I try to read the papers; I watch the news. Though not as much as I used to, Since I found it was affecting my mood. Better to walk on the oblivious side of the line every now and again (and be a little surprised when a coworker says something like “That was something about that pilot, huh?”) than to read the full story and spend an hour in the car alone driving my commute on the highway imagining what the last moments on the plane were like.
The world has become a different place than I thought it ever would—whether it’s my perception or reality (and I suspect it’s a bit of both). How each of us find our place in it is down to us. What you bring to it is as important as what you’re faced with.
I’ve seen this recently as my folks have gotten older. I see the erosion at the edges, sometimes little areas wearing down like the changing shape of a beach, other times I go looking for things in distant conversation on the phone and they aren’t there anymore. I need to get home more just to keep pace with the changes.
And where do I look to see what our future holds? It’s living right there in the house where I grew up, in many ways. And it’s not far off. I must be getting into that “midlife” everyone talks about. As the Spinal Tap character David St. Hubbins (played by Michael McKean) said as he looked at the Elvis’s grave: “Too much, too much f**king perspective.”
But there’s another kind of future, a really interesting and special one—sometimes funnier than Spinal Tap—living in my house with my wife and me. That’s my daughter, and she’s tremendous. She looks at the world with wide-eyed wonder and uses her own six years of perspective to understand and interpret what she sees. It goes without saying and grossly understates the point, but my wife and I love her a great deal.
And that’s what irks me when I tune into the news and really pay attention. I see the world’s challenges: environmental, political, economic, religious. People can’t get along with each other, and even worse, don’t have any interest in trying. Colleges try to protect their students from rape and from drinking themselves to death. Terrorists kill people over cartoons. And so it’s very occasional that I hear a very small voice in the back of my head asking: “How could we have brought her into this world?” Pain and fear for any parent, right there.
This is the other side of the coin about getting a boat. I want it for my daughter’s future as well as for our present. There’s something about boating, a wide and ever-growing base of knowledge that combines with experiences to create something inside her that she will carry with her throughout her life. Something that creates confidence, and a fuller understanding of what her capabilities are, and yes, her limitations, too. Something to help carry her through, when I’m there and when I’m not around.