Have I really become my parents? Oh, have I ever! Will I ever grow up?

My daughter is now in her forties, married, mother of a wonderful grandchild for me, and has a great husband.  She is in the midst of a career in which she is very successful; it is completely different from mine and I know next to nothing about the field.

Why do I feel driven to give her advice on how to conduct her life?  Because I am my parents’ son?  Maybe it’s typical of all parents.

Why do I feel that she isn’t in touch as often as I would like?  When she doesn’t call back soon after I leave a message or a conversation must be shortened because she is involved in something pressing, why am I a little sad?  She is not out of touch; she calls and texts often enough for me to know how she and her family are doing, almost always, its “fine.”  (“Fine” is a word that means, in this context, “it’s too complicated to explain to someone not part of my setting and it boils down to the fact that we are all doing well.  No big problems.”).  I said “fine” too.

I don’t know the answers but I do know the same thing happened between me and my parents at the same stage of my life and their lives.

I’m the one who has to grow up here.  My daughter and her family are doing fine; they don’t need me and I’m still needing her and her family.  Yet, to whatever degree I can take credit, she is doing and being what I wanted most for her.  I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.  She is a really good “kid” and, she’s my “kid.”  By what right do I feel saddened by our current relationship?

The fact is, I don’t know how to be 72.  I still want her to depend on me for something, anything, that is especially mine to give her.  Don’t ask me what; my career offers nothing for her and otherwise she has many of my characteristics (luckily, she missed out on my looks, she’s beautiful).  We even share some eccentricities; I don’t like birds and she doesn’t either.  Audubon Societies across the land could demonstrate against us.  The list of shared agreement could go on.

My last conversation with my father, the Sunday before he died of a heart attack on Wednesday, he chastised me for not calling home more often (ostensibly, because my mother wanted to stay in closer touch but she was a very outspoken mother who would have told me that herself if she were bothered by it).  Fortunately, that was a small part of the call and is not my primary “last memory” of talking to him but I haven’t forgotten it even now.

Now I’m thinking the same thing he was thinking (although not attributing it to her mother) and I think I understand him more than I could have imagined.

Time I learned how to be 72; where’s the “How To” book?

Anybody out there who feels the same way?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I’ve Become My Parents.”

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Reading comments and wondering what I’m missing…

Yesterday I commented favorably on the header, revised version, of https://mitneurodermitisleben.wordpress.com/.

Today I read all the comments on the changes made to the image to improve it (or at least improve it from the perspective of those commenting on the earlier larger image) and discovered that I really did not grasp or notice the changes the author made from the first to second version.

Both were beautiful to me; either one would be superb in my view.  I seem to be a words, i.e., content person, insensitive to graphic issues that are not directly related to content.  Am I alone in this?  Aesthetically challenged?  I recognize that a blog devoted largely to photographs or artworks requires of the author, for his or her own satisfaction, whatever the reader’s response.  What I don’t get is how changes influence blogs not primarily concerned with works of art.

While on the subject, my own title appears to be unalterable in size or font.  My header photo is not the recommended size.  I have no idea if those things can be changed, but my experiments have failed to this point.

Suggestions on “sensitivity,” title size and font, “header optimal size” will be much appreciated.

Virginia Woolf on writing…found in Brain Pickings

I haven’t read much on writing, but there are writers worth reading on the subject, even when their work is difficult.  For me, anyway, Virginia Woolf is difficult and I still don’t know what to think about some of her books that I’ve read.

Brain Pickings’ Virginia Woolf on writing selection.

John McPhee, (in an earlier post about writing) is clear, straightforward and, to me, readily understandable on any topic he’s written about and I’ve read.

Both are excellent writers, different as they are.

Nugget on 9/11/2001 memories heard on NPR yesterday…

While listening to NPR in the car yesterday I learned:

25% of Americans alive today have been born since 9/11/2001 or were too young to have any memory of that day.

The Population Clock

It’s time we should think through not only what we want to pass on about that day, but what we ought to remember.  Emotions, facts, photos or videos, should be useful to the future.  It should help us grasp its real meaning.

It will not be an easy task.

To my ideal reader, belatedly…

During the last 14 years, since 9/11/2001, the United States has fallen victim to several forces that threaten the premises and future of the country.  Among them are:

  1. Fear.  Fear, like gratitude, is an unlimited resource; no matter how much we have, there is always more to be had.  When one fear is handled, there is always something else to fear; whenever you are grateful to someone, there is someone else to be thanked.  Neither is ever exhausted.  One, fear, can be immobilizing – even terrorizing at its worst – and thoughtful analysis leading to intelligent solutions is impossible or at best, impaired.  Quick responses take the place of close examination of the content of the fear and old solutions can be imposed inaptly on dissimilar situations.
  2. “Systemic” solutions to “one-off” events.  There is a difference between something horrific that has the potential to be repeated and something that is as unlikely today as it was the day before it once happened.  Passing a law to control absolutely, for law-abiders, the chance of a repeat is a “fool’s errand.”  Passing a law to control against and set norms for acceptable behavior in settings capable of significant repetition is wise and useful.  The task of determining the difference between the “fool’s errand” and the wise and useful law requires calm analysis, it is not always obvious.
  3. Increasingly the individual protections afforded us from prohibited actions by our government are being interpreted to meet government’s desire for “convenience” in the performance of its duties.  The premise of the Fourth Amendment is that the government must cross a high threshold of argument or evidence to search or seize anything you have.  The modern premise is almost the reverse; you must show why it shouldn’t search and seize your things.  We are not quite there yet but the current direction is clear.  A warrant from a secret court that reports to  the executive branch’s Justice Department is altogether different from having a warrant from a court that is part of the Judicial branch even if it makes life easier for the government.  Make no mistake, changes in how our rights are protected in threatening times is essential (or at least worth serious consideration of specific proposals for change) and we would be foolish to assume that the threats we now recognize are different from those we thought on 9/10/2001.  But our hasty response is now the law, with few changes, and some of those hastily made, and, after 14 years it will be hard to make even the most intelligent changes.
  4. Our fundamental understanding of the world has been dramatically stretched.  Companies all of us would have identified as “American” in 2001 are now so thoroughly global that they respond to interests and authorities worldwide.  They are unable to function as strictly American.
  5. Our communications capabilities, even for ordinary people like most bloggers, have been made worldwide.  (I can remember when it was important to get off the phone as quickly as possible when making a long-distance call; a 600-mile long-distance call could dramatically affect the family phone bill.  Business was conducted on long-distance quickly and the call was over. Now, social media, cell technology, etc. permits the most voluble people to enjoy themselves without worry of “busting” the family budget.)
  6. We are manipulated by government, industry, media opinion (this last often endowing its own employees of no notable accomplishment in the field under discussion with the status of “experts”), intense advertising exposure, political organizations whose auspices are as undefined, and others too numerous to mention.  The notion that we are able to gain correct, if limited, information about the topics important to the concerned public is defied, not by limited information but by a surfeit of information.  A simple search engine query will produce more results, even allowing for duplicates, will overwhelm one.

One’s heart would be stone, or that of an outright enemy, not to feel sympathy for the families who lost people on 9/11 or who found themselves at home with people so irrevocably changed by their experience that day that nothing since has seemed “normal” as they had previously understood that to mean.

But we have all been changed; much of what we understood to be “true” is no longer true.  Not all the new is bad, even from the perspective of an old guy like me, but what is to come should learn especially from our recent past.

My ideal reader would give that some thought and engage with me; I’m old enough to learn.

Late “Why I’m here…”

If my thinking is strong enough on the subjects that interest me most, national security, civil liberties, intelligence agencies and related issues, secrecy, law, and, perhaps later in the cycle, contemporary politics in the US, I would like to present my views publicly for criticism.

While I don’t agree with everything (most things) there and I’m certainly not as well qualified to comment as its contributors are, my model, if I have one, is Lawfare, a Brookings Institution site.

Prior to a recent “remodeling,” it was a modified WP blog.  It may still be for all I know.  It is the earlier version that moved me to take this course, along with my regular blog which has never amounted to much, in part because my knowledge of WP is so weak.  Lawfare’s “surveillance” topic is  here:

“Surveillance” topic at Lawfare

My views are somewhat “contrarian,” on my topics although not entirely so.  More to the point, they tend toward thinking that “the truth,” whatever it is, is understandable, often, like the devil, found in the details, and is either logically so or requiring greater exploration and elaboration.

The other reason for being here is that WP obviously offers much more than I know how to use advantageously and I didn’t find any other way to learn about it that seemed as likely to prove understandable as this WP course.

Since I’ve gotten a late start on the course, I’ve already learned a lot from the course and the participants.  Thanks to all.