Learning, the act of gaining knowledge, is a craft unto itself. It starts with questions - the what ifs, how abouts, whys, . . . leading from the unknown to the known, through inquiry, experimentation, travel, and of course pure accident.

This is about how it happens in my life.

Information Filters

For the past few years I've had a rather specific cognitive bias: filtering out anything that reminds me of what I no longer have.  This year I've learned that not only is ignorance not bliss, it is unachievable for a curious mind.
Two years ago I managed to be completely numb to Fathers Day: when Dad died suddenly in September 2009, in the midst of what was already a very tough year, numb seemed both natural and necessary.  Fathers Day didn't exist because I no longer had my Dad to celebrate.
Last year, in turn, I felt painfully bombarded with Father's Day messages.  The 3 weeks of flyers and messages, some of them really over the top, brought both resentment and regret.  And it lingered well beyond mid-June, a malaise with no cure.
The resentment is, of course, a function of regret: not spending the time I had; not telling him how much he meant to me.
Whether we like it or not, our societal constructs entail some very clearly defined roles based on gender and age.  Being a Father demands a mix of hard-headed responsibility, soft-hearted kindness and a persona that is both authoritative and welcoming. 
My Dad did not always achieve that ideal, and (like of all us) sometimes fell short of the mark.  What I know for certain is that he wanted to be a good Father; and he kept aiming for that.
This year I can celebrate Fathers Day.
The numbness is gone.
More importantly, so is the resentment.  It faded away in light of the abiding confidence that comes of knowing I was deeply loved and valued by my Dad.
The regret? That lingers faintly, and may never go away. 
That is, perhaps, a good thing: regret has (e)motive power in the here and now to help us avoid more of it in the future.  
Regret tells me that I cannot change my past; and besides, there would never be enough time or words to give a loved one everything in our hearts.
Regret also tells me that for the loved ones with me now, I can and should use all the time and words I have, every day.
So I am ditching my filter, rejecting my cognitive bias and embracing again what is no longer lost.
Happy Fathers Day.

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