I'm a big fan of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown. I've been a big fan of the show since it first aired in 2013. One of the last memories I remember having with my father before passed away was watching the first few episodes when my parents came to visit me in the Spring of 2013.
Yesterday, I was watching Episode 1 Season 11, which aired in 2018, and was about West Virginia. I had watched it before, but it was one of my favorites. I wasn't paying attention 100% because I have seen it before.
When the episode was about to end, the background music was a song titled "Keep Your Nose on the Grindstone" by Tyler Childers.
The two verse that caught my ear first was that of the chorus:
Well daddy I've been tryin', I just can't catch a break
There's too much in this world I can't seem to shake
But I remember your words, Lord, they bring me the chills
"Keep your nose on the grindstone and out of the pills"
"Keep your nose on the grindstone"
I had to look it up and listen to it and read its lyrics.
It was almost as if Childers had mostly translated a conversation I was having with my own father that year. I don't even have to recall what we said to each other. I can simply just point you to the song. I'm not the only one to have such a conversation with a parent, but many are not fortunate enough to have a similar conversation with a father or father-figure.
This is an excellent song for so many reasons.
The pitch in his voice goes up in the chorus, and to me it conveys pain. I truly understand that pain in his voice.
You see, back in 2013, I was in dental school and terribly struggling. I was getting kicked out because I was falling back academically. I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to the department of education, and unless I graduate, I don't know how to pay off that massive debt (almost $500,000). My dad's advice was to work hard no matter what happens, and never, ever cheat, or trick anyone even if it means trying to avoid getting kicked out of school. His advice was, that even if I got kicked out, I shouldn't resort to taking drugs or alcohol. His advice was, "No matter what happens, it's God's will. Just have faith, and never give up."
Later in 2013, my dad and uncle passed away, and soon after I was later diagnosed with persistent adult-onset asthma. I was constantly sick, and no matter what I did, I would cough and wheeze all day, and all night. To make matters worse, my girlfriend broke up with me because when I'm not staying in sick, I'm at school working hard and just trying to stay afloat.
During that time, I would go to the park every Saturday morning, and take a long hike over 6 - 8 hours; during which I felt healthy; away from the pollution and noise of the city. However, I always stopped at this one bench near the lake, where I often hung out with my dad so many years before. It was a time I used for general contemplation, during which I often remembered what he had said to me among other things so many years ago, "Just have faith, and never give up.".
One thing that got me through all of this, is remembering that advice, and pushing through the pain, and the frustrations of life. I don't always do the right thing, but I try very hard, and do the best that I can. This advice has taken me a long, long way. I am now a dentist, and while I am not wealthy, and my income is slightly lower than the average among my peers regardless of job and profession, I now have a good, stable life, working hard everyday for over 12 hours daily, in a job that I absolutely love; so much so, that I look forward to waking up in the morning and going to work.
I thank God for my parents. They sacrificed a lot for me to be where I am today, and for that I will forever be grateful. Nevertheless, I still miss the wisdom that my dad and my uncle often shared. I've always felt closer to both of them than my own peers among my relatives and friends. I still often feel a deep sadness and loneliness since then, and every now and then. You can put a band-aid over a broken heart, but that doesn't really mean that you can ever unbreak it.
However, I often remind myself, "Just have faith, and never give up."