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  1. TheBluegrassSkeptic

    Purposeful Childhoods

    Some days, I sit by and physically go out and watch the world, and other days I watch the television. Both provide me with flashes of childhood and adulthood, insight and regret. I might catch a glimpse of small child, say about three, struggling with a parent, unsure of where they were going, but having some unknown blind intent declaring not to go the way of urging. The parent, in the midst of trying to reason with the child, is sure of where they are headed, a clear purpose in mind. This scenario always makes me pity the child. Pity my own childhood. The lost time of intentional purpose. The type of purpose that lasts a lifetime, and is your ultimate goal. I look at the average lifetime expectancy for members of my family, which is roughly 76 years. I spent nearly 24% of this time as a child, a minor by law. I didn't get a real sense of who I am and what I want to do until I hit 30. I realize that for each person this number varies, but it is still staggering to me, and I will say, grossly unfair. In all honesty, I would have been happier to have a more focused childhood. I don't always think we are doing our young a favor letting them live day to day. I do believe at some point, maybe when they hit 10 and 11, that we could start to focus them a bit more. Whether it be towards the arts, or science, anything but just living day to day without a larger picture in mind. I know the argument could be made that we are indeed giving them a larger picture in mind. A larger picture of just becoming an adult and living as a "good" person, but I feel that is innate within most of us anyway. I know my parents were not good teachers of living as good people, and I still have managed to figure it out for the most part without them. Why aren't we inspiring big picture thinking in our kids? Especially pre-teens, when it comes to life? I'm not talking career goals necessarily, but at least a general focus on a particular interest. Their brain cells are double and tripling during this time, this is the prime time to expose them to this type of thinking! This is the time for that self discovery that helps form pathways and interests to a truly productively full life. I know it was during this time I glanced onto writing much by accident, and if it hadn't been for all the shit I caught from friends and family for what I was writing, and instead maybe some focused guidance, I might have started the journey of authorship a lot sooner, and more successfully. Additionally, I would have found my spot in the Universe and the comforts that go witht hat realization a lot sooner as well. I do not agree that letting "children be children" is good enough. We are not robbing our youth of happy memories and childhood experiences by encouraging them to think ahead. I'm not talking about the ridiculous nature of dance schedules, sporting schedules, and band practice. I do agree there is an issue with parents trying to get their kids to do too much. I'm talking about a common interest and start focusing them early on it. It isn't hard to pick up early on what truly gets your child's attention. It isn't hard to see what is a passing fad and what is a common thread in their minds. A great example would be that of my eldest son. He's 12 and has an intense interest in design and creative arts. Everything from building Lego projects to wanting to learn how to go about forging ancient style weapons. His fascination for the creation of things is astounding. You can never go wrong buying him a book with illustrated examples of Steampunk themed creations or a visual encyclopedia of weaponry from the Stone Age to Present. He literally wears those books out, trying to understand how they were created. He has been like this since he could crawl. As soon as he was able to get out of his bouncer, he was crawling around it, and literally disassembled one before the age of 1. Did the same thing with many of his toys. It wasn't until he was about 8 or 9 that I realized it wasn't so much an engineering interest, but actually liking to create mechanisms of enjoyment. Didn't have to have a purposeful use, he was more into the art and aesthetics. So, we are following along, keeping him tuned into that. Everything else has faded by, but the art remains in his intentions in everything he does. Yes, he'll probably be a comic book guy with a side fancy for gadgets to compliment cosplay. In all seriousness. Hollywood artist is probably where he'll end up, and that is awesome. Like myself, he sees the value in creation. It's your ultimate thumbprint on the world. Yes, I'm a little pissed about how unfocused my childhood was. It didn't help I had very selfish parents to begin with either, but it seems like a double burn to me at times. If you don't already actively help your child think big picture, it is never too late to start. Trust me, your encouragement will be cherished in the long run, and I believe it will provide even more fond appreciation for growing up within your child's reflections when an adult.
  2. So here I sit this fine September 12, 2012, evening. I am reflecting on all the horrible news that has hit our airwaves over the last eleven years. The revolutions. The civil wars. The oppressive nature of clashing societal beliefs and standards. Hostages having their heads sawn off with field knives. Bombings of embassies. The outright thievery of corporations from their workers. The millions of dead from the outcomes of our wars. Even the dastardly speculating on everyday commodities that is making harder to afford food. Honestly, I cannot differentiate the deaths of September 11th, 2001, from the rest of the tragedies in this world. I've tuned in to the tragedy and aggression channel since that harrowing day, and when this date rolls around, the Pentagon, the lonely field in Pennsylvania, and the Twin Towers are not the first images that flash into my mind. I really feel that the 11th of September is a day of reflection like many treat it, but I think they only focus on the one tree in the forest. When you step back from the emotional grave marker in your mind that sits in front of this tree and start to look at all the other markers by other trees in this metaphorical wilderness, it brings perspective and sobering truths about man and society. This day that everyone is giving a moment of silence to, in my life, brings guilt into my very being. Physically, I can feel this guilt creep in to my mind when I read about a Pakistani garment factory burning to the ground. Why would I feel guilty for that? Because my heart has hardened and I don't want to send them money to develop safe conditions in the workplace, even though this industry accounts for nearly 20% of their country's economical pie. I don't trust how our money would be allocated or used for the common good. This is a day that as many look down at their shoes in respectful recognition of the lives rocked for generations by a religious assault, I recognize how much of this religion is still assaulting us, and that our society instigates these conflicts on a daily basis. We insist on conflict in our society. We have brought children into this world during a time of crisis, and they don't know any other way of life than perpetual crisis. You can see examples of this in reality television. It isn't about the reality of a job, it's about insults, fights and disrespect. This is the day that I can almost hear and feel the intense percussion of mortars crashing into an apartment next door, that Palestinian children are hiding under their mothers' robes from. I feel guilty knowing I helped pay for the rocket that is destroying their street they were planning to play stick ball on later that night. This is the day I remember that we are not the only ones who have suffered tragedy, and that many still are suffering dire circumstances beyond their control. This is the day that I wake up after being kept in a sedated political haze for 364 days prior. And on this day, I am angry, sad, feeling hopelessly out of control and out of touch, and I immerse myself in all the pain and acknowledge my contribution to the problem. As a people, on the face of this rock in space, we all need to wake up and understand the role we play. There are never situations so big that there is not a single way we are not related to it somehow. It is impossible to not affect one another, even indirectly, because we are all part of the same race, sharing the same playground together. Taking responsibility for whatever we can, while we can, will make a difference in generations to come. I do not want my future relatives to stay on this path of alienating denial. Take a dip in the dark pools of reality every year on September 11th, and open yourself to comprehension of the world around you.
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