...I wanted to chime in on the "What's the best advice your father ever gave you?" meme; I was away from the Internet all day Sunday, and so I'm just seeing other folks' responses now.
My answer to this question's an easy one: In November or December 2004, I'd been living in Japan only a month or two, and although I'd just signed a lease on my own apartment, my future was about as up-in-the-air as it could possibly be. I'd gone overseas in large part to seek clarity on a relationship that, increasingly, I suspected didn't have a future -- but I didn't know what my future would hold once I cut loose that anchor (which, like many anchors, was sinking me as much as or more than it was stabilizing me).
I think I had just vocalized exactly that sort of doubt about the months and years ahead on the phone to my dad when he gave me the good advice in question. I distinctly remember that I was walking down the narrow, twisty little street between the neighborhood rice paddy and my new home when he said, "Very soon you're going to reach a point in your life where you know exactly what you need to do. When that happens, you won't be in doubt any more, and the only correct course will become clear as day." At the time he said those words, they struck me as a well-meaning but ultimately useless bromide, the kind fathers are always offering to their kids in lieu of something actually helpful.
Two or three months later, I was walking down the exact same crooked little lane, cramped houses to either side, persimmon trees and bonsai greener than ever against the white winter sky. I'd ended the relationship that had vexed me for so long, and to my great surprise, I'd fallen in love with a coworker. It could have been a rebound, wishful thinking, but everything in my gut told me it wasn't. Every ounce of certainty I had in me -- not just my desire for things to be other than they really were, a more familiar feeling -- told me she was the one, and that if I knew what was good for me, I'd hold on tight. Like Janet-of-Carterhaugh tight. I flashed back to Dad's advice, and realized that he'd been absolutely right. I knew, and I knew what to do: pursue the woman I'd fallen in love with with all my patience, faith, and ardor.
I did, and in less than two years that coworker was my wife. And I cannot overestimate the extent to which going after Kat, back in early 2005, was literally the best decision I've ever made. She's made my life richer, fuller, and happier than anyone or anything I've ever known. I don't post much to LiveJournal any more, and I don't crow much about my marriage, even though I could, but this morning I wanted to.
Thanks, Dad. You couldn't have been more right.