Posts Tagged ‘ The Matrix ’

This Christmas Felt More Like Thanksgiving (And Back To The Future)

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

3 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Today is New Year’s Day, but it feels to me like we’re a week into 2014 already.

I think it’s because your 3rd birthday was about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving was a week closer to Christmas than it normally is.

Maybe I’m sort of stuck in a time warp continuum. I don’t know if this more like being back to the future or back in the past.

Somehow, Christmas felt more like Thanksgiving to me.

But not just because of that time warp continuum thing. It’s because this Christmas, I actually did what I guess people are supposed to do at Christmas:

I turned off all the lights in my head except for one and realized: Hey, I’m grateful and thankful for all the blessings in my life.

While I’m disconnected from 99.9% people living on this planet, because I’ve never heard of them and they’ve never heard of me… plus 100% of those who already came and went before I ever ended up on planet Earth, I am connected to enough right now to make me feel alive; to remind me that life isn’t simply a grand scheme taking place inside of a computer chip in somebody’s brain; at least, I think that’s what the plot of The Matrix was about.

There’s something about the actual origin of Christmas that at least peripherally points to the meaning of life.

To me, I would simply say that the meaning of life is to give life meaning, which requires being involved in other peoples’ lives.

And that’s something I was very aware of this Christmas.

As a family, we are by default those people who influence each other, and bring meaning more than anyone else we know.

So to think that I’m really nobody that special or famous or great in relation to entire world, it is both rewarding and humbling to know that I am a VIP in your eyes.

I remember back a couple of months ago during my lunch break from work, scurrying back and forth between Target and Toys R Us, trying to figure out who had the better selection of Disney’s Planes toys.

Mommy had given me the task of picking one out for you. My instincts told me to pick El Chupacabra, based on my predictions of you liking how he looked and as a quirky way to celebrate our shared portion of Mexican blood.

After all, I’ve bought you enough toys now to have a decent idea of what impresses you.

Without any prompt, the day after Christmas, you discreetly sort of pulled me aside in a way that a 3 year-old boy does, and told me, “Daddy, I like that plane you got me.”

I don’t think you could have known that was one of the few gifts that I had complete creative decision in picking out; Mommy chose most everything else herself, from the gifts we got for you.

It may seem like a simple story or even just a fortunate coincidence, but the fact you made an effort to tell me how you felt about that $4 plane I got you… well, it made my day.

And my Christmas.

 

Love,

Daddy

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The Gospel According to Jack

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Nine months.

If I wasn’t a devout Christian, what would I believe in instead; especially after becoming a dad? I try to imagine…

I don’t have enough faith to believe in nothing at all, so I would probably think that my life as I know it is just a figment of some big computer program in which I play a small role; unaware of how insignificant I really am; basically, I’m getting the idea from the movie The Matrix. Or maybe I would believe my life is simply a dream inside of a dream inside of a dream, like in the movie Inception.

Either way, it’s clear to see that if I didn’t take the words of Jesus Christ literally, along with all 66 books of The Bible, that I still would be led to believe that I am part of someone else’s plan; that there is some all-powerful force behind it all and for some reason I was chosen to play a part in it.

Something I hear other parents say a lot, or at least grandparents, is that when they look at a young baby, they see an innocent angelic being. I’m not knocking that concept, because I totally get it. But for me, what I see more of when I think deeply about my son Jack, is a human currently incapable of understanding right from wrong, but who nonetheless needs no instruction on how to make the most destructive decision possible.

Jack naturally would choose to crawl down the stairs if I wasn’t there to stop him. He would stick my car keys into the electrical outlets if I wasn’t already 23 steps ahead of him. He would never sleep, never get his diaper changed, and never leave the presence of his parents- using his crying power to try to sway his parents’ interception.

So the fact that Jack needs no help in being prone to make the wrong decision would definitely say something to me if I had no religious beliefs. It would clearly show me that despite man wanting to be good, on his own, he is prone to do the opposite.

That would cause me to realize that as a human, I am in need of some kind of intervention or path to lead me to be reconciled of my flawed nature- which is wired with good intentions but ultimately bugged with morality viruses.

But I wouldn’t be okay with the belief that there is simply some “higher power” who would usher me into a heavenly afterlife just because I was a “good enough” person. Because what exactly would be the standard of “good?”

What would make the most sense to me at this point is that there must be a God who not only created this whole universe but who also Himself would be willing to intervene in my morally imperfect state, helping restore flawed mankind to the state of Paradise that this world once was.

That way of thinking would ultimately cause me to be curious enough to pick up a free Bible in a hotel room somewhere and start reading The Old Testament, taking notice of the reoccurring theme of a perfect man who would eventually show up to willingly take on imperfection and sacrifice his life for all of mankind.

Then as I would move on to The New Testament, I would read about how God Himself came to Earth in the form of man; bringing to life the ancient predictions of The Old Testament.

I would ultimately become fascinated by this Jesus fellow, eventually believing that He was the answer to my state of moral depravity. I would recognize that no matter how hard I tried to be good enough on my own, I would ultimately fail and never be “good enough.”

Humbled of my pride and eager to embrace this mysterious yet somehow practical savior, I would become a solid believer in this man from Galilee.

Even if He wasn’t God, who He claimed to be, I would still be so enamored by a man who has managed to lead so many millions of people astray by his false teachings within the past 2000 years, and who could cause people who didn’t believe in Him to still at least say he was a good teacher, despite Him being dead wrong or even lying to people that He was God.

And that’s how ultimately, I would have become a follower of Christ, simply by observing the nature of my son. That is the gospel according to Jack.

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Bedtime Routines for Rocking My Baby to Sleep

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Nine months.

Now that I’ve been a parent for nine months (as long as my wife was pregnant with our son), I have gained some confidence in finding some consistency with this whole thing. Through some quick Internet research, I taught myself how to get Jack to sleep through the night. Granted, he almost always puts up a fight when it’s bedtime, but even he recognizes the comfort of routine.

The last bit of fun that happens for him before his bedtime routine is that he gets a bath, along with plenty of attention from my wife and I.  But once I walk into the bedroom with him for bedtime, it’s all business: I don’t look at him, smile at him, touch his skin, talk to him, or feed him.  This may seem a bit harsh, but the key is to not engage him or emotionally comfort him in any way.

Comfort is only obtained by him falling asleep. Granted, I make sure he’s physically comfortable as I’m holding him and rocking him.  The room, the blanket, the tone I set; it’s all exclusive to his daily bedtime routine and naps.  It’s the only time he experiences that version of me.

Note: In the following pictures you will see me demonstrating with a Sleep Sheep, not my actual son.  The flash on the camera while he’s trying to fall asleep would have been pretty counterproductive!

My son knows that when I sit him down on his bedroom floor and he watches me unfold his blanket on the extra twin bed, I am about to pick him up to wrap him in a “baby burrito.” Or maybe it’s more like a “baby corn husk” because he likes to have his arms hanging out.

The moment I put my hands under his arms to lift him, he stands up, then leans back Matrix style facing the blanket, hysterically crying as he turns towards the bed.  I call it his “wailing wall” routine.

But sure enough, the moment I lay him down on that blanket and begin to wrap him up, he gets quiet and calms down. He lets me rock him for a minute with his head resting on my bicep (my left arm) and my right hand supporting his lower back; then he starts trying to sit up as to escape my embrace.

So I challenge him: I slightly tilt him backwards to make it harder to sit up. After he has completed three or four of what I call his “impossible sit-ups,” he’s ready to give in to my comforting strength.  Usually by that point he is officially ready to fall asleep.

To hypnotize him into a “sleep trance,” I “shoosh” him to the rhythm of the first line of “This Old Man.”  Then when his eyes close and he starts a slower breathing pattern, I switch to a “Darth Vader snoring” noise to match him. He is asleep at this point.

After a minute or so, when I can see he is in a decently deep sleep, I quickly set him down in his Graco Travel Lite crib and start rocking it back and forth like he’s in a boat at sea.  A minute later, I sneak out of the room, still making my “Darth Vader snoring” white noise until I shut the door.

If he wakes up later during the night, I wait ten minutes before going in to help him back to sleep.  The reason is that almost every time, he falls back asleep on his own.  Usually he’s just transitioning into different sleep cycles when I hear him cry for a minute or so.

It’s weird, but it’s the routine that he and I share every evening at 7 o’clock.  It used to take 90 minutes to get him to sleep and he would continue waking up every few hours to be fed again.  Now, it only takes around 10 minutes or less and he usually sleeps through the night undisturbed until 6:20 AM the next morning. That’s the power and comfort of routine.

I have to put some perimeters on the sometimes overwhelming open-endedness of life. I can’t imagine things any other way.

This has been a sequel to “Getting My Infant to Sleep through the Night,” which itself was a sequel to “Is It Wrong to Let Your Baby Cry It Out?“.

Additionally, it is also a spin-off of “There’s a Certain Comfort in Routine.”

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