Swords, Model Cars, and the Capacity to Hurt
When I was a kid, my dad went on a trip to Europe to shoot a music video. This was back in the 90's when Christian rock was huge and people spent a ton of money on making music videos. Somehow, during the time that he was gone, I realized that there would be swords involved.
Honestly, I don't know how it happened or why it happened, but I somehow knew that dad was going to be shooting at castles and historic places and that there would be swords involved. When you're a boy growing up in Oklahoma and you have a little brother, swords are a very cool thing. So while dad was gone for, what I assume was a few weeks, my little brother and I got it built up in our heads that dad was going to bring us back swords as a souvenir. Whenever dad went on business trips we always got a souvenir.
So the day finally came when dad walked back in the door of our apartment and Devin and I freaked out. We were ecstatic to see him, but wanted to play it cool because I realized it was a special moment for dad--giving us our swords that is--and I wanted him to enjoy giving them to us. Also, I didn't want to seem like that spoiled bratty kid who jumped on his dad for his toy as soon as he walked in the door. In our house, that was the type of behavior that could lead a kid to not getting his souvenir for a while and that just wasn't acceptable.
Finally the time came and dad sat us down in the living room to give us our swords--I mean souvenirs.
He pulled a couple boxes out of his bag and I did that thing kids do where their emotion is written all over their face and they have no idea how to mask it--I was insanely disappointed. The boxes did not look like they had swords in them. They didn't, they were model cars.
Pretty sure I even said, "but where are the swords?"
Of course any adult can tell you that historic model cars from Europe are a pretty darn cool gift, but not to kids who were expecting swords (once again, no idea where that expectation came from). The weird part was the way that my dad reacted. He was very, very sad. If I remember correctly, my dad got up and walked out of the room and my mom went to console him as Devin and I opened the model cars and did our best to play with them.
My mom would eventually explain the situation to Devin and I. She told us we had hurt our dad's feelings and that it wasn't our fault, but that he was really excited to see us and we were so focused on getting swords that we hadn't even given his gift a chance. Also, she explained that the gifts really didn't matter and that dad loved us. Duh--we knew that, we just wanted to fight each other with play swords!
The Capacity to Hurt
Dad came back into the room and we hugged and all was forgiven, but I think something changed in me that day. I realized that I had the capacity to hurt people. Prior to that, I'm sure I'd been scolded for picking on Devin or other kid things, but I'd never hurt an adult (to my knowledge).
That day I started the process of learning that I am not an island. I have the ability to hurt or to help and it is my responsibility to my fellow humans that I act accordingly. Maybe that's why I get so frustrated when I hear people say things like, "well that's just how I am and you need to get used to it" as if the world's current should learn to divert itself around them. If we're all ships, they're the glaciers. I'm trying to be more conscious of the reality that every day I impact people whether I'm aware or not.
Also I still have the model cars.