We Never Stop Discovering What It Means to Be Human

THE COLD RAIN FELL FROM the black winter sky to waken up the Dublin night. My dad and I walked through the rain under the dim yellow lights, physically as father and son, but furthermore, as friends.

I’d tell him a story over the sound of falling water striking cobblestone, what I’m experiencing as a young man striving to find my way. He’d tell me stories from when he was my age, his triumphs and misadventures, his fears, and the moments he’ll never forget.

Many of these stories I hadn’t ever heard, not in this way, at least.

It was one of the few times my dad and I had gone on a trip, just us two. I was taking it all in; the stories, the fresh night and natural smell of rain, the long walk.

It’s the little things in life that remind me of my dad; dark, ominous, cold days, and crackling wood-burning fires. These are the moments we love.

We were soaked, trudging through the streets on our way to dinner in a far off part of town. But we had jackets and we had stories to fuel our strides.

If the clouds wanted to dampen our spirits, they would have to look elsewhere, for there was surely a warm fire waiting to round out the night. We were savoring the essence of this foreign city.

I can’t imagine the love a parent feels for their child, as I’m far from having any kids of my own. But I have been a son for twenty-five years — I’ve been a grandson, I’ve been a brother. Each rung of the family tree brings a sense of wisdom, maturity, and experience of the world.

My parents looked to their own for guidance when they were my age, just as I look to mine. Our parents were our comfort when we were small, a blanket to hold on to that make us believe everything would be okay.

I’m incredibly grateful to say that my parents have always been role models in my life. My dad, the man I strive to be, full of heart and spirit and adventure. My mom, the rock I can always go to; when life has tried to dim her light, she has bravely shone on.

When we’re young, our parents seem invincible. Nothing can penetrate their well-honed armor formed from years of navigating trials and victories. When I’ve had questions, I’ve gone to them, like a troubled lad seeking the prophecy of an ancient oracle.

My parents will always be my parents, and I will always be their son. But I won’t be a kid forever. At heart, I hope. But life continues each day in which the sun and moon rise and fall. With that comes a life of my own.

I construct my future through the decision I make, where every day in which I fight to pave my way, I take a stroke at the blank canvas of the world before me with my mighty brush.

I don’t know how the picture will look when it’s all said and done, but it will be full of color, it will be full of zest, it will depict a life passionately-lived.

My parents, too, have much painting to do. In this season of my life, there are times where I’ve felt lost, unaware that the answers to the perennial questions of where to turn lay only within me.

But I’ve gone to them, hopeful that they could help illuminate the way through their experience being young and full of questions. Indeed, they have always inspired me.

Although in times of uncertainty, I’ve begun to learn more about who they were, not only through a son’s revering eyes, but as an honest friend.

As a kid, perhaps I didn’t want to see my parents as anything other than my parent. As an adult, I see them as much more than that.

They are human beings, with just as much uncertainty, hope, and life to live. We’re in this together, albeit in our respective seasons of life. Yet, no season is less demanding, or less beautiful, than another.

The bare winter trees, bereft of color and leaves, are just as moving as the burning red maple leaves of fall.

Perhaps we’re in different seasons, but all seasons come, go, and connect to what comes next.

People are just people, the ones we’re intimidated by, and the ones we feel sympathy for; we’re all here on this earth with a brush in our hand, filling a blank canvas with the colors of our spirit.

Something about that night in Dublin spoke to my soul. I saw my dad not just as a role model, a guide, a parent. I saw him as the kid he once was, as the young man he told me stories about, and as the man he is.

I’ll always look to my parents for guidance, and as a good friend should, I want to be there for them just as much as they are here for me. As my dad told his stories and I told my own, I realized, nobody has the answers to what life is all about.

The more we experience, the more we learn. This knowledge of the world naturally comes with age. Yet, we never stop discovering what it means to be human through the moments that bind us together.

I listened to his stories with a smile on my face. I’ll always remember this moment, walking through Dublin with my best friend, my dad, a kid just like me.

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