The Threshold of Goneness
During my adolescence, my “Little Voice” was constantly screaming at me in disapproval of my decision processes and behavior. It told me many times that if I had
just listened better, we would be routine guests on the TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and there would be a lot less groveling on my part to make up for poor choices. This day was no different.
The hunter in me was driving, so needless to say, it was pedal to metal. Three days later, upon my return, there were issues. Things had changed drastically.
We began with a “Level III” lecture. These are massive, painful events lasting three days. They begin with 24 hours of the silent treatment. Then there are 24 hours of stern, serious expressions of discontent, copious tears, ample references to unrelated past events (to document a pattern of unacceptable behavior), quotes of support and warning from her mother, and shameless, serious groveling on my part. Then there are an additional 24 hours of silent treatment.
During this most recent unpleasant three-day event, the “Threshold of Goneness” was thoroughly defined and articulated. My absences for hunting and fishing trips would have an upper limit. I argued long and hard that trips associated for official work duties should not be included in the Threshold. But Jen explained that gone was gone, the reason was unimportant.
We also came up with the “Point System,” basically an earn-a-trip concept. This usually involved me slaving feverishly on home improvement and horse facility projects to earn away-time for hunting and fishing. The first full year of the Point System resulted in our house being featured in a national magazine specializing in old home restorations. Jen was thrilled, but the preparations almost killed me.
As you can imagine, I was generally dissatisfied with the Point System. Points were hard to accumulate and peeled off way too easily. A late rules change resulted in behavioral transgressions on my part being assessed against the point total, much to the delight of my “Little Voice.” To make matters worse, bad behavior by my sons was also deducted from my goneness points, since Jen claimed that my sons’ behavior was influenced by, and related to, my own.
But eventually I learned to manage the Threshold carefully. I taught my sons basic home improvement skills like sanding drywall so they could make their own contribution to the point total. They were instructed