Fathers and Sons (8 October 1985, Pt V)

Concluding the meeting of Tuesday 8 October 1985, Andy said that he had been helped by the suggestion to only work for a third of the day, because “I usually try and work for a long part of the day, and all I do is damage the whole thing by dreaming. When I speak to my son I have little interest in the conversation. I am in a dream and I just want to continue the dream. I had this attitude that work is a withdrawal from things to watch what is going on.”

Mr Adie asked him to bring a clear example, but Andy would not or could not manage it. So Mr Adie took the lead: “The question is, when I come around from my dreams, and acknowledge him, how do I respond? Do I respond from my personality, one of my I’s, or do I have a real contact with him? Perhaps I feel that I am giving him a little attention for the first time, but then what do I offer? What does he need? Here is the possibility of a marvellous contact. I am a father, yet thousands of fathers find that they have lived their lives, and never had any real contact with their sons. It is too late for them. But how do you respond? Do you help him with his writing, or in reading, or his arithmetic, or thinking about little things?”

“There is a possibility of advising him, as it were, from one being to another. Without lecturing him at all, do you share his sense of the universe, or is his sense of it already much bigger than yours? This is the point: the quality of the relationship.”

“Such a point does not even arise until you have brought yourself to make a being-effort to open to him, at the cost of these dreams. It would be so much easier to answer from personality and then go back again to sleep.”

“When you were asked for a specific example, you didn’t answer, you just repeated what you had said. A specific example would have been to bring the example of the dream you were lost in at the time he called on you. What was it? Did it have the nature of complaint, or of grievance? Or were you interested in something worthwhile? That is rather doubtful because if I am interested in something important, and what is important should have the biggest interest, then I am not cut off from outside, and I am more open; strangely enough, the more worthy my interest, the more open my position.”

“You can tell, if you are engaged on some work, related to inner development, and someone interrupts you, you can receive the interruption without stopping the work. And if you have to decline to cease what you’re occupied with, then you can do so without being offensive.”

“Yes, the work of relationship, wonderful possibility. You need that very much. Your son copies your manner, he copies everything. Even the way a father can leave what he is doing to give his attention to his children and tell them a story. They might not realise that, but it influences them.”

“I remember once seeing a child playing, and when he saw his parents off in the distance a shadow came over his face. Why should that be? It has a meaning.”

“Well, this has been sustained so long, it would be a good point to stop. The possibility of relationship: on what basis? If I can have a relationship with you, or you, or you, with some sensitivity, whether with a son or a friend … we would all have to take our armour off.”

Part Two

I would like to share something Dr John Lester told me. When his son was very young, he would come to the good doctor’s bed, just as he had to get up and engage with the day. At first, he would hurry the child, explain that he had to get up and shower and shave and so on, and send the child on his way. The boy never liked that, in fact he could not accept it.

So one evening, when preparing for the morning, Dr Lester reviewed it, and waited until an idea came to him. The next morning, when the child paddled over to the bed, Dr Lester acted as if he had all the time in the world. He showed no hurry whatsoever. But, he spent no more time doing this than he had in moving the child on. That is, he did not actually delay his own day, he just showed the boy an expansively calm demeanour. When he got up to shower and shave, the boy knew what was happening, and happily made his own way out. There were days when the boy would stay and want to help his father shaving, or shave himself, but that did not matter. Having played the role of a calm and patient father, with lots of time for his son, he found that he could in fact do far more than he ever imagined he could have with his son. In other words, his attitude to the situation was itself a factor in the situation, and when his attitude changed, so too did the objective situation.

Joseph Azize, 18 May 2020

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