Archive for August, 2014

School day

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

It’s his first day of high school so I drove Evan, for the first time, up to the campus. He was grumpily uninterested in me, but he’s been polite these days. I let him run pretty free this summer. Run he did. And we reined him back to find him more comfortable with himself; less angry. He’s learned something. He’s accommodating us, now.

These pages (you may have noticed this) are ‘saying this about me.’ I feel (I really feel) like a tremendously creative, vital, overwhelmingly attractive presence in the world – yet I am only a mediocre, middle-class man barely glib enough to bumble through a business meeting. I sit behind my ‘raw, subjective experience,’ and I want somehow to be first and best at displaying what I perceive – to a large and adoring crowd. But I can do only this. I cannot show you any of the real stuff.

At Evan’s birth our midwife talked a bit about raising children, sharing her thoughts our parenting difficulties often coincide with those ages our kids reach when we, ourselves, got troubled or broke down. For me, of course, that was most of all of it, but middle-school was rough and it was hard on Evan, too. Hard on me. I’m a clueless parent. I had no instruction.

The other day, I read a high-brow academic’s claim that – aside from genetics – parents, in the end, have no effect on the adults their children turn out to be. This led to a wonderful moment in which I realized I’m not raising an empty mind to become what I intend – I’m helping myself to become what is possible. I know something about doing that.

I want so much to be seen (I will travel far, indeed, looking for people who might recognize me). But I don’t know how to show myself. Evan is a musical performer, and a remarkable one. He’s one of those astonishing kids I thought we only read about, aware of his purpose and practicing it, hours and hours each day; living to get up on the stage. And he gets up on the stage. It’s like watching a soul split open. It is, literally, listening to a man simply be. Loudly. In public. And he gets to do it.

So here’s that profoundly parental sensation: Evan hops down from the truck in front of the high school. I say ‘I love you’ and he says ‘yeah.’ He heads off toward the complex and I see me walking away into life, but this time able to live it. I am so, so¬† pleased to let him go.

Bonds and war

Friday, August 8th, 2014

The world really is moved by money, just not by much. It’s hard to understand things when, in fact, we think largely the same way our closest circle of friends does. I grew up in painful and destructive financial circumstances, and the world looked cruel and unfair to me. Everybody around agreed. Now, I’m having trouble understanding the national chorus of complaint. My friends eat organic food and fly to Europe and the unemployment rate is falling – what’s the problem?

I’ve been criticized for spending too much time thinking about money. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you do, too. Indeed, all our best and brightest do. They play games with ‘financial products’ called stocks and bonds, according to rules they set themselves, with currency printed up by bankers they often sleep with. The world looks good to them indeed.

There’s a point where reality intrudes. I woke up this morning to find the US is dropping laser-guided bombs into Iraq, while Russia proceeds with genuine territorial ambitions in Ukraine. In the old days, war had a material effect on bankers, because occasionally armed men arrived and shot them. At such times, rather than frittering it away on their customary sex-and-travel pastimes, they would loan their money to powerful governments and beg for protection.

So today, despite overwhelming inflationary pressure and a host of game-board positives, folks are buying bonds again – as if war might still matter somehow.