A couple months ago, I had dinner(ish) and drinks (more of this) with a friend, and in the course of our conversation we spoke of many things – “of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.” We talked of opportunities passed by and wasted potential – and ultimately, whether they mattered when considering one’s overall happiness. Continue reading
Divorce is a funny thing. Even in a case such as mine, where everything is amicable and hunky-dory, divorce by its nature represents change. It’s now been almost 14 months since my ex and I filed for divorce, and nearly three years since we officially separated. And not surprisingly, the impact of that action has continued to change, morph and mature as time has gone on.
Funny thing about this August – I’ve had the chance to catch up in person with quite a number of high school friends – some of whom I haven’t seen in about 16-17 years. And it’s been kind of weird. When you go this long without seeing people, they tend to remain eternally frozen in the moment you last saw them. Think Han Solo in carbonite. Though hopefully without the look of intense pain. And somehow against all practical reality – despite knowing intellectually that a decade and a half of intense change have passed – some deep-seated, emotional part of you half expects that your friends will thaw out from that carbonite of time slightly worse for wear but fundamentally with the same boyish good looks, rakish smile, devil-may-care attitude and smartass remarks.
With the passings of Ray Bradbury and Sally Ride, and the successful launch of Curiosity, I’ve been thinking a lot about space exploration and the importance of science and the drive to learn more, to ask why, to discover. As the mother of a three-year-old, I want desperately to bottle her sense of wonder and to do everything I can to prevent it from disappearing.
I’ve spent a lot of time rah-rahing about how my life isn’t as bad as people think it is, and I stand by that. But as I was driving to meet my friend L for dinner a few weeks ago (a half hour late) as she prepared for her wedding, I realized that I’m not being entirely honest. So it’s time for an apology – of sorts.
On Facebook today, I was pointed to a great article in a local blog about a high school commencement speech from Friday, which was, in a word, fantastic. But before I get into why, let’s take a step back.
I frequently have conversations with friends where we lament the inability of “the younger generation” (shudder. I can’t believe I just said that.) to fend for themselves. The sense of entitlement seems currently to be out of all proportion with reality. Virtually an entire generation has been raised to be praised, petted and catered upon. We give awards for showing up, and tell our children that they are smart, when they’re merely being average; that all that matters is that you tried your best even though we know that the wider world cares about results than it does about effort.
Even with my own generation, I’ve often commented (before the recession) that my generation seems to think that we’re entitled to be fulfilled by our job. That we deserve to find a job that not only pays us well, but that fulfills us as people and our desire to do good in the world (two things, sadly, that are usually mutually exclusive).
For you news junkies out there, you may have heard about the 180-lb tumor that was removed from a 32-year-old Vietnamese man, Nguyen Duy Hai, in Ho Chi Minh City. If you saw it, you probably had an “oh my god,” “gross,” “wow that’s incredible” or a “can you imagine?” moment. I’ve had those moments too. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve also had the “I’m so glad it isn’t me” reaction. I think all these reactions are perfectly normal. It’s one way that we remind ourselves that despite all our complaints, there are still many, many people who have it worse than we do in some way, shape or form.
But for me, this story was an unpleasant reminder of what could happen to my little girl. Just six short weeks ago, I talked about the struggle for calm in the face of my daughter’s neurofibromatosis (NF type 1). Because it turns out that this Vietnamese man also has NF1.