Sam Davies looks back on how he’s grown right alongside his daughters this year—and looks forward to trying harder on certain aspects in 2016.
Not to jinx it or anything, but in a few days I’ll have successfully helped navigate two tiny humans through the year 2015. What likely seemed like a near eternity to my two daughters, to me felt like a blink of an eye. I only bring up such a cliché because it’s 100% true.
In reflecting on the 2015 parent that I was and the 2016 parent I hope to be, I can say that my mistakes were many and my joys sincere. Each parenting skill I seem to master only exposes my deficiency in 10 new skills I didn’t know I needed. Just when I think I’ve finally figured out my iPhone 4, I realize that my kids have become iPhone 12 Pluses. Puberty is on the horizon in the next few years, and the only thing I’m prepared for is knowing that it’s impossible to be fully prepared.
2015 was not without its worry, as I’m an anxious person. I spent so much time worrying about losing some of the luxuries my family is fortunate enough to have, that I couldn’t appreciate them. As Alan Watts wrote in “The Wisdom of Insecurity”:
To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.
Only by embracing that I can’t provide my kids the best of everything forever, have I been able to live and enjoy the things I can provide.
As I try seek a more healthy detachment from things I can’t control, I have to be careful to watch my tendency toward too much detachment. Especially in winter, I want to hide from the world and I struggle to recognize the difference between being OK with potential loss and thinking that nothing’s worth keeping.
In 2016 I hope to find the right balance between just relaxing and living a simple life vs. being the change I want to see in the world. I’m older than I’ve ever been (and now I’m even older), and with that comes a waning of youthful idealism. Things are less black and white–you realize that nothing’s ever going to be perfect. All humans are hypocrites, but the idealism of my kids makes me want to at least try and make the world slightly better.
The problem is that I’m jaded to the idea that individual action by itself makes much of a difference. Take climate change for example: yes, I should make my home more energy efficient, ride my bicycle more often, and use different light bulbs, but those things, even in aggregate with my neighbors, will have paltry effect compared to effort spent actively trying to convince my government to take meaningful action for the nation as a whole. Or the fact that the NSA collects a record of everything I type into the internet: sure I can run Linux and Tor on my computer and stop using credit cards and cell phones, but it won’t stop for everyone until we convince our government to stop. That long game takes effort, perseverance, and time–three things I personally struggle with managing. In short, I want to show my kids how to not give up on the world, but also not spend all of my brainpower worrying and all my time away from my family .
I spent a good portion of my 2015 figuring out how to relax, how to be more at peace with life as it is, and being OK with life as it comes. In 2016, I hope to discover how to take that peace and spread it out as far as I can without losing it. I want to come home at night, cuddle up with my daughters, and feel like I’ve done all I can to make the world slightly better for them.