Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Best Laid Plans . . .

Well, my original plan was to post every day - both my sons have blogs and post fairly regularly. Unfortunately, I can't always agree with what they post, but at least they're out there articulating and thinking.

Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon (I hope this isn't copyright infringement). I've been both sick and real busy lately, so that's my excuse for not posting before now.

I'm in graduate school right now . . . OK, I'm almost always in graduate school. Some of us are just perennial students and I'm a big one. I love everything about being in college except the work. My mind works better when I'm in a classroom situation. Very interesting when you're usually the oldest one in the room (oftentimes including the teacher). I find that, in some ways, I am deferred to more by the other students simply because I am older. However, sometimes I find my more long-term and tolerant views are greeted with an almost tangible snort of derision . . . young people are so willing to think that things are either black or white too often. They don't understand or tolerate shades of gray.

I remember having tremendous arguments with my Veteran Generation father about things political and cultural. He was a farmer, a simple man who fought for his country when it was the right thing to do and who worked very hard his entire life and got very little in return for all that work. Then comes me, with my crystallized view of everything based on having read a few books and had a few conversations. How he tolerated me is beyond my comprehension - I don't have his patience. Now I see things a little more like he did. I've been alive long enough to realize that a lot of things that happen are just outside my environment and really don't affect my personal life, that bad stuff and good stuff happens to every generation and that we all sharesome common human experiences, but these commonalities have little to do with those things we seem to spend so much time arguing about.

Here's an interesting exercise. Select a time when you have a particularly vivid memory of your parent (either sex will do). Then identify a major generational event for that parent (for example, WWII for my Dad). Now figure how many years there are between that generational event and your memory. My time was when I was about six years old (1954)and I was playing soldier in the frontyard. I noticed my Dad watching me with the most curious look on his face . . . looking back, I'd describe it as compassion combined with revulsion and a dash of wistfulness. In 1954, World War II had been over less than 10 years and the Korean War was still hot. His little boy playing soldier had a whole different meaning for him and I only became more sensitive to this when I had children.

I had a similar experience once in about 1985 when I realized that the Vietnam War was about 10 years in the past, the same chronological distance as that faraway day when I caught my Dad looking at me with that unforgettable look.

TIme is an interesting phenomena. Speaking of time . . . Enough . . . it's late and tomorrow is coming like a freight train.