We were running late, and I was worried he didn't care at all.
"If I remember right, it's just up here on the left."
Another left turn, another five miles, another dead end. We were lost, and he hadn't brought a map.
"Maybe it's farther ahead. Let's try that."
We pulled a u-turn and drove six more miles before another fork in the road. I was frustrated, tired, and scared. My dad was laid back and didn't seem to notice.
We were on our way to Camp Cooper. I was 12 and just about to undergo my induction into the secretive Order of the Arrow.[ref]The Order isn't really a secret society, but older Boy Scouts play up that angle to impress and intimidate their younger peers. I was scared to death.[/ref] We were running late and I was worried I'd lose my spot in the initial Ordeal.
I was also worried about what exactly the Ordeal would entail. It's was a weekend trip, full of secretive ceremonies and mystery. I was terrified.
We made it to the camp and I checked in. I was late, but they were holding one last induction ceremony to start the weekend. I didn't lose my place, but was still worried.
As he left, my dad offered one parting word of advice:
"Remember, no matter what they make you do. No matter how hard it seems. No matter what, it won't last forever and tomorrow it will be finished."
Advice is a Blessing
That advice helped me through a weekend of thankless labor - during which I was sworn to silence and only given a handful if eggs and half an apple for food.
It's also helped me through a countless number of troubling situations since then. Backpacking trips. Marathons. The job from hell.[ref]I once worked for a man whose daily routine involved berating and cussing out every employee at least twice before lunch. I worked there over a year.[/ref] Illnesses. A difficult yet rewarding mission trip. Periods of unemployment.
Of all the advice I've ever received, words I've received from my father are the most precious: this one the most of all.
I've spent my entire life trying to live up to my dad's example: taking obstacles in stride, rolling with the changes life throws in the way, and living with the knowledge that a little temporary struggle will make future success all the more grand. I've looked up to my dad my whole life, and though he will likely never read this, you will and you should know how amazing he is.
Yesterday was his birthday. But I celebrate the amazing father, man, and role model he is every single day.
Happy birthday, dad.