There’s No Such Thing As Nothing, Especially on Father’s Day

My father, Harry Arenson, loved to photograph flowers. Among his favorites, were roses and Sweet Williams ( of the Dianthus family)

My father, Harry Arenson, loved to photograph flowers. Among his favorites, were roses and Sweet Williams ( of the Dianthus family)

redSweet William (1)

I have heard it all from people over the years.

“Everyone I care about is gone. There is nothing left for me.”

“I have nothing.  He or she has it all.”

“There’s nothing I can do about it.”

“”Nothing is going to change for me. ”

“Nothing I do works when it comes to losing weight.”

“I have tried finding a job, but there’s nothing out there.”

“My co-workers are pig-headed and won’t listen. Nothing will change them.”

“We’ve tried marriage counseling. Nothing works”

My guess is that you’ve heard all of these things, and maybe many more. These could even be things you have said to people, or you’re thought of them without saying them aloud.

I don’t invalidate the feelings behind such thoughts. When people think or express such things, they usually believe they are true. They feel sad, hopeless, stuck and even angry. They feel SOMETHING, though, and not just nothing.  Nothing and nothing adds up to a big fat zero, as you know. Something leads somewhere.

Today is the day I want you to think of something, instead of nothing. Today is Father’s Day here in the U.S, and that seems like a fitting time for this challenge.  I want you to remember  who and what you have, and have had, rather than who or what you don’t have.  I challenge you to remember happy things, even if you are missing somebody today on Father’s Day.   I challenge you to take just one step, to commit to just one action that has a positive and lasting meaning,  and that provides hope for yourself and/or for someone else.

Your life matters.  You received it as a gift.  You are not a collection of nothings that add up to nothing, You are somebody important to at least one other person and most likely, to many  more than you know. “Nothing” and “Nobody” are concepts your own imagination has conjured up and built on over time. They hold you prisoner.   It is usually the truth that nothing works and that everything stays the same when you convince yourself of this.

If you try, you can find an important something in every bad situation that has ever happened to you. You can find something pleasant and even inspiring to remember, even on days that have built-in sadness for you.

This morning someone told me that she has “nothing” to celebrate on Father’s Day. Her husband is gone, her father is gone.  I miss my father today too, and really, I miss things about him every day.  You can’t miss what you never had, though. Therefore, I have to remember how fortunate I was to have known him and to be able to carry on the ways in which he influenced me.   I focus not on having “nothing to celebrate” but on all of the important “somethings” my father gave to me over his lifetime.  There is nothing physical of him left on earth now. There is only a gravestone that says, “His love and beauty are eternal”. I have with me, though, the amazing (and often non-stop) humor that he brought into every day, sometimes making us laugh when there was little to laugh about.  I have his ability to occasionally be outrageously silly and to remember what childhood is all about, even as an adult.  I have his great loyalty to family and friends, tested many times, but always undying. I have his deep respect for learning and his love of music and literature, and especially poetry. I have a vivid picture today, of his face. I have the image of his blue, blue eyes sparkling with pride when I read him something I wrote. True, he was vain sometimes, and proud that his face remained without wrinkles for the most part.  I guess I have a bit of that vanity too, and I think I am glad. While too much vanity is not a good thing, just enough keeps us caring about ourselves and taking care of ourselves.  So, there is “nothing” about my father, Harry, that is really gone There is some essence of him that is still here with me, always.

Today is your chance to begin to abolish the idea of “nothing” from your vocabulary.

9 thoughts on “There’s No Such Thing As Nothing, Especially on Father’s Day

  1. Iris, I didn’t put this in my post, but I really shed some cleansing tears while reading your column. I also forwarded it to a longtime friend who is depressed and angry but doesn’t know it. I talk with her often. She’s a cancer survivor and the disease really affected her, of course. Her name is Michele Rose and I hope she subscribes.

    Sent from my iPhone.


    • I am so glad this post meant something to you. In spite of most of our lives not being perfect, there are always some good memories. I am sure your father influenced you in many ways and some perhaps, that you hadn’t thought about too much in the past. Thanks, too, for sending this on to your friend. I wish her the very best.


  2. Iris,

    You have touched upon so many important topics here, but most of all touched me. The tears almost came and today I am going to concentrate on my father, what he imparted to me. As you know, my mother was a great influence and often overshadowed my father, who was somewhat distant and didn’t show emotion, which doesn’t mean he had none. And now I look at Theo and remember my father’s love of dogs. Thank you for bringing him back to me.


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