Thursday, July 23, 2015

On Adulthood

An excerpt from Toni Morrison's commencement speech at Wellesley.
I've written before about my feelings on nostalgia.  I think it's human nature to remember the past as being better than it was.  I remember vividly chatting late at night with high school friends about what our lives would eventually be like.  And here I am.  I like to think that I have consciously lived into that dream.  I try to pause when I catch a moment of my beautiful son.  When my husband makes me laugh.  When I pull up to the house that we so proudly purchased.  These were all dreams of that teenager.  I can say that I reject the notion that the best days have gone...   Adulthood is a lot of work. When compared to the work of childhood: crawling -> walking -> running; speaking -> making friends ->forming relationships - maybe it's less daunting but unlike childhood the work of adulthood is really a very personal journey.  There is no formula to follow.  But a commitment to the work of your own pursuit of a life you dream of, yields a really rewarding gift.

"I’m sure you have been told that this is the best time of your life. It may be. But if it’s true that this is the best time of your life, if you have already lived or are now living at this age the best years, or if the next few turn out to be the best, then you have my condolences. Because you’ll want to remain here, stuck in these so-called best years, never maturing, wanting only to look, to feel and be the adolescent that whole industries are devoted to forcing you to remain.
One more flawless article of clothing, one more elaborate toy, the truly perfect diet, the harmless but necessary drug, the almost final elective surgery, the ultimate cosmetic-all designed to maintain hunger for stasis. While children are being eroticized into adults, adults are being exoticized into eternal juvenilia. I know that happiness has been the real, if covert, target of your labors here, your choices of companions, of the profession that you will enter. You deserve it and I want you to gain it, everybody should. But if that’s all you have on your mind, then you do have my sympathy, and if these are indeed the best years of your life, you do have my condolences because there is nothing, believe me, more satisfying, more gratifying than true adulthood. The adulthood that is the span of life before you. The process of becoming one is not inevitable. Its achievement is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard won glory, which commercial forces and cultural vapidity should not be permitted to deprive you of."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer days

Now you talk in sentences!  You say "mama, can you get my milk.  I stay here cuddling with daddy" - no joke, those words were spoken this morning.  Your cars and trucks are still the highlight of your day and you usually start and end the day talking about them - "did you see the steam roller." "we saw TWO mailtrucks" "yellow tractor goes fast!!"    You zip cars and trucks around the house, the yard and every ride we take is an adventure since we never know what we'll see!  White van! Minibus! Bulldozer! 

You want to do more things on your own.  You like to tell me "no. Jojo help you mama."  You like to pick out your clothes, your shoes, buckle your seatbelt by yourself and always, always, hold your own ice cream cone.  "jojo hold it!!!"  

We've been having a great summer. You swim and play and explore.  The world is yours, my boy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What I'm Reading: Being Mortal

I recently finished Atul Gawande's Being Mortal.  There are some fantastic snipits and insights, but in general I found the book to be more of a study on elder-care than I really anticipated.   It struck me as a book backed by an interesting thesis but trying to fill pages.

That said, I wouldn't classify it as time wasted and here are some thoughts to ponder:

“In fact, he argued, human beings need loyalty. It does not necessarily produce happiness, and can even be painful, but we all require devotion to something more than ourselves for our lives to be endurable. Without it, we have only our desires to guide us, and they are fleeting, capricious, and insatiable. They provide, ultimately, only torment.” 

“In the end, people don't view their life as merely the average of all its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people's minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life maybe empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves.” 

“Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don’t want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knows how to fight for territory that can be won and how to surrender it when it can’t, someone who understands that the damage is greatest if all you do is battle to the bitter end.”