The End of Innocence
"Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself and you shall have the suffrage of the world."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
In a recent conversation with my father, as we traveled through the topics we hold dear, we stumbled upon, the ever volatile, politics. Upon reaching this relatively familiar territory, I asked him how he felt about the current political climate, more specifically what he thought about his parties latest campaign for candidacy. He calmly replied, "I don't care."
Without going into a terribly massive amount of detail, "I don't care," simply isn't something that is commonly thought by either of my creators, especially out loud, to their offspring! Deeply spiritual and patriotic, my parents attempted to instill in me a sense of responsibility and respect for my nation, my planet, and my fellow human beings (as to whether or not they succeeded is an entirely different matter). So, to hear my father, my mentor, my best friend, speak with such disdain about one of the most fundamental rights he has as an American citizen, was both sad and, quite frankly, exhilarating.
The fact that my father had lost the desire to pay attention to the chaotic world around him haunted me for the next few days. I battled with the thought that maybe, the idea of his fast-approaching retirement had finally begun to change his perspective on life. Perhaps the freedom that looms just ahead of him had begun to cause his focus to shift inward, to my mother, to his life after teaching, to what retirement would mean for him.
I saw my father sitting on an adirondack chair, holding my mother, staring out across the river, his mind devoid of worry or ambition, purely at peace with where his life had led him. I envied the peace that only age can bring, the feeling of completion, of accomplishment, of content. I envied the man at rest.
But, in this calm, I heard a quiet desperation, a voice that screamed, "I AM NOT READY YET!" I remember that passion emanating from my father like heat from the sun. He found triumph and defeat with this passion. He found despair and joy.
It is a truly humbling thought, when you realize that your parents really didn't have all the answers, that they didn't know what was best for you, that they were banking on the same level of experience you currently are, that they struggled just to keep you alive, all while sacrificing passion driven hopes and dreams.
That being said, the realization that the omnipotent giants of your childhood are mere flesh, blood, and grey matter, leaves you with a question: Am I content with my life following the same path as my creators?
As I slowly creep towards middle age, my answer remains a resolute no. I spent countless hours attempting to please my creators, only to realize that path would lead me to the same conclusion that they will enjoy. I see now that isn't what they wanted. I see now how easy it is to fall prey to the American Dream, the daily grind, and the path of least resistance.
I see now why they let me fail.
Thanks Mom and Dad.