Tuesday, April 7, 2009

living in a post-atomic world

I realize that not everyone wants the same things out of life or even lives by the same standards. Maybe in spite of myself, I am just old-school enough that a lot of what I strive for is considered *traditional*. I am at the tail-end of the baby boomers, but that's mostly a label because I really don't fit the bill. I didn't really grow up with Howdy Doody, Woodstock or the anti-war movement of Vietnam, although those things were on the periphery of my childhood. I always knew who the Beatles were (and even had the photos from the White Album proudly tacked to my bedroom wall... although that had to be later than 1968 when it was released) but I was never part of that phenomena. The baby boomers were (are?) a generation trying to distance themselves from everything their parents represented. I don't think that generation was always so bad.

When I look at life during the Atomic Age, I see certain qualities that I think our society could benefit from today. Sure, society had a stronghold on many of the creative movements we value today, and even take for granted, having always had those outlets in our lifetime. (On a more silver-lining kinda note, we wouldn't have had the very cool Beatnik movement without the need to break away from that suppression.) But if you drill down to the core principles of that era, I think you see that their reticence was more from fear (of change, of losing control) than anything else. It is the great human flaw to fear what we don't understand.

The mores that I am drawn to from that time include pride in country, a love of God, and the nuclear family. (I told you they are traditional.) These are concepts that, at best, are considered *nice* today. I think it's possible to incorporate these principles in our lives, make them ours, so to speak, but still reckon to the original tenor.

I tell you all this to explain that I spend a lot of time thinking about my family and how I can make their lives better. Sometimes it's little things and other times it is the memorable things (like our trip to The Netherlands.)

Like all parents, I want my pups to look back at their years under our roof as happy times. I want them to be proud of their family and overall think we did our best.

Lately, I've been thinking I've been letting the little things go a bit too often. I've been trying to think of ways I can change that. I work outside the home, so once I am here the list of things I need to do is endless. It is way too easy to focus on what I need to do instead of who I need to do it for. Keeping my thoughts in check is my infinite challenge. I endeavor to be peaceful. (Some days it's easier than others.) Balancing all the aspects of life can be hard work.

Years ago, a friend of mine made the comment along the lines of: Just because they're kids doesn't mean you shouldn't do your best. This was a new concept for me. I had been groomed as a parent to think just the opposite: They're kids... what do they care? Well, the truth is, the reality of that is somewhere in the middle. There are times that the little things are just that, little, and other times they are important. (I told you the balancing thing is hard work.)

Her rule of thumb was that if you would go the extra mile for *someone else*, you should do it for your family. That's an interesting proposition. Ultimately, I think she was on to something. Shouldn't we give the people we love the best our best? When we treat each other with this level of respect we learn graciousness and hospitality and compassion from one another. These are all qualities that get vacuumed up in our hectic post-atomic world. I think irregardless of how we chose to live our lives or raise our families, these are virtues we all value.

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