holding on to clothes, possessions, and ideas about the world and about myself. I hate to throw away the jacket, but maybe it is time for something new. Maybe it is time to get rid of all the old clothes and ideas that I have about myself and others. All the ones that are worn, need replacing, or just don’t fit anymore. There are plenty of things lying around that just need to be picked up and given to someone else or thrown away. But yeah, maybe I’ll keep the jacket. I’ll also listen to my wife more. 🙂