Today is Father's Day in Australia. In my household, Father's Day and Mother's Day bear no significant purpose for celebration other than maybe going out for a meal, which we do most of the time anyway. But today, I want to dedicate this post to my father.
I worshipped my father when I was younger. It seems he could make no mistakes, do no wrong, hurt no one, know nothing. He has this natural, uncanny ability to command spellbinding presence in a room with his witty stories and entrancing jokes. You could discuss philosophy, history, politics, sociology, medicine, life sciences, mathematics with him, and never would have thought he was a man who did not have the opportunity to enter university, and whose qualifications did not extend beyond a high school certificate. It was my father who patiently taught me high school arithmetic when I was struggling with my algebra and geometry at school. While I have long forgotten my polynomials and linear equations, he can still spout fundamental theorems at will.
While my father has an endless spool of stories, he is a man of few words when it comes to his emotions. He does it best through the written word. And it seems I have inherited this aberrant trait of his in my teenage years, because when we weren't speaking to each other, we'd write: I'd leave a letter on his desk after he'd gone to bed, and he'd reply when he'd woken up while I was still dozing under the covers. Then the storm would blow over and we'd be talking again.
He writes to me constantly, ever since I was a kid. Sometimes it would be a short note, and sometimes it would be a longer epistle. In his writings I see a man who is not god, but who is just as human as I am. It breaks my heart to hurt him just as much as it is to see him hurt. We are so alike in our obstinacy and our inept aptitude at displacing our feelings that we sometimes don't see the grenade thrown at each other's faces. Which is why the following video of Hank Moody's letter to his daughter spells out so much: Hank writes to his daughter, like how my father writes to me. Hank admitted to not liking his daughter at first, which is unlike my father, who has never expressed any form of dislike from the moment I was born (I know, because I see pride in his eyes whenever he recounts the story of my birth). Hank is a broken, desolate, empty soul of a writer who finds solace in frivolous pursuits of women and alcohol. He swears a lot too. Hank bears no resemblance to my father other than the fact that he loves his daughter, and has trouble expressing that love to her.
Californication is not my father's kind of TV show. But this post, and this video, is for my father, who, despite our imbroglio of word play and silent feuds, means the world to me.
To my dear beautiful daughter,
I'm writing you a letter. That's right, a good old-fashioned letter. It's a lost art, really. Like
I have a confession to make. I didn't like you very much at first. You were just this annoying little blob. You smelled nice, most of the time, but you didn't seem to have much interest in me, which I of course found vaguely insulting. It was just you and your mom against the world. Funny how some things never change. So I cruised along doing my thing, acting the fool, not really understanding how being a parent changes you. And I don't remember the exact moment that everything changed. I just know that it did.
One minute I was impenetrable. Nothing could touch me. The next my heart was somehow beating outside my chest, exposed to the elements. Loving you has been the most profound, intense, painful experience of my life. In fact it's been almost too much to bear. As your father, I made a silent vow to protect you from the world. Never realizing I was the one who would end up hurting you the most.
When I flash forward my heart breaks, mostly because I can't imagine you speaking of me with any sort of pride. How could you? Your father is a child in a man's body, he cares for nothing and everything at the same time. Noble in thought, weak in action. Something has to change, something has to give. It's getting dark, too dark to see.
~Californication, Season 4 Episode 2~