By Sean Dietrich
I am 67 years old and I hate myself for not having seen my son in 30 years, and it is my fault we drifted apart, I’m to blame. I’m a horrible dad. But this weekend I’m going to meet him and try to ask forgiveness, and hopefully begin to correct some of the numerous wrongs I have made. But is it too late? I thought I’d ask you, I doubt you’ll have time to answer this message.
My mother used to say: “Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it.” And I cannot tell you how many times this phrase has gotten me through hard times.
Just knowing that tomorrow is blemish-free, like clean notebook paper, makes me feel better. And believe me, sometimes I need to feel better about myself because …
I’m a human being.
That’s right. Like you, I’m a biological creature programmed to be self-preserving and self-centered at all costs. Many forget this little tidbit about us. Take me: I often forget how human I am. My wife, however, is always eager to remind me. Although, sometimes she’s too eager.
The thing is, some people imagine that our species is more than merely mortal. Some actually think we are enlightened, advanced or insightful creatures. But the truth is — and I don’t mean to be crude here — we are biped mammals who go potty.
Since the Stone Age, our species has been hardwired to think only about Number One. And so far, that’s what mankind has done.
Go thumb through a social-studies textbook. Throughout recorded history the most aggressive and destructive civilizations weren’t societies comprised of turtles. The truly brutal cultures have always been people. What swell guys our caveman ancestors were, impaling each other with sharp sticks so they could own more real estate.
I realize this is a dim view of humanity. Of course, not all mankind is this bad. Admittedly, there have been exceptional humans: Mother Teresa, Saint Francis, Helen Keller, Richard Petty, etc. But to view our species as anything other than flawed self-seeking creatures is, well … a mistake.
Give yourself a break.
Compared to other species we are as saintly as a bunch of sweathogs. Actually, many humans are not nearly as devoted as hogs.
Take, for instance, Prudence, a Welsh hog in Carthamenshire, Wales. A few years ago, Prudence saved her owner from accidental death when her owner sank into a muddy bog and nearly drowned. Prudence pulled the woman out.
“Without Pru,” said Prudence’s owner, “I wouldn’t have been able to get out of the mire.” And the woman would have died.
And do you want to know how pathetically human I am? After reading this touching story about Prudence’s heroism, guess what I was thinking? I was trying to figure out how to use this story in a paragraph and insert a wisecrack about bacon. I should be ashamed.
See what I mean about us pitiful humans? We’re a mess, but we don’t see it. When will we finally wake up and smell the bacon?
Oh, sure, we tell ourselves we have giant brains, opposable thumbs and superior health insurance coverage. We call ourselves the dominant species, and this makes us feel proud. But put us next to a Labrador and we appear about as loyal as a sea sponge.
Which is an insult to sea sponges. Some colonies of sponges have been alive for 2,300 years, filtering out harmful impurities and bacteria from their marine environments. Meanwhile, what have we humans contributed to our environment? The Kardashians.
I share all this with you because I want you to know you’re not alone in your humanhood.
I am like your son. I was abandoned by my father, too. I grew up feeling the same way your son probably feels. I’ve been where your son is. I’ve experienced similar emotions. Which is why I believe I can tell you something with near certainty. Your kid still loves you.
Don’t misunderstand me, this doesn’t mean your son will open his arms to you. He might not. But even if your son seems to hate you; even if he THINKS he hates you; deep down he doesn’t.
In fact, I’m willing to bet that your son’s love is like a pool of crude oil, buried deep beneath a surface of granite, just waiting to gush forth.
Sadly, I don’t know how to drill past that tough exterior slab. Only you and your son can discover this. But I can absolutely tell you how to find love during the meantime. You can start by forgiving yourself.
If you ask me, sir, you are not required to hate yourself for your wrongdoings. Neither should you hold yourself prisoner. Are you mistake free? No. You are a member of mankind, there are 7.674 billion of us out here just like you. You are not making this world a better place by beating yourself up. You deserve love as much as anyone on this planet.
Also, if you don’t mind me saying so, I love you, for trying to make things right with your child. And most importantly, because you’re human.
So I realize this column is filled with some stupid anecdotes. You were probably expecting something better written, but I’ve never claimed to be a sharp guy. I’m certain I have misspoken here, and I may have said things that are totally incorrect. All I can say is: oh, well.
Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it.