While being in my 30s, somewhere in the borderline area between being a stable man and youthful enthusiast, I now have a more balanced and distanced outlook on my own father, himself currently in his mid-60s. A younger version of me might have looked more categorically upon both the strengths and the flaws of the biological reason why I exist, whereas the current I am able to discern the relative benefits as well shortcomings, and differentiate the crucial from the less significant.
I now realize that some of the things that I have done, partly or largely due to temporary and environmental circumstances, have moved beyond those of my father. In some ways I am “superior” to him. For instance I have obtained much more formal education, greater physical fitness, and travelled the world. (As a young businessman my father repeatedly visited certain European countries but only stayed in a limited number of places, like England, Germany, Estonia, Latvia and Poland.)
Nevertheless there are areas in which my father has reached higher grounds and serves as a role model. Since these things have some degree of general constitution I will share them with the readers of A King’s Castle.
Always Put Family First
By constantly acting in such a way he has manifested that he always makes family the main priority, and he expects the rest of us to do the same, without giving up on other more or less important matters. In fact, he has been a very significant supportive figure with regard to secondary things such as sports and hobbies. When I played soccer and floorball as a child and during adolescence, he was very often there to support me.
He often has told me that as well, but words mean nothing if they do not hinge upon real actions that conform to such notions. For sure there have been overlaps between more individual career goals and the family first principle, but it seems that those strivings were more means to an end rather than egoistic pursuits. If he managed to earn decent amounts of money it was so that we could go to Disneyland in Paris, something that only a few could in the early 1990s, at least where I lived.
Be a Breadwinner
This dimension is largely interrelated to the above-mentioned: putting one’s family first goes hand in hand with being a breadwinner. My parents have often complemented each other in a very appropriate way – when times were more rough from a private economic perspective my mother earned somewhat more money – but it has mainly been my father who was our breadwinner. It has always been his main role to play in life, like it was a card that was dealt to him.
He is thus the sole reason why we, at least occasionally, could move upwards the socioeconomic ladder and live in nice buildings and go on better-than-average trips within Europe. Some of these things were also due to smart hacks, such as renting a place to live in rather than bying real estates, but the money he made was of course the major reason.
I cannot think of myself as something other than a breadwinner in the future, although I would also want to be a great role model in other respects.
Find New Ways to Thrive
A third component that I have identified as something typical for my father, and something that I gladly have absorbed throughout life, is to find new ways when those that you currently are stuck in do not work.
However, sometimes that will take a while to figure out. For example my father was stuck in some counterproductive, or at least time-consuming businesses that did no one no good, for several years. If he would have moved to sales, and later real estate business, in an earlier phase he could have avoided five years of near-drought and relatively large private debts that took years to pay back. Instead he could have thrived and spared himself and those around him, my mom in particular, stress and slight despair.
But better late than never. For the last 15 years or so, and especially the last four of them, it has been nothing other than success for my father, although limited and relative to where he started. If I could find a link to my own life, I have likewise been very focused on particular goals that I have not reached or that were misguided to focus on in the first place, and invested time and effort in projects that give little in return (at least from a financial perspective). But some things have proved to do so, and some moves have been at least slightly successful.
Just because you made some bad investments – at least from a temporal perspective – it does not mean that you have to be stuck there forever. Find new ways to thrive.
Cherish the Local and Regional
Another thing that I have realized is that my father has a penchant for the local and regional, rather than the national and global. In this context that implies that he always cherish and pays deep respect to what is near to him. Whenever he and my mother have moved within Sweden he has been involved in local activities, often pro bono, and likes to take a walk in the woods with the family’s dog. He prefers the quiet life and maintains a tranquil presence, as long as he is mainly occupied with his businesses and various practicalities within the frames of family life.
As far as traveling goes he still prefers European countries like Denmark, Germany, Scotland, and Switzerland (with the U.S. as the exception) instead of exotic places like Thailand. My two parents and I, now in company with my girlfriend, generally make trips together for three or fours days every year. For instance we went to Vienna, Edinburgh and Zurich.
I appreciate those moments together now more than ever, because when I look at my father I am proud of what he has accomplished and that he has – despite various flaws and setbacks in a curvilinear existential journey – improved himself throughout life. I want that as well and in some regards I am unhesitatingly inspired by him.
Thank you dad, not just for the biological component, but for the lessons that you have taught me.