You finally were able to clear the archeological site at your house. Everyone has one, the closet or attic or garage that is the catch all whenever you get tired of that pile of stuff too important to throw away but not important enough to be left in a pile in the living room.
The bag of memories from your family trip to Puerto Rico that will someday make an awesome travel story (travel writer is on your bucket list). 12 years of your kid’s schoolwork that you just can’t get rid of (What to do with the collection of knitted gnomes from their Waldorf education?)
You have had many projects: The Bear Valley Ragg, your newspaper with one issue. Red Cow World, the art program that was going to change the world through art. SMART, the other art program that was going to change the world through art. Sonoma High School of the Arts, the third art program that was going to change the world through art (Do you see a trend here?). And the Arts & Ethics Academy great on paper but victim to its own expansion. RIP Dyan Foster, your vision will not be forgotten.
Plus there’s the artwork, the many years of bad paintings for your wife before you finally realized that she would prefer a bracelet from Tiffanys. And, of course, the photos, like real photos, boxes of photos documenting the ups and the downs. And what kind of heartless parent throws away photos?
You won’t dwell on the specific deets of what you unearthed during the dig (Yes! Nacho Libre costume!) But five things stood out.
- You’ve been saying and writing the same thing for 30 years and it might be time to try out some new material.
- Pictures make you realize overall it’s been a pretty good ride.
- A failed project sometimes ferments into a later success.
- Life is not a straight line but rather a series of ups and downs hopefully ending in the right place.
- The right place is fluid.
It’s the last two that have gotten you thinking as it is also kinda the theme of your summer. You have been having a similar conversation with a number of people mostly around the path of your cherished offspring. Your kids are no longer kids and as such they are facing all those ugly realities of life (Birth, School, Work, Death https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO5dcW0P75M). Some are thriving, some are reevaluating, and some are taking a little longer than others (see #4).
Course if you do it right there will be more smiles than frowns and soon your kids will become healthy independent taxpayers. But first they must get over the good parent entitlement that you’ve unfortunately instilled because you are a good parent and you didn’t know any better. Then they must learn that struggle and hard work lead to growth and that it is much better to try and fail than not try at all.
You have been closely following the Thai soccer team ordeal. These are the stories that make you proud to be human. In times of crisis, we (rational people not affiliated with the current administration) come together to solve problems. We pour resources where they are needed to help achieve a positive outcome. We don’t fight and argue and demean, we send our personal underwater submarine because we want to do something and we have resources (thanks Elon).
We all get stuck in caves. And sometimes we need a little help to get out.
What if we used the Thai soccer team example in other areas of life? What if we declared an environmental or moral or humanistic crisis and said that we need some help getting out of the cave. What if Elon and his tech bro cronies chose an issue a year and poured in resources. Could we solve homelessness and drug addiction and starvation and gun control and climate change? Maybe, maybe not but I bet the process would lead to some great struggles and growth and really wouldn’t that be a better use of time than developing a car that can drive itself?
Going through the layers of life made you realize that yes, it is all worth it. The struggles have improved your grit, the hard work is paying off, failure has led to learning, and even though the lid is off the sewer, you don’t have to jump in.
Time to exit the cave.