Thursday, July 8, 2010

Greatest Treasure

My daughter's wedding celebration on the 4th of July in Las Vegas was an intense event that has engendered in me the entire spectrum of emotions, from satisfaction and contentment that she is happily married to a partner who will love and support her in her life, to sadness and disappointment that life is so hard and daunting for other young people I know and love. There is a part of me that longs to be able to fix the things that have gone wrong for these young people, and, of course, I can't, and I know it.

The juxtaposition of myriad happy moments with news of schism in the church, recurring illness of several beloved friends, and bad behavior by celebrities and government officials everywhere just makes for a confusing end to a celebratory week. I find myself taking things seriously again and choking on the bile that rises up from the unfairness of disease and poverty and the stupidity and perfidy of famous people with their privilege and position.

I am reminded once again to tend the little patch of garden I've been allotted in my part of the world, to pet my cat, smile at babies, drop some coins or folding cash into the cup, and say a prayer for those I encounter who look down in the dumps or in pain, whether physical or psychic. Those are the things that I can do, and that I should do. It sometimes seems like it would be easy to give up, to say, "Damn it, damn it, damn it," stamp my feet in frustration, and retire to a life of quietude and insulation in my room.

But that's not how most of us are made. We are made for each other and wither when we do not have the approbation of colleagues, friends and family to say, "Good job, well done, glad for the presence of you." We are made for each other and need the interference of others in our lives just as we need to engage, disrupt and poke around in the lives of others in order to feel alive, to feel the reflection of ourselves in and on others, and likewise to reflect others back to themselves for their wellbeing. Ubuntu: I am, because you are. Namaste: the divine in me greets the divine in you. Yin Yang: interconnected and interdependent - this is the way of the world. 

In an email conversation with a fellow parent, she mentioned her experience of going away to college, an expected event that involved getting on a plane and going off to the big city, prepared to be independent and to solve any problems that might arise on her own. I think that we have somehow messed up in the way that we have raised our kids with so much coddling and privilege. It feels like our children are experiencing independent adulthood at a slower pace, later age, than we did and than their much older siblings did. Part of it is that as older parents, we were able to provide a lot more support of all kinds, which we did willingly.

Raising kids is never easy, and you never get it quite right. You just do the best you can and hope for the best. Luckily, all of the kids in our extended family have turned out great, without too many scrapes and bumps along the way. Their greatest treasure is knowing that they have this huge, loving, supportive family that they can truly, truly count on, no matter where they are, no matter when the need arises. I just wish that all kids had this advantage of a family that loves and supports without judgment and condemnation. I just wish . . .

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