This Father’s Gratitude
This weekend is Father’s Day in the United States and many other countries around the world. It is a day to express gratitude for fathers or father figures who have had a positive impact on your life.
I (David) am grateful for my dad, who encouraged my creativity, responsibility, and spirituality. One of his many admonitions was to leave the world a better place for your children.
As those of you who have read The Power of TED* know, I was not blessed with biological children (though I have been blessed with wonderful stepchildren). However, in a very real way to me, I AM a father and feel called to share a part of my story that feels vulnerable and for which I am eternally grateful.
First, some background.
The year was 2003 and I was living, for a short time, in the San Francisco Bay area. During that period, I was studying Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics, which is a model about how people, groups, and cultures develop. It maintains that human nature is not fixed and that humans are able, when forced by circumstances, to adapt to their environment by developing new, more complex ways of seeing the world that allow them to handle new problems.
A central concept of the model is the notion of “memes” as first described by Richard Dawkins. He said that a meme can be a cultural idea or behavior that becomes rooted in society. In this way, a meme can be like biological genes because they are passed on to the next generation just like some parents pass genes on to their children.
All of this was on my mind as I decided, on this Easter Sunday afternoon, to go for a hike in Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California.
As I made my way up a rather steep path, I was struck by a sudden realization that shifted my view of myself as a Victim because I was unable to father children of my own. I stopped, took out my journal, and wrote the following:
“High among the redwoods of Muir Woods, I pause and ponder a revelation as I climbed Oceanview Trail.
Much of humankind… makes a genetic contribution to (humanity) as parents, passing on genes and traditions and cultural assumptions. This contribution is quite consuming and time-honored in its importance.
My contribution – alas – is not genetic in nature, but, perhaps, memetic. For whatever reason, my fate is not to pass on genes or even mainstream culture.
My purpose for being is to make a memetic contribution through… whatever expressions evolve. This is not about leaving a legacy or ego or even personality – it is about fulfilling my Call.
Today I die to genes being the medium of my place in the species stream of evolution and am reborn into the memetic domain.”
It was a major letting go of the deep, deep disappointment of not being a biological father and, unbeknownst to me at the time, became the opening to what emerged in the next couple of years, the framework that is now lovingly known as TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®.
Those of you who are parents have probably experienced the joy and wonder of seeing your kids interact with others and mature as they grow.
That has been my experience with the “memetic child” of TED* as it has grown and spread across the globe.
You are reading this because you have chosen, in whatever way, to play and engage with TED* and have embraced “him” into your life.
And for that, I am eternally grateful!