15 January 2013

Fare thee well, my own true love

Daughter #2 is struggled her way back to school after Winter Break: the fog somewhere made the flying slow. It is hard to be en route when you want to be there.
And it was hard to see her off again; in the sound track of my mind I hear Bob Dylan’s “Farewell.” In the song it is the narrator who is heading for travel, and though the leaving is without regret, it is also with some pain.
So it’s fare thee well my own true love
We’ll meet another day, another time
It ain’t the leavin’
That’s a-grievin’ me
But my true love who’s bound to stay behind
Of course, it was not my true love but me who seems bound to stay behind. But what might I mean by ‘staying behind,’ when in fact I am far in front of her in years and experience. The young often consider their lives as a catching up to the elders, and the elders often look back on the young with caution and some envy. There is a line in an episode of “Girls” in which a doctor doing a gynecological exam and listening to Hannah anxiously express her myriad concerns, says “God, I wouldn’t want to be 24 years old again.”  I think that what she means is that she would never want to experience again the angst and uncertainty that must be part of being young. Not that there isn’t angst and uncertainty at my age, but there is a certain settledness to this so-called maturity: I have developed sufficient strategies to alleviate the anxieties that accompany my desert wanderings, or sufficient strategies to mask the struggle. There are certainly things at this time of my life about which I no longer have to be concerned. The troubles ahead appear fewer. Which is not to minimize the growing spectre of mortality . . .
            Ah, there is too much cliché involved in this topic. What I think I might mean by ‘staying behind’ is that there is a certain caution that accompanies my decisions and movements that inhibits the exploration and enjoyment I attribute to the young and to my young children who are, they will remind me, well past young. I know, I know, my children are privileged, and I am proud that they have for now chosen socially responsible and non-lucrative professions. The world is today a troubled place, and last evening at a meeting we were advised of the many cautions that now are in place to protect our children in the event of emergencies in the schools. These drills are not new: when I was a student we ducked under our desks, or crouched against the walls between the classroom doors, head tucked to our chests and covered by our arms to protect the eyes from flying glass in case of nuclear attack. As if that would have helped. The bankruptcy of social programs and ethical standards today threatens the lives of our children no lessmaybe even more so because more possible, than those air raid drills.  
But forty years or so ago on my desks sat no computer, no cell phone, no iPod or iPad, no Kindles or Nooks or Tablets. These are fun and useful devices and they bring the world, troubled as it may be, to our chldren’s doors. I do want to see what comes next and to share these wonderous tools with the children: but I think I’ll have to be content to say fare thee well and suffer to be left behind.


Blogger Amy Block said...

This is a beautiful blog entry, Alan! Ah yes....what a challenge to artfully navigate the transition from parenting young children, to parenting those becoming adults. I, too, am striving to write about the experience for myself, and find the cliches minimize the depth of my feelings and thoughts. Yours are simply articulated. Thank you.....

19 January, 2013 09:22  

Post a Comment

<< Home