Monthly Archives: July 2014

It’s in the perspective

During our recent pre-move purge, there were times that I experienced near euphoria when I unloaded a certain piece of furniture that had become somewhat of an albatross around the neck type situation – it was heavy and no charity wanted to take it away.  The elation I experienced when someone desired it for their use and was even willing to come and move it out of my house was at times over the top.  At times, I was so wrapped up in my own perspective that I was blindsided by the perspective of another.

One of our girls is emotionally astute and quite adept at both naming and expressing a full range of feelings.   She recently stopped me dead in my purge euphoria tracks.  There was this couch in our playroom.  It is a decent couch, but it had weathered years of kid and dog activity.  There were a few holes in it, poky wires sticking through the piping, and it was no longer a pleasant place for me to hang out.  When the couch rescuers were coming to pick it up, our sweet daughter became very agitated.  Once I clued in enough to realize that my good riddance couch feeling wasn’t shared, I slowed down to try and empathize with her position.

 

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“That is the couch where daddy and I used to play “get you” when I was little”.  “Sissy and I did lots of tricks on that couch”.  Ohhhh I thought, and then said.  We have a different point of view.

The couch still went out the door that day, and I was still happy about that.  But I needed to let another in my family express their very different feelings about this event.  Just giving her perspective voice and honor, along with allowing her to help load it into the truck of the very real people who were excited to take it home, helped us both through this situation.

Our family needs this often sentimental and emotionally attuned member.  On several occasions, she has coached me in expressing emotions in healthy ways; grieving and shedding tears over changes ahead and then figuring out healthy ways for us to transition to a new place.  We recently agreed together, after a crying session, to take pictures of each other in front of our home to take with us as we journey to our next.   And our new favorite song that we sometimes sing or recite after giving voice to our sadness is *”Home is wherever I’m with you”.

*Thank you Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros for this song and to my nephew Joe and his beautiful wife Katie who introduced me to this song as she walked down the aisle a few years ago. Have a listen.

 

Hipster lesson

Lately, I feel more and more out of touch. I realize that is what often happens as generations pass, but there are things I just don’t get. It may have always been like this for those living in the 2nd half of life, but sometimes it comforts me to blame the digital age for how lightning fast things change and for the myriad of choices in music, style, tv shows to watch etc. After all, as I grew up there were literally three network tv stations available to watch. Seemed like there was a lot less to keep up with.

 

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Recently I was on vacation with my family and was flattered by an invitation to go out with my two oldest sons. We were staying in a trendy San Francisco neighborhood with a night time destination deemed a “hipster hangout”. Here was my opportunity. I certainly am familiar with the word hipster, but as we walked through the streets I blurted out, “I just don’t get what hipster means.”

 

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So began my hipster education. Words like irony, skinny jeans, meta, beer and oversized glasses dropped into the conversation. Pretty soon I had a visual picture and realized I indeed knew a few people who at least dressed like a hipster. Beyond that, it still seemed a bit fuzzy to me. We sat in the loud and happening bar and talked about much more important things than the definition of hipster. I was 20-30 years older than everyone else in the bar and did get to see various renditions of the hipster look.

 

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A few days later, I returned to this hang out to record a few memories. As I snapped this picture, I caught this guy walking toward the bar and the recesses of my mind whispered “hipster”. He did actually take a right and enter.

 

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San Francisco was a hub for the hippie movement back during the days of my childhood. There was no Wikipedia or 24/7 information stream to help the older generation understand the definition of a hippie. I am sure there were many who asked, “what is a hippie?” or made sweeping generalizations about such people.

On our last night together, my oldest son said out loud a thought that had been forming in my heart and mind as I pondered the hipster question. He compared hippies and hipsters – there are some that enjoy certain music, some a style of dress, behavior or ideology, but there is no definition for either. They are people. These words clarified that I could stop trying to put hipsters in a box.

People are individuals expressing themselves in ways that sometimes overlap. Humans often like to be part of a group, a pack, a herd, but at the end of the day, each one is unique – hippies and hipsters included. Thank you to my two unique sons, with a few hipster characteristics, for showing me the way.

 

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What remains?

On the October 1991 day that we moved into our now home of almost 23 years, I snuck away from the moving day chaos and headed to a local lab.  Yes, the lab worker said, you are pregnant.  It was a joyful day on so many levels. Just last month, the third baby boy whose presence was made fully known on that long ago move-in day, began his own journey out of the only home he has known and into the grown up world.  This house is an important place in his 22 years of life.

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As I have prepared for our upcoming move, sorting through keepsakes and memorabilia with each of our three sons has been bittersweet.  What was of value at the end of high school or college sometimes shifts and changes after years and life lived.  It has been interesting and poignant to walk alongside and let go as they decide what they want to take beyond today and what can fall aside.  Their own memories and choices trump.  Only on rare and select occasion did I say, “I think you might want to have that one day down the road.”  Their choices don’t always align with mine and some of what they have chosen to carry forward did not include me in the memory.  They are three individual young men who have chosen their own paths.  That was the goal, yet the deep realization of this place in time can sometimes bring me to tears.

In 1991, 29 years old and expecting our third child, life seemed like it would go on for almost ever.  I, too, have shifted, grown and changed in so many ways during these 22 plus years.  Sometimes I feel very nostalgic and long for earlier days, yet at the same time I feel excited and hopeful about the possibilities of living life in a new space.  Realizing that I almost for sure have less days left to live than I have already lived helps bring focus to life.  Well beyond the material choices of what to take and what to leave behind are the bigger issues of how I want to live life – what do I take along from the past and what do I leave behind?  How will I spend my hours, days and years?  What remains?

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:13