The Whole is Greater than the Sum of it's Parts 07-August-2009
The Whole is Greater than the Sum of it's Parts 07-August-2009
So the first thing I did today was google this. Turns out the whole world is completely missing the boat on this particular topic and has decided to use it as a way to motivate cubicle dwellers to play nice together at the office. Yet another way Corporate America heralds, invites, and in many ways catalyzes the end of humanity. Another story...
But this story is for my kids. Honestly I think it's just the summer that has them at each other's throats lately... so much time together, day in and day out anyone would begin to bicker I'd think. Nothing some time apart won't cure, and since we're doing the divorced/2-homes thing that's relatively easy to do. That's plan 'A', but is only a first resort out of convenience. Plan 'B' needs to be a little more complex, I think.
I love 'The Incredibles'... Until today it was just a favorite movie. Who hasn't fashioned himself the Superhero Dad in hiding at some point, right? I drove around for an hour or so trying to come up with just the right analogy to go with this story and didn't, couldn't, may still yet, but as of now I think this will have to do.
A while back Sophie said to me, "Daddy, Bubba and I fight too much, I think we should move to different houses." We weren't in the car, but it was still what I refer to as a 'Stop the Car' moment. That kind where Dad doesn't care where we are or what we're doing, he just *has* to give us some sort of babbling lecture!!! This one's important, Baby. I tried really hard to save this family, but it turns out even a Superhero can't save some things alone. Worked for Mom and Dad, right, so why not just get separated from my brother? This is one of those times you can't be upset with your child without being upset with the example you set that she's following. So I knelt, as I do on one knee so she's 'my size', and said,
"Baby, your family is all you've truly got in this world and it's the only thing you can count on. If you give it up at the first sign of trouble, you're giving up on yourself as well. I know you're too young to understand this, but if you ever need your Bubba, or he needs you, and the two of you are quarreling or he hurt your feelings last Tuesday or you/his or whatever, you promise me you'll always pick up that phone when he calls, OK? He'll do the same for you, and if he doesn't answer, you call your Daddy and God himself better stand aside if you need us. Promise me, Baby?" And I made Ezra make the same promise, even though I know they didn't really get it. Someday they will.
At the end of The Incredibles, they finally got their act together and worked in unison to defeat the bad guy. They had a lot of trouble getting there, but when it mattered, they had each others' backs. And standing alone they would have lost the battle as well as each other. The flexibility is useless without the force to throw it, the force field is twice as deadly in motion, the shape shifter is helpless with no one to catch him once he breaks free, and when it all comes down to the massive explosion at the end, the force field isn't the only thing holding that family together. Their whole is greater than the sum of their parts.
Ezra was the first born and because of that he was the fire that tempered his Father. I was just wild and unfocused energy before he gave me direction. I accomplished some amazing things before I was Dad, but those things were all so very misguided and lacking purpose. Sophia taught me that the heart of even the Warrior can be melted with song and innocence. Angela taught me that sometimes your best friend can also be your greatest enemy, and you should be wary of knowing the difference, or declaring any one person either or both... I'm not certain just yet that you can have a worst enemy who is not also your best friend, and/or a best friend who is not also your worst enemy. But I'm confused on a lot of things so that probably doesn't mean much...
Ezra is all the things that a Dad hopes for in a Son... Little League and Cool Cars and philosophical discussons... he is undoubtedly both blessed with all the things I pride myself on, as well as cursed with all the things I curse about myself to this day.
Sophia is Sugar and Spice and everything nice, Beauty that tames the Beast, the song that sinks ships, and the bold and daring defiant slap across my face when I'm wrong. She makes me question my previously concrete belief that humanity is doomed.
And let's not forget Dad. I've been Superman and I've been Lex Luthor. I've been both Mr. Incredible and the guy he was in the cubicles, which fittingly enough I can't recall the name of. His name in the cubicle role was irrelevant. He learned that he didn't belong there. That's all we need to know. But my kids need to know that Dad can bring down buildings when he needs to, he can stop a speeding train even if only barely and on his tippy-toes, and he can cut up dinner at the table even though it may not be as poignant as he might have hoped. Undeniable though in any case... Dad's got their backs.
And then there's Angela. I have yet to decide what lesson I'm supposed to learn from Angela. As my X-Wife, I of course want to paint her as the Villian, yet it was my synergy with her that created the two lives that now guide my own. She isn't all bad, even though it would be easier for me to believe that she is. I rarely take the easy way. All Villians are driven by a passion, and you can believe that their passion is fueled by insanity if you choose, but the truth is that there is at some level genius in there as well, or the Villian would never soar to the height of such. Petty thugs remain unseen by history. The greatest Villians rose to greatness whether or not they were truly misguided, but they did in fact rise to greatness. Angela will hold a place in The Rigdon History books regardless of which path she chooses. I'll try to save an hour or two before I take my last breath to let you know which she chose. I foresee that as a very busy day though, so don't hold me to that... But today I'm writing for my kids.
One day Sophie will call her Brother to bring the strength that has escaped her in trying times. Ezra will bring the strength of 10 men and the fury of a Brother with a Lil Sis whose heart is shattered. Because that's what he's good at. Dad'll bring the truck and the shotgun, because well, that's what Dads do... One day Ezra will call his Sister to cry because she is the only person aside from Dad that has ever seen him cry. And she will instill in him hope to try again, whatever part of life failed him that day. Because that's what she does, and what she's good at. Dad'll bring pizza that night, and sit in awe of his Baby Girl's gift of finding life and hope in the ashes... Dad has high hopes that both kids will one day call him at 2am to come change a poopy diaper and sit with a crying baby because Mom and Dad are at their wits' end after days without sleep. And Grandpa Scott'll be there as fast as possible, because that's what Dads (who hope to one day be Grandpas) do... but what we must all know is that whoever calls whomever, we/they'll be there. Quickly. And you all thought those rollover family cell phone plan minutes would be useless!!!
So tonight we'll watch The Incredibles, after which I'll read this story to my kids and hope that at least some small part of it sinks in. Violet would not have survived without Dash, and Dash would not have survived without Violet. Ezra may survive without Sophia's soft heart to temper him, but he'll be a Better Man if he heeds the lessons that soft heart of hers sees that his own may not... Sophia will survive without Ezra's quick temper to protect her, but she'll be a Wiser Woman if she heeds the lessons that tempter teaches her about who to trust and who not to trust.
Dad is still amazed at all he has learned thus far from his children, and is anxious to find out what else they can teach him. But they all will be better off with and for family, and their whole as a family will undoubtedly be greater than the parts that comprise it. Undoubtedly, Dad is a better man with them than he was before them, or would he be without them.
Cheers from ThreeFiveZero
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