I’ve had an idea for a blog post rattling around in my head for awhile. As I have been thinking it over, I have been collecting little pieces – scraps of ideas and slowly been trying to weave them together. But after a few attempts to string these individual snapshots into a narrative, I haven’t been able to nail it. So, instead, I’m just going to list the different elements here and let you see what you will see. Perhaps the juxtaposition of these ideas will spark something in you the way it sparked something in me. And if it does, I hope you’ll add your thoughts in the comment section.
Part 1 – Go Long
In college I played ultimate frisbee. When we wanted to move the disc as far down the field as possible we’d yell “Go long!” sending our teammates sprinting out ahead of us. Their sprint was in part an act of faith. They knew roughly who had a good arm and who didn’t. They knew which way the wind was blowing. They could see how heavily guarded the thrower was. But in the end they were guessing where the frisbee would land.
I realized recently that parenting is a lot like going long. Sprinting out across the field, looking over my shoulder, adjusting as I go. I don’t know quite where I’m headed, but am giving everything I got to get there.
Part 2 – Long Haul
Sometimes I’m amazed at what my love for my son can help me achieve – the distances it’ll allow me to go, and the nimbleness it gives me to shift and refocus. It is at once the fuel for my fire and the anchor that keeps me grounded. It’s my momentum and my mooring. It inspires my faith in the unknown place that I am sprinting towards.
But you can’t sprint endlessly or you’ll burn out. In terms of social movements Myles Horton called this “the long haul,” acknowledging that real change takes decades if not lifetimes. For Horton, the long haul was about not waiting for change to happen, but working tirelessly towards it throughout your whole life – even when you didn’t know what you were doing, because it was through the doing that you learned. Horton once said, “We make the road by walking.”
We do not become parents the day we conceive, or the day our child is born. From some moment – perhaps an imperceptible moment – we are always and already becoming parents, and we always will be. The rest of our lives will be full of becoming and being and we are in it for the long haul.
Part 3 – How Long Is a Mile
“So why do we do it?
What good is it?
Does it teach you anything?
Like determination? invention? improvisation?
Art? music? religion?
Strength or patience or accuracy or quickness or tolerance or
Which wood will burn and how long is a day and how far is a mile
And how delicious is water and smokey green pea soup?
And how to rely
From On The Loose by Terry and Renny Russell
Part 4 – Going Long
Recently, we’ve all heard a lot about short selling and the role it played in the financial crisis. Short selling is essentially borrowing shares, then selling them with the expectation the price will drop so you can buy them back later and make a profit. Thus, it’s a gamble – some of have called it betting against yourself. But we have heard less about it’s complement – called “going long.” Roughly, to “go long” is to buy stocks with the expectation that their value will increase. This is also a kind of a gamble – as is any stock trade – but it is based on investing in the potential of something to develop and grow over time.
Part 5 – Long Shot
Something unlikely; something that has little chance of happening or working. The term arose from the accuracy of early ship guns, which were effective only at close range and unlikely to hit the mark at any great distance.
In photography, film and video, a long shot (sometimes referred to as a full shot or a wide shot) typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings.
Part 6 – Longing
Everyday when I am traveling for work – which has been often lately – my wife takes a picture of my son in the midst of some toddler mischief or daily activity, and emails it me. It’s a glimpse of what he was doing that day, a snapshot of him at the farm, a photo of him going down the slide, a close up of his smile. Whenever I open those photos my heart aches in a way I’ve never felt before being a father. I long to be home, to be able to talk to him, to sing him to sleep at night.
Longing is really the perfect word for it. It is like reaching out across a distance knowing you can’t bridge the gulf, like shouting out to someone you know is just out of earshot. In that way, longing for my family and faith in myself as a parent all seem intertwined, all part of love.