The Blessing of Life as a Whole

“The blessing of life as a whole, inherent in labor . . .The blessing of labor is that effort and gratification follow each other as closely as producing and consuming the means of subsistence, so that happiness is a concomitant of the process itself, just as pleasure is a concomitant of the functioning of a healthy body. The “happiness of the greatest number,” into which we have generalized and vulgarized the felicity with which earthly life has always been blessed, conceptualized into an “ideal” the fundamental reality of a laboring humanity. The right to the pursuit of this happiness is indeed as undeniable as the right to life; it is even identical with it. But this has nothing in common with good fortune, which is rare and never lasts and cannot be pursued, because fortune depends on luck and what chance gives and takes, although most people in their “pursuit of happiness” run after good fortune and make themselves unhappy even when it befalls them, because they want to keep and enjoy luck as though it were an inexhaustible abundance of “good things.” There is no lasting happiness outside the prescribed cycle of painful exhaustion and pleasurable regeneration, and whatever throws this cycle out of balance – poverty and misery where exhaustion is followed by wretchedness instead of regeneration, or great riches and an entirely effortless life where boredom takes the place of exhaustion and where the mills of necessity, of consumption and digestion, grind an impotent human body mercilessly and barrenly to death – ruins the elemental happiness that comes from being alive.” – Hannah Arendt ‘The Human Condition’ P107-108

This is why I love Hannah Arendt. I want my children to understand what she means by the above quote. That life without labor, without the pursuit of happiness through that labor is a life of avoidance of happiness. Labor and happiness are one in the same. Poverty is entirely effortless and boring.

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While the length of time may have been short, the impression she left on our hearts brought us all too new heights.

A good friend and coworker of mine passed away this past weekend. It is very odd to me that I have not taken this death with grief or bouts of deep sadness. I find it perplexing that I miss her, yet I do not mourn the loss. Perhaps this is because I knew her well enough to know that she lived without regret, lived life to the fullest, and had I been in her shoes I would have been perfectly at peace with what I had accomplished in life to that point. She traveled once a year and she loved it. She got her MBA and she loved it. She was smart, funny and a friend to everyone. She had the ability to pull everyone into a conversation and it wasn’t about her. She was so genuine and honest that her level of emotional intelligence caught me off guard many times. To which we would both laugh and that is all I remember with her. Laughing. Her business sense was sharp and yet she remained approachable. She would take up your cause when she knew you were right. She would hear you through, she was a release valve when you had something to spout off about work. She was respected and admired by all.  

 I would have cried a lot more and grieved her loss a lot more if I didn’t know her as well as I had. She didn’t live in the past. Not once did I hear a tone of remorse for something not completed. Not once did I hear a complaint from her. She was more of a listener. She was so content in her life that it made her glow.

Sometimes in life when a person dies the grief and sadness inside comes from not having told that person what you wished you had told them. In her case however it was always clear that she respected you and you respected her without saying a word, or if I had to put words to it, the word would be “Namaste” or “the divine light in me salutes the divine light in you.” She was a complete soul. She was the type of person you could start a conversation with and lose an hour all the while never losing interest. As it was, she was the type of friend that you could always seek out with time to live. She never gave advice unless it was requested. The best part is that she was this way to everyone she met.

I was simply blessed to have crossed paths with her. While the length of time may have been short, the impression she left on our hearts brought us all too new heights.

Dancedad is a Pisces.

After my last post about my twin Taurii it’s only fair that I reflect now on my astrological sign and how it might impact my relationship with my daughters. Girls, just so you know your daddyman is a Pisces which means I have a vivid imagination and yes a sense of drama. You might realize one day how much this embarrasses you and you’ll probably tell your friends under your breath “just don’t make eye contact. . . it only encourages him” or perhaps you’ll have to yell loudly “When you reenact Garth & Wayne doing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ it hurt’s my feelings!”

You will also notice that I like to seem mysterious so that people will assume I am a lot deeper and more reflective then I really am. In reality just want attention. You see. At heart I’m a child just like you. O your poor mother, she has three children, one just happens to have grey hair.

You know how you two lovely ladies can be so emotional at times, almost to the point that others find the ups and downs hard to deal with. Yeah your very much like me, I experience a heightened level of jealousy and betrayal that is unmatched by most other astrological signs. I try to hide the fact that my feelings are completely crushed when you do not pick me to sit with on the coach. One of you is more sympathetic and comes over to sit with me sometimes. The other picks up on my weakness and says indigently “I want mama!”

My excitement level actually changes my voice, very similar to how it does yours. Although I must admit that I’ve learned to stop the shrillness when people stare at me from across the room. Remember that just because we share this trait does not mean that I enjoy listening to your sustained shrieking when you get that toy or stuffed animal you’ve been asking for.

As you grow older you might notice that I tend to forget anniversaries, birthday’s and all things important to you or others for that matter. The only way I remember most things is . . . your mother. But in my defense, if there is something in it for me, I remember! I’ve gotten wiser and started putting birthdays in my planner, so no worries I won’t forget your birthday.

You’ll also notice that I love love love to talk about myself.  I will find any way to interject my life story into your story, and it will completely be off topic. It was the most charming aspect of me that I had to turn off completely in order to impress your mother. (now that we are married . . she still expects me not to talk about myself. . . and so I have to talk about myself at work, I’m certain my coworkers love that!) We seem to share this love of talking because you both could talk all day long about all kinds of thoughts and ideas pulling from a hodgepodge from books, TV and things you’ve overheard. Of course nothing coherent or remotely interesting . . . much like this blog.

I often have found it useful to show my emotions in order to get you to do something. For example I act really excited about winning the race to brush my teeth and say things like “I’m going to smoke you!” and you eat this right up! I dread the day you realize this is just an act. Sometimes I fear you’ve caught on, but so far so good. I also enjoy acting like a talk show host using the microphone toy saying in my best prize winner announcer voice “WHO WANTS TO PICK UP THAT BOOK RIGHT OVER THERE? . . . NOW IF YOU CAN SHOW ME WHERE IT BELONGS YOU WILL WIN THIS SHINNY NEW . . . PENNY” I’m amazed that it actually works. You two just love it. Problem is, being a Pisces I’m also very lazy and so this game takes a lot of energy, so most nights I just clean up after you go to bed rather than exert all the energy and amazing acting skills required to get you pumped to clean up your mess. If I’m really lazy, I fall a sleep after reading to you and mom has caught on to that trick. She doesn’t pick up while I sleep anymore. I guess it’s lost it’s cuteness after a year.

Apparently Pisces are good counselors, doctors, nurses and hypnotist. I can tell you this I despise counselors as I believe that no one should have to pay someone to listen to them, one because I’m a cheap ass, and two because good friends are better then counselors. I can however be your counselor, and I promise not to work my life story into yours. I will listen. I will continue to be your doctor for removal of slivers and wood ticks, your nurse when I put on those band aids we bought because they have princesses on them. (even though the cut isn’t really there and you’re not really crying, but I put the band aid on just to move on with my day because there are more important battles than this one). Of course I am very skilled at hypnosis & self hypnosis as you are well aware because when I read to you at bed time we both fall asleep.

Twin Taurus’

According to astrology my daughters are both Taurus’ but only some of the traits apply to one or the other. The first born does a great job of fooling most people. Yes I can tell when your not really sleeping. . . your mom might fall for it but I see the faintest smirk from the very corner of your mouth. I know because I used to do the same thing, in fact I still do. You see if I fake sleep for a little while longer I can wake up to a nice breakfast already prepared. Though mother may have caught on to this by now, just don’t tell her OK. It also helps to eat really slow so that I don’t have to do the dishes, no sir, not me I’m still eating, what’s that you ask “am I done with that…O no you shouldn’t have. . . ” So don’t think for a minute that you have this daddyman fooled.

Also when you my precious second born lectured me in the car about not littering because it’s very bad for the environment, and the police will come and give me a ticket. . . well I know that your concern is not the environment because I’ve seen you drop the candy wrapper and say “it’s OK daddy the birds will eat it” 

You two Taurus’ of mine o how you are good at tantrums and I expect you to continue in this manner long after your childhood has vanished. Your poor husbands will be tormented and most likely rich, as we all know Taurus’ are all about money. The cuteness of emptying my coin jar to fill your pretty little purse may seem like a game to everyone now but it won’t be cute at age 27 when I’m posting your bail for pick pocketing.

Most of the time my girls appear cheerful and laid back but beneath that charm lies a smooth operator pulling the strings behind the curtain with that same smirk that most never realize is there.

Some times I’ve been silly enough to ask a question just before bedtime or at the dinner table just to try and change the subject and get them more engaged. What I get instead is the blunt and plain English exactly what they think and without hesitation. For example when asked if she would like to be in her own dance class one replied “How would you like it if I put you in your own dance class!” or the other who said, “I will not be subjugated to your temper tantrums.” When all I did was raise my voice to tell her not to pull the chair out from under her sister. If I give you a little time you’ll talk my ear off while I fall asleep, note also that I’m one to fake sleep just to get you to stop talking and fall asleep yourself. Does this approach work? Hardly ever. Even though I’ve perfected my smirk and it’s barely visible, it took many years to master this skill. 

As a Taurus you both think that everyone is out to take away your toys. You hoard them just to marvel at the pile, not to play with them. What really makes you a Taurus is how you both act like the toy is still in yours even if you haven’t played with it for hours. 

One child doesn’t fit the Taurus mold in that she is very adventurous the other is so frightened of risk, of heights, of falling or getting dirty. Also the risk of showing affection toward your own daddy is so great that one will not accept kisses or give them, she will blow kisses and hugs on occasion. Loving another is way to time-consuming, messy and selfless for my first born who often gives off the attitude “what’s in it for me” or “I could do better” all the while we adults are just cooing and googly eyed just to get a knuckle bump. The other puts her heart out to anyone and is very compassionate almost to a fault. She being the second born must be up to something sinister. 

Both of you are theatrical, exaggerated and overexcited especially when opening presents. I know you don’t get this from your mother, she didn’t even shed a tear when I gave her the amazing Kitchen Aid food processor for our first Christmas. Instead she muttered something about “o lovely kitchen appliance. Now I can cook more and slave away even more efficiently.” Go figure. 

Another thing about Taurus’ they do not take hints and are immune to subtlety, like laying them down for bed turning off the lights and walking out of the room.  Any routine that we as parents have been trained to preform would seem to be obvious by now. Bath, Brush teeth, and read book followed by bedtime music still seems to them to be negotiable. Everything is on there terms even if daddy hasn’t completely come to realize this yet. “How many more bites do I need?” “You haven’t even taken a bite yet!” “How about 3?” you know that they already won the sale because they opened up the negotiation, to these preschoolers it’s just a game. To the parents it starts out a game and then we cave out of sheer loss of stamina! It’s like that grueling LSAT designed to wear you down and drain you mentally until you just don’t give a sh!t. 

They are very sticklers for details, far too bogged down in petty rules like “Daddy your a boy you can’t sing a girl song.”  The best is when they never ever forget, even a week later. . . “Daddy you said if I made it all the way home with my skinned knee and was brave you would give me the big pink lolly pop!” I can’t remember what I had for dinner yesterday and you remember that from a week ago. I was saying anything to keep you focused on anything but the pain of the knee scrap and that I didn’t have a band aid with me. It worked until a week later when payment was over due.