About Humans

DEAR SEAN:

I am 67 years old and I hate myself for not having seen my son in 30 years, and it is my fault we drifted apart, I’m to blame. I’m a horrible dad. But this weekend I’m going to meet him and try to ask forgiveness, and hopefully begin to correct some of the numerous wrongs I have made. But is it too late? I thought I’d ask you, I doubt you’ll have time to answer this message.

Thanks,
PATHETIC-IN-WASHINGTON D.C.

DEAR PATHETIC:

My mother used to say: “Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it.” And I cannot tell you how many times this phrase has gotten me through hard times.

Just knowing that tomorrow is blemish free, like clean notebook paper, makes me feel better. And believe me, sometimes I need to feel better about myself because…

I’m a human being.

That’s right. Like you, I’m a biological creature programmed to be self-preserving and self-centered at all costs. Many forget this little tidbit about ourselves. Take me, I often forget how human I am. My wife, however, is always eager to remind me. Although sometimes she’s too eager.

The thing is, some people imagine that our species is more than merely mortal. Some actually think we are enlightened, advanced, or insightful creatures. But the truth is—and I don’t mean to be crude here—we are biped mammals who go potty.

Since the Stone Age our species has been hardwired to think only about Number One. And so far, that’s what mankind has done.

Go thumb through a social studies textbook. Throughout recorded history the most aggressive and destructive civilizations weren’t societies comprised of turtles. The truly brutal cultures have always been people. What swell guys our caveman ancestors were, impaling each other with sharp sticks so they could own more real estate.

I realize this is a dim view of humanity. Of course not all mankind is this bad. Admittedly, there have been exceptional humans: Mother Teresa, Saint Francis, Helen Keller, Richard Petty, etc. But to view our species as anything other than flawed self-seeking creatures is, well… A mistake.

Give yourself a break.

Compared to other species we are as saintly as a bunch of sweathogs. Actually many humans are not nearly as devoted as hogs.

Take, for instance, Prudence, a Welsh hog in Carthamenshire, Wales. A few years ago, Prudence saved her owner from accidental death when her owner sank into a muddy bog and nearly drowned. Prudence pulled the woman out.

“Without Pru,” says Prudence’s owner, “I wouldn’t have been able to get out of the mire.” And the woman would have died.

And do you want to know how pathetically human I am? After reading this touching story about Prudence’s heroism, guess what I was thinking? I was trying to figure out how to use this story in a paragraph and insert a wisecrack about bacon. I should be ashamed.

See what I mean about us pitiful humans? We’re a mess, but we don’t see it. When will we finally wake up and smell the bacon?

Oh, sure, we tell ourselves we have giant brains, opposable thumbs, and superior health insurance coverage. We call ourselves the dominant species, and this makes us feel proud. But put us next to a Labrador and we appear about as loyal as a sea sponge.

Which is an insult to sea sponges. Some colonies of sponges have been alive for 2,300 years, filtering out harmful impurities and bacteria from their marine environments. Meanwhile, what have we humans contributed to our environment? The Kardashians.

I share all this with you because I want you to know you’re not alone in your humanhood.

I am like your son. I was abandoned by my father, too. I grew up feeling the same way your son probably feels. I’ve been where your son is. I’ve experienced similar emotions. Which is why I believe I can tell you something with near certainty. Your kid still loves you.

Don’t misunderstand me, this doesn’t mean your son will open his arms to you. He might not. But even if your son seems to hate you; even if he THINKS he hates you; deep down he doesn’t.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that your son’s love is like a pool of crude oil, buried deep beneath a surface of granite, just waiting to gush forth.

Sadly, I don’t know how to drill past that tough exterior slab. Only you and your son can discover this. But I can absolutely tell you how to find love during the meantime. You can start by forgiving yourself.

If you ask me, sir, you are not required to hate yourself for your wrongdoings. Neither should you hold yourself prisoner. Are you mistake free? No. You are a member of mankind, there are 7.674 billion of us out here just like you. You are not making this world a better place by beating yourself up. You deserve love as much as anyone on this planet.

Also, if you don’t mind me saying so, I love you, for trying to make things right with your child. And most importantly, because you’re human.

So I realize this column is filled with some stupid anecdotes. You were probably expecting something better written, but I’ve never claimed to be a sharp guy. I’m certain I have misspoken here, and I may have said things that are totally incorrect. All I can say is: oh, well.

Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it.

21 comments

  1. Tammy S. - February 13, 2021 8:11 am

    Great advice to this Dad, Sean!! Sometimes the hardest one to forgive is ourselves. But how can we begin to carry out the greatest commandment of God if we choose not to forgive ourselves. To love, we forgive, even ourselves, just as God has loved and forgiven us. And I hope this son finds it in his heart to forgive his Dad. How beautiful would this be!

    Reply
  2. Leigh Amiot - February 13, 2021 9:59 am

    Wow. “Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it.” This column was filled to the brim with mercy, and as Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.” I pray mercy and forgiveness permeates the meeting of this father and son and reconciliation can begin. Holding back love is one of the more painful things we do to ourselves as humans. And you’re right, dogs, as a whole, don’t do that! (I have a scar on my face as an exception to that rule.) Your humor is never missing in serious moments—Richard Petty made the lineup with Mother Teresa, Saint Francis, and Helen Keller. One more thing on love, a precious pastor friend once said to me that love turned inward leads to depression, love is meant to be turned outward onto others—like Jesus did. Sean, you’re always turning love outward and it’s so refreshing and inspiring to read, you have such a heart for others.

    Reply
  3. Pat - February 13, 2021 12:16 pm

    Sean – This was wonderfully written and a beautiful gift you’ve given. You have a loving heart and an exceptional talent. Thank you for sharing it so graciously and generously with the rest of the world.

    Reply
  4. Kate - February 13, 2021 12:51 pm

    Leigh, I totally missed the Mercy part, so thank you for that insight. I loved the humor along with the seriousness of the issue. When I read the part abut Jamie being eager to remind Sean of his humanness, maybe a little too eager my husband burst out laughing, as well as at the Richard Petty part because he is a NASCAR fan. Sean is so correct, we so beat ourselves up over our mistakes, because unfortunately most of us are not wise when we are young, and when we are older we realize how much harm we have done. Forgiveness and Mercy are so necessary, especially for us to give to ourselves, but maybe we can all start doing that for us and for others.

    Reply
  5. MR - February 13, 2021 1:16 pm

    If more parents and children would reconcile in this world, what a better place it would be! But it takes love and mercy … with a little humor to lighten things up.

    I did try to look up Prudence, the Welsh hog to see if it was true, but couldn’t find anything about it.

    Reply
  6. Leigh Amiot - February 13, 2021 1:35 pm

    Kate, thank you for your kind comment. I know Sean’s regular readers are rooting for the son to show mercy to his father, yet Sean was so realistic in how things might unfold. The comments following this blog are almost always from a loving, grateful perspective, definitely a reflection on Sean’s work, and decidedly different from many social media platforms. You are spot on, too, in echoing how important it is to forgive ourselves. And yeah, as a wife, I winced a little figuring I better check myself on pointing out my husband’s humanness. 😂

    Reply
  7. Jo Ann - February 13, 2021 1:35 pm

    “Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it” I liked that, thanks to your mom. I had to write it down. Hope your day goes well, Sean, as well as the dad meeting his son.

    Reply
  8. Cyn - February 13, 2021 1:41 pm

    Sean, you are dead on with your comments on this one. Should this individual’s son be hostile and mad, it is because deep inside he misses the love of a father. The fact that the son has even agreed to meet with his father tells us much. I know that in time they will be able to work this out. My reason for believing this is first we can tell that the son needs and wants the love of his father. The second reason is the father obviously loves his son even though way back 30 years ago the father left. We don’t know the reasons and we don’t need to know the reasons.

    Reply
  9. Allison Gilmore - February 13, 2021 2:03 pm

    No one but Sean could take a question as serious as this one and make his point so well by comparing us to sweathogs “…Compared to other species we are as saintly as a bunch of sweathogs…” and offering some simple hopeful wisdom from his sweet mama, “…Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it…” Sean somehow manages to give profoundly wise advice with such gentle words and funny comments that sprinkle in some smiles and laughs.

    Reply
  10. nebraskannie - February 13, 2021 2:30 pm

    I was purposefully abandoned by my children who believed lies. I will always love them, but I’m like your mom. If they showed up at my door today, I’d say, let’s look forward, not back. We can’t change the past, only the future. “Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it.” You mother was very wise.

    Reply
    • Dean - February 13, 2021 10:53 pm

      So sorry. My grandson got upset with his Mom and even though he only lives 10 miles from us we have never got to see the 2 youngest of his children.
      Breaks my heart but I would open my door to him in a heart beat. 🙏🙏🙏 your children come around

      Reply
  11. Phil (Brown Marlin) - February 13, 2021 2:40 pm

    Sean, you would make a great minister of the gospel. What am I saying? You already are one because you bring it every day. Preach on, Brutha!!

    Reply
  12. Liz Watkins - February 13, 2021 3:17 pm

    Tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it!
    How profound!
    Prayers for the Father and son to reconcile!
    Our Heavenly Father reconciles with us Humans everyday!
    My Mercy and love prevail🙏🏻❤️❤️🙏🏻
    Sean you’re such a bright part of my morning❤️

    Reply
  13. Bob Brenner - February 13, 2021 5:11 pm

    Richard Petty? I met him one time when my sons class went to Level Cross, NC to the Petty Enterprises shop. His grandson was in his class and we were invited for a tour. He is truly a good man who took the time to make the day for some young boys. Funny as I remember there were a lot of dads there that day. Kids will be kids. Thanks for the sweet memories and I’m looking forward to tomorrow, a brand new day! I’ll pray dor rhe father and son and their reconciliation.

    Reply
  14. johnallenberry - February 13, 2021 5:16 pm

    I think I know the bacon joke you’re looking for: A man is driving through the country and passing a field, he sees a three-legged hog rooting around. This fascinates the man, so when he gets to the driveway next to the field, curiosity gets the better of him and he turns up the road to the farmhouse where the farmer is standing in the front yard.

    The man hops out of his car, introduces himself and says, “The reason I stopped, I wanted to ask you about this three-legged hog I saw out in the pasture.”

    “Oh, him, well, let me tell you, that is one special hog. Once the house caught on fire, and we were all sleeping and didn’t notice. Well, that hog busted in the front door and woke us up! Saved all our lives!

    Another time, a coyote had junior cornered and would’ve made short work of him, when out of nowhere that hog came barreling in, knocked the coyote on its side, and chased it off the property.

    A month after that, little Susie fell in the pond, and was drowning. That hog jumped in and pulled her out!”

    “That’s AMAZING!” said the man. “But why does the hog only have one leg?”

    The farmer said: “Aw, you don’t eat a hog like that all at once!”

    ‘ppreciate you, brother.

    PhDude

    Reply
  15. Deborah L Blount - February 13, 2021 5:37 pm

    Without reaching out to others you could never know if reconciliation is even possible. Open the door. If no one walks through, leave the door open for the future. That’s what a labrador retriever would do.

    Reply
  16. Linda Moon - February 13, 2021 6:59 pm

    Your mother is a very wise woman. Her “saying” is new to me, and I’m sure I’ll be mindful of it. An unwise man often tried to give me hardwired advice, but this human (me) didn’t go along with it. A wise woman in my family often says “oh well” when LIFE messes up. Latin was one of my favorite subjects in school, and you, Sean Dietrich, are one of my favorite Homo Sapiens. Before commenting here, I wrote this first on clean notebook paper, and now I feel better after reading, thinking, and writing about all us humans!

    Reply
  17. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - February 13, 2021 7:20 pm

    Yes! It is. And thanks for pointing that out. I’m sure 99.9% of us need to hear it.
    Often.
    And a whole bunch of us love you too.
    Happy Valentine’s to you & J. & the pups.

    Reply
  18. Susan - February 13, 2021 11:24 pm

    Sean and Pathetic-In-Washington, DC,
    You have know idea how many lives you have just changed from this letter and response.

    Reply
  19. Dawnie B - February 14, 2021 6:21 am

    Sean, you are right about forgiving yourself first. It is one of the hardest things to do, unless you own up to your mistake and ask sincerely for forgiveness. Talking it out, if necessary, will relieve all that pent up anxiety. You will wonder why you waited so long to do it!

    Reply
  20. Julie - February 14, 2021 1:41 pm

    How refreshing and encouraging to know that “tomorrow is a day with no mistakes in it.” Sean, that is one very wise Mother you have! I’m sure the love and pride you feel for one another is mutual❣️

    Reply

Leave a Comment