Thursday, December 22, 2011

Looking Forward: Confessions of a Proud Father

CityWatch, Dec 23, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 102

RETHINKING LA … AND LIFE - Three weeks ago, my wife Enci and I welcomed our newborn son, Sydney Istv├ín Box, into the world.

I’ve been led to believe that the miracle of birth is actually a common occurrence but from where I stood, it was a brilliant once-in-a-lifetime experience that rocked my world.

Sydney arrived a wee bit early, we were expecting him on the 8th, but as it turns out, no amount of planning could have prepared us for our firstborn child.
We were expecting to make some adjustments to our schedule, our priorities, our routine, and our activities but I was in no way prepared for the changes that took place within me.

I was standing in City Hall shortly after Sydney’s arrival, poised to pick off slow passersby and subject them to a few photos of my little miracle when a Councilman stopped to congratulate me, offering his insight into the journey of a first-time father.

“It doesn’t change who you are, it doesn’t change your philosophies or your beliefs, you’re still you. But ... it certainly changes your perspective and you’ll be a better man for it.”

As I look back over the past year, I realize that it’s true, Sydney has changed my perspective and I now see things just a little differently.

My campaign for a City Council seat was an exhausting experience with an outcome that left me depressed and disillusioned, but now as I look back I see a journey that was rich in new friendships, partnerships, and lessons learned that I can’t wait to share with Sydney.

Disputes between neighbors resulted in struggles with city departments over enforcement priorities and led to a campaign within City Hall for relief. While the fight is far from over, I now look back and realize that the journey to a solution resulted in new friendships, neighborhood alliances, and battle scars that all tell a story I can’t wait to share with Sydney.

Neighborhood Councils from around the city came together to work on issues, filling City Hall with the clamor of neighborhood, regional, and citywide initiatives to improve the quality of life in LA. At the time, I was overwhelmed with motions and votes but in looking back, I realize that the real action was the forging of relationships, that LA is really just another small town full of our friends and I can’t wait for Sydney to meet them all.

I recently attended three City Hall meetings in one week, just to advance a simple and long overdue Single Use Bag Ban into LA’s municipal code, a frustrating experience that is far too common but an essential part of the process. During the journey, I was inundated with advice and counsel from friends and strangers, all of it related to Sydney and my new role as his father.

It reminded me that the people of LA are much bigger than the motion on the agenda that often divides us, that we have much more in common than the debate on the floor indicates, that we collectively have enough wisdom to guide even me, the clumsy new father, as I set off on this new journey.

From the woman who whispered in my ear “Your job is to stand by your wife and encourage her. I mean it!” to the tired man with a toddler who urged me to “Nap when you can!” I have been blessed with support and insight and guidance from all quarters and my perspective has changed.

I look back over the past year and I see new relationships that came out of conflict, I see wisdom and insight that resulted from the obstacles that we encountered, I see my community expanding with new friends and allies who have clearly communicated that I can count on them.

The past three weeks have been intense, not just because Sydney joined us, but also because we have been overwhelmed with good wishes and encouragement from far and wide.

Thanks to Sydney, I’m filled with optimism and can’t wait to share my world with him. Thanks to you, I’m filled with confidence that it’s a world worth sharing and I can’t wait for you to meet him.

Merry Christmas from the Boxes!

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net.)

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