On Father’s Day
I noticed that every year I stumble upon the same photos of me and my dad that I’d post for Father’s Day. My dad lives in Indonesia, and the last time I saw him was last summer. I still couldn’t find many pictures of us together.
Then I realized that the reason why he isn’t in the picture is that he’s always taking the picture. Whether it’s an iPhone, a Chinese iPhone (“Xiaomi a better iPhone!”), a Canon 5D Mark II, or a Fujifilm, he’s the man behind the lens.
I remember the first time he formally introduced me to photography. He bought me my first Canon D-SLR: a 550D (in the US it’s called a Rebel T2i). I remember how he first taught me to use portrait mode. Before teaching me how to compose a photograph, he had made all the necessary changes so that the default setting makes for the perfect picture—brightness, contrast, and all.
That’s the kind of person that my dad is: instrumental, yet humble. He always ensures that everything is in place so that others can succeed, but he doesn’t always enjoy the spotlight. He’s always behind, not in front of, it all.
From My Father
From my father, I have my genuine, squinty-eyed smile,
my short stature,
my thinning, silky dark hair,
my golden undertones that tan from sheer sunshine,
my thick, thunder thighs capable of biking through rice paddies in Bali.
From my father, I have my humility. My father is down-to-earth and steadfast. Sometimes I find him firmly planted on the ground, not realizing how tall or far his branches have grown, how many find him so tall, so full of life, so worthy all the praise and recognition than his own modesty allows.
From my father (and mother), I have my morals. Be kind, do no harm, and share your knowledge and good fortunes, they say. And I’m learning to trust my gut feeling more, but I know that that the gut feeling is there because I have a conscience, and my parents have taught me to trust that which is within me and seek that which is Good.
From my father, I learned to ride a bike. I learned 1/2 + 1/4 = 3/4, because 1/2 = 2/4. I learned the rule of thirds. I learned to love the real football, the beautiful game. And I (semi) learned how to drive a car in Jakarta—even though everything is flipped and I kept turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals and even though I still don’t really feel comfortable doing it I do it anyway because it amuses him and I like to think that he taught me how to drive instead of a driver’s ed instructor in South Carolina.
From my father, I learned to value patience. To me, his patience seemed endless—even when he ran out of patience, he still had the patience to forgive. I aspire to be as patient as my dad every day and wish that the men I’ve let into my life would have had even a fraction of an ounce of patience that he had.
From my father, I learned that love is a verb. To be so far, and to be alone for long periods of time. To support his children living thousands of miles away in the Sunshine State without ever feeling the sunshine up close, without seeing the sunsets that are unseen from the eastern shores. To call and, more often than not, have those calls go unanswered.
From my father, I learned to love unconditionally.
For My Father
There is a house in Bali with the perfect beach-to-mountains ratio in terms of proximity wherein I can find my parents retiring, joyfully living and thriving as empty nesters for at least two blissful decades.
I know that if I can envision it, I can manifest it, and I can make it happen.
Everything I do now will be to make this vision come true.
Because they deserve it.