Titles are supposed to be the hook to a column, book, or movie. Maybe if this were a Spielberg movie starring Hugh Jackman, “Epiphany” would be a great title. I chose this title simply because it is what jarringly happened to me this past weekend, as again I’m writing my column on an airplane.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday and I mention that solely to place the time. I am flying from New Orleans to Salt Lake City, where I will return to my second and ultimately only home, in Park City. I just attended the third Dad 2.0 Summit and the experience was quite startling.
This conference is a gathering of mostly Dad bloggers and advocates. I estimate that 80% of the attendees are dads. 18% are interested moms who enjoy and/or participate in the panels, workshops, and keynote addresses, while 2% are women attached to sponsors of the event who work their booths and exhibits.
The 2% who work for the sponsors apparently are all women between 20 and 26, who work in PR. Sort of like the Agent Smith in the movie Matrix. They all look the same, too. I don’t know how they find all these identical women, but each is charming, bright, and loves PR.
A sub-text of the Dad 2.0 Summit is Social Media and Technology. Since most of the attendees work in Social Media, this is an organic extension of the theme of the event. So, some workshops and talks are tech-centric while others are anecdotal and even may have political overtones.
I’ve been a part of this conference for all of its three-year existence because I’ve been a speaker or a media partner. I expected to feel quite at home, seeing old and new friends, and enjoying and learning from the many and varied panels and presentations. And, for the most part, that expectation was fulfilled.
What I didn’t expect was the aforementioned “epiphany” I experienced. I especially didn’t expect the power of it as it literally washed over me in a tsunami of emotions. Yeah, I’m a sort of emotional metro-male, minus any sense of fashion. It took me a while to sort out this burst of emotions since it usually only occurs during chick flicks.
I looked around the place and realized I was the oldest person in the room. Perhaps not literally, but most certainly I was not only one of the oldest attendees but I was old enough to be the biological father of the majority of them, including all of the 2%.
I have no problem with my age since I continue to enjoy just about every activity I’ve ever indulged and, in many cases, I enjoy and/or do them even better. I just have the different perspective of having lived during more decades than the number of fingers on one of my hands. My appreciation of life couldn’t be greater, given all my travel and the good fortune with which I’ve been blessed. So, getting older is a just part of the journey for me.
What hit me wasn’t specifically how old I was, but how what I’d been doing these past few years was less relevant to what I should be doing going forward. So many of these dads and so many of the speakers were embarking on the parenthood journey with young kids, and fresh eager eyes. On the other hand, I’m embarking on the empty nest with probably even greater excitement and eagerness.
The nail in the coffin was attending a private dinner in a private room in a gloriously wonderful New Orleans restaurant called Kingfish. It was a get together arranged by Collective Bias, a company with which I’m affiliated. The conversation naturally centered on things we had just heard and experienced, but it ended up getting more technical and specific on the minutiae of particular social media and technical tools many of us use.
Having just returned from an overseas trip, hearing odd languages wasn’t that unusual to me. But, at this gathering of native English speakers, I didn’t understand much of the excited and enthusiastic banter. I nodded and pretended to get it all, while usually being clueless or, worse, not even completely hearing what was said.
My epiphany is simply that I’ve been there and done it in the dad space, to use vernacular from the world of Social Media. Since my approach has always been that of a layman rather than an academic or so-called expert, and my approach has always included my personal experiences through my lens of irony, humor, and emotional context, I felt that writing about our kids growing up was best left to these dads at Kingfish.
Where do I go from here? Well, nothing has changed as far as how I view the world or live my life except my experiences and journey are changing. I want to write about that change as I get older, as my generation of Boomers looks to re-invent aging (or deny it completely) pretty much as its tried to re-invent everything else. My take is that the only good thing to come out of the sixties was some pretty good rock ‘n’ roll. So, I expect some funny and cynical views along this new turn in the road.
I am sure this change of direction will be full of great interest, stories, and tons of humor. I hope you’ll stay with me for this new route, bypass, detour or whatever directional word of choice you prefer. I welcome your thoughts and comments.
Note: It’s now several weeks later and my thinking has solidified. I will still write in the dad space but more sporadically. I’ve already cleared my new writing direction with my main newspaper and received enthusiastic support. Finally, I love #DadChat and will continue to nurture and grow our community. In other words, I will get the best of all worlds. Lucky me!