Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is One Parent Who's Not Feeling Funny

I like to try to be at least somewhat funny in my posts here, but these days, I just don't feel funny. It's hard to look around at the world today and maintain one's sense of humor. The headlines read more and more like end-of-the-world stuff--wars breaking out all over the Middle East, crazy natural disasters occurring with increased frequency, a state of persistent financial crises, the very public meltdown of Charlie Sheen--okay, so there are still some things to laugh about.

But my point is, here I am, watching this little toddler turning into a person, and I can't help but wonder what we've brought him into. It's hard to imagine what the world will be like when Max is my age. It's even harder to imagine things will turn out well. This was the theme of an ongoing discussion I had with a buddy during a two-day ski trip earlier this week. After listening to my gloomy predictions, he declared me the most pessimistic person he knows, but I beg to disagree. I'm not pessimistic, I'm realistic. I have plenty of reasons not to have faith that humankind can dig out from under the mess we've created.

While driving home from our trip, my friend said he believes that by the time Max is an old man, we'll have inhabited other solar systems. Naturally, I told him he was nuts, that we'll never come up with the money, and that it was more likely that some feudal, post-apocalyptic society awaits us. Then again, maybe I've just seen too many doomsday-themed movies.

But the real question is, does any of this even matter? Should I fret about what the world will be like in 80 years, or just accept the relentless march toward whatever awaits us, and hope that I can help Jackson and Max to be decent people who do what they can to help our species continue to evolve?

In our day-to-day lives, I try to keep myself focused on the immediate tasks before me--meeting deadlines to make ends meet, enjoying and investing in my relationship with Sarah, trying my best to love Jackson and Max as much as possible, enjoying the time I get to spend with family and close friends. I try not to dwell on the fact that I may one day be deemed professionally obsolete; that Sarah and I inevitably will have to say goodbye to each other; that huge parts of Jackson's and Max's lives will unfold after I'm gone; or that, if I'm lucky, I will one day watch helplessly as family members and friends meet their makers.

Likewise, in my role as a parent, I realize that I have no choice but to block out all of the menacing developments rising around us, and to focus on getting Jackson and Max through each day relatively unscathed. I have to accept that I have no control over whether one of the many enemies of the United States might blow up an airport or a bridge or a sports stadium. I can't prevent the huge earthquake that will inevitably rock the Bay Area and may or may not leave our neighborhood intact. And I certainly can't do anything to redistribute the disgusting amounts of wealth that our richest corporations are sitting on.

All I can control is my little family, and even on that small scale, my hold is tenuous. But I'm going to keep holding on for dear life, because nothing else is more important. I'm not about to let a little global chaos derail my efforts at successfully launching these two boys into adulthood--not to mention keeping Sarah, my partner in life, feeling safe and loved along the way. Here's hoping I get to finish the job.

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