Posts Tagged ‘learning’


Man of Steel

I have to admit that I am as excited as anybody to get out and see the newest Superman movie. Although DC comics pale in comparison to its counterpart, Marvel, Superman has been a longstanding part of every man-child’s upbringing. We, the masculine form of our species, have long been enamored with the idea of this spectacle Superman. A dude from another planet with values and morals beyond reproach, with only one weakness, if you don’t count Lois Lane, which I never do, because having a woman / love interest also be a weakness is so cliche it isn’t even funny. I could never stand that Lois would rather see Superman weak and get beat up in a diner rather than just be an awesome lover who could fly her around Metropolis on Date Night Fridays. That is not why I write today, although I would like to expound upon Lois and Superman’s relationship at some point in my life. I write because today is Father’s Day. I want to talk about the old man who brought me up and instilled in me the tenants of being a man.

There exists a thousand stories that I can tell that would prove the assertion that my pops, Lane started me early in training. If you have ever read anything about Teddy Rooselvelt, you would understand that, as a kid, this mountain of a man was weak and fragile. Afflicted with asthma and possessing a generally frail body, Teddy wasn’t the guy who one could see later leading the Rough Riders or hunts for wild animals in far off countries. One day Teddy’s father came to him and said, “Teddy, you weren’t given the strongest body, so you have to make it yourself.” From sick and weak to the Presidency–no big deal. The rest is history. I don’t really tell that story to glorify Teddy. He was a good dude, but I wanted to to point out his father, because in his father, I realize what it is my father did for me.

Lane Phillips, quite possibly the meanest man to have walked the earth, a man who is destined to be the subject of many an outlaw country song, the man who when cut bleeds like a wounded knight from a Monty Python sketch. Lane Phillips, the man who spawned me from his loins and then surrounded me with sisterfolk, the man whose mustache is rumored to be more full and thick than that of God himself. Lane Phillips, my father, and now my friend.

This is my dad in a nutshell.

I got in a bike accident as a sixth grader. I hydroplaned for one thousand feet (read ten or so feet) and came up with road rash all over my arms and legs. I was out of myself in pain. I was running around in circles, and according to my father, I was shedding my clothes like some moron, like I had entered into a state of shock and lost control of myself. People were gathering and watching the entire show. I was a star! My dad grabbed my bike. Walking right onto the stage during the drama, he grabbed me and looked at all of the wounds, probably making sure there were no bones broken. He put my hand on the bike and said, “you need to get yourself together and limp out of here pushing this bike home. Nothing you’re doing right now is going to make any of this better.” His voice was riddled with a tone that said, “wrecking is one thing, embarrassing yourself is another thing entirely, push through this and move on.”

A few years later, I watched my dad catch a fish. The fishing lure he was using had a treble hook and and was barbed to ensure the fish, once caught, stayed caught. While removing the fish from the hook, the fish jerked as fish do, one of the hooks went into my dad’s finger. My dad said one word and it was profane. With the hook through his finger, he still removed the fish and put it on the stringer to be cleaned later. The barb was through the skin so he had to push the entire hook through in order to get it out. He bled like his index finger was actually designed incorrectly and attached to an artery, but never said another word. I saw what a calm and cool reaction did for him and was amazed..He just pushed through and everything was better.

A few years later, I was attending Officer Candidates School for the United States Marine Corps. After jumping into a huge hole full of water, I felt an extremely painful and audible pop in my right ankle. Another Marine had to lift me up and we both kept running. I stayed calm, cool, and collected and finished three more weeks of training on a foot that was missing all anterior ligaments. When I told the doctor that I kinda was just brought up not to act like an idiot when you hurt yourself. The doctor responded, “How admirable, but its the stupidest thing you could have done.” What does he know, right Dad?

My Dad has raised me to be courageous in adversity. Something Superman never has to do. My Dad has built in me a longing to be responsible for my actions–a trait far too lacking in society today. My Dad has raised me with the values that your wife is the someone to be taken care of and cherished. My dad has raised me with a longing to be tough when things get difficult. My dad instilled in me a longing to give my child every single opportunity, but not to give them every “thing.”

My dad said to me recently that he sometimes forgets that his father is gone on to a better place and that there are moments when he will be thinking and he will have a question for his dad. He relayed to me how sad it was to realize again that his dad is gone. He told me stories about his old man, and how amazing and brilliant my grandfather was. I heard emotion in his voice and longing to have just one more discussion with the man. In that moment, me a mid-thirty year, became a boy again. And sitting there, in an honest voice my dad taught me another lesson. My Dad has taught me to slow down and not be as tough–to take the time to be a dad–to look at him as an example of all things good and bad–to take the things about him that I love and apply them, but to build upon other areas. He has taught me that he is not perfect and that the best parts of men are found in how they respond to their own failures and shortcomings. My dad has taught me to be a better dad than even he was.

My beautiful wife has given me a daughter. Today I thank my dad, because he has given me the foundation to be a Man of Steel for her.

I just want you to know, because I have been holding it in for years.

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