Family

I believe I finally understand what a family is – well, at least to me.

A child is a part of one’s self. They are an extension of your persona, as real and as meaningful as an arm or leg, or possibly a part of your brain. When a child gets ill, you get ill with them. When they do well at school, you feel you are doing well at school and when they fail or fall, you feel the same way. When they get a career, you gain a career, when they learn, you learn and when they do well, you do well. When they make their own family it adds to that extension and the grandchildren and spouses equally become a part of you.

I am not talking about the material side of things but rather it is as if you have achieved or failed at their fortune or misfortune. You assume, with little ability to refuse or influence, the weight of this incredibly emotional and, often as not, rewarding experience. This explains a great deal about the intense emotions that accompany their growth from conception to your death (or sadly dementia).

It is a very one-way relationship. Your children do not feel the same way about you, they can’t. You are not an extension of them. In fact, I suspect their whole makeup is to try and break away from that bond to establish their own life, independent existence.

Your partner is also an extension and equally, you live through them, their fortunes, illness, struggles. I don’t think it is with the same passion and un-breakablility that lies with a child but it is equally demanding and rewarding on you. The existence of children from that partnership just cements the relationship even more. Divorce, while catastrophic for the ego, is tolerable, but the loss of a child is an unremitting grief like losing a limb or worse.

What does all this mean? Well, it gives you something to consider (and few of us do) what becoming parents really does to you. It undoubtedly grows you but each child demands so much more of whatever it is that gets us up in the morning. It is why in the middle of the night you go and get them, you give them whatever you can, you spoil them, you struggle with punishment and you welcome them back into your home at any time because you are doing it for or to yourself. You think, why am I doing this? You are doing it for you.

I have to think more on this but it gives me an understanding of why we are not perfect parents as we are not perfect in looking after ourselves. We can expect no more than what we can deliver. We get fat, we exercise, we study, we get upset, we fail and we succeed – we are indeed human and that is how we manage all our bits and pieces including our extensions.

Is it selfish? In a way. It certainly relates to “the self”, but is it selfish to avoid walking on glass, is it selfish to eat well? I think it is simply that these human entities are now part of our “self” and we have no choice but to do our best to look after our “self”.

I have a lot more to think about on this but that’s enough for now – my brain is starting to ache.

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Barista or Watchmaker – Skills Untapped

I was watching the care and attention being lavished by a very ‘professional’ barista at my breakfast cafe this morning and started to feel exasperated once again by humanity.

coffee

What a terrible waste of human potential and fine motor skills. Are we losing these skills as part of the digital revolution? It’s great to churn out a million faultless accurate digital clocks on the production line every few days but when compared to the complexity and skill of the watchmaker have we lost too much?

Is there not something we should be doing to enhance our dexterity and fine construction skills? Are robotics and micro drone construction where these skills might grow? Fine nanotechnology construction or is it simply too fine for human fingers. Will robots once again appear on the job front?

While it is understandable that we lose skills as we progress through waves of innovation but what values did the typesetter, the stonemason, the blacksmith bring to our understanding that we can no longer support? Of course not all is lost with jewelers and electronic technicians continuing their trades.

Oh well, something more for me to ponder while praising the attentive barista for his skill (and suggest he might like to be a surgeon)!

watch

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Dark Clouds for Shopping!

For many years I wandered into my local Harvey Norman, WOW or JB HiFi store, excited and wanting to explore and buy but now the dream is dead. Now I look at shelves and shelves of material and as my hand reaches out I realise I simply don’t need to buy it.

Streaming down movies from Netflix, Quickflix, iTunes or Foxtel completely fill my viewing time leaving dozens of “will watch one day” Blu-Rays lying in cupboards gathering dust. Records and CDs previously ripped (legally) are now boxed and in storage with countless hours of MP3s waiting patiently on hard drives to be listened to and now rapidly being replaced by the ease of MOG and Spotify music streaming providing all the hours of new and old material I can imagine and more. Add in hundreds of hours of podcasts and YouTube videos and sleeping hours disappear rapidly.The radio is a lost memory.

Books and magazines are now on line so the bookshop, library and newsagents no longer hold their past excitement or attraction. Even the breakfast newspaper is waiting patiently for download, though the steadily decreasing quality of content and journalism means it easy to skip for a news app on the phone.

It is a rapidly changing and disrupted world in so many ways. The commercial stores are looking down a serious barrel of dysfunction and my shopping days are no more.

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Beginnings and Ends

My life at present seems surrounded by beginnings and ends!

“Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin.” C. JoyBell C.

One of my children ends his high school years and begins both the buffeting of the pseudo adulthood of an 18 year old and that unpredictable journey offered by a University tugging him into a new and exciting educational experience. My wife and I are also beginning to understand what it will be like for us as our children are no longer around to delight and irritate and we end a fairly onerous period of taxi driving or supervising and begin a new and longer period of anxiety and worry not knowing how they are coping in this sometimes abrupt and unforgiving society.

It gives one, albeit very late in life, an understanding of how ones parents must have felt as I blundered through adolescence and independence. Sadly they are also ending their life journeys as they begin to receive the highly supportive care offered to our elderly in nursing homes along with that inevitable and crushing loss of independence.

I too am at a beginning as I look toward the ending of employment and the tensions and hopefully joys of retirement and maintaining a happy lifestyle.

Every day it seems like some aspect of the even tenor of our way is tested and challenged. Is that a bad thing?

Richard Halliburton in the novel The Royal Road to Romance (1925) challenges me with this letter from a son –

” Dad, you hit the wrong target when you write that you wish I were at Princeton living in the even tenor of my way. I hate that expression and as far as I am able I intend to avoid that condition. When impulse and spontaneity fail to make my “way” as uneven as possible then I shall sit up nights inventing means of making life as conglomerate and vivid as possible. Those who live in the even tenor of their way simply exist until death ends their monotonous tranquility. No, there’s going to be no even tenor with me. The more uneven it is the happier I shall be. And when my time comes to die, I’ll be able to die happy, for I will have done and seen and heard and experienced all the joy, pain, thrills — every emotion that any human ever had — and I’ll be especially happy if I am spared a stupid, common death in bed. So, Dad, I’m afraid your wish will always come to naught, for my way is to be ever changing, but always swift, acute and leaping from peak to peak instead of following the rest of the herd, shackled in conventionalities, along the monotonous narrow path in the valley. The dead have reached perfection when it comes to even tenor!”

I wonder if I can expect such a communication probably as an email from one or both of my offspring?

And so my daily journey continues passing through life like towns on a map, heading forward with good intentions, high expectations, timidity and awe but with an element of randomness that both frustrates and delights.

I think I will take on board the words of Carl Bard –

“Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.”

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Dogs and Cats – Kids and Parents

This little analogy came down the internet and seems to have some relevance to me at this point in my journey. Maybe it is not correct but it is uplifting.

I just realised that while children are dogs – loyal and affectionate – teenagers are cats. It’s so
easy to be a dog owner. You feed it, train it, boss it around. It puts its head on your knee and gazes
at you as if you were a Rembrandt painting. It bounds indoors with enthusiasm when you call it.

Then around age 13, your adoring little puppy turns into a big old cat. When you tell it to come
inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who died and made you emperor. Instead of dogging your
doorsteps, it disappears. You won’t see it again until it gets hungry – then it pauses on its sprint
through the kitchen long enough to turn its nose up at whatever you’re serving. When you reach
out to ruffle its head, in that old affectionate gesture, it twists away from you, then gives you a blank
stare, as if trying to remember where it has seen you before.

You, not realising that the dog is now a cat, think something must be desperately wrong with it. It
seems so antisocial, so distant, sort of depressed. It won’t go on family outings.
Since you’re the one who raised it, taught it to fetch and stay and sit on command, you assume
that you did something wrong. Flooded with guilt and fear, you redouble your efforts to make your
pet behave.

Only now you’re dealing with a cat, so everything that worked before now produces the opposite
of the desired result. Call it, and it runs away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the counter. The more you go toward it, wringing your hands, the more it moves away.

Instead of continuing to act like a dog owner, you can learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a
dish of food near the door, and let it come to you. But remember that a cat needs your help and your
affection too. Sit still, and it will come, seeking that warm, comforting lap it has not entirely forgotten.

Be there to open the door for it.

One day your grown-up child will walk into the kitchen, give you a big kiss and say “You’ve been
on your feet all day. Let me get those dishes for you.”

Author Unknown, Source Unknown (Afterhours Inspirational Stories)

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eHealth Review Australia 2013

Worked through a range of submissions that have allegedly been sent to the 2013 eHealth review. I was heartened by the level of thoughtful commentary.

Australia is definitely on the right track. The submissions indicate a healthy debate and detail a working infrastructure, a challenged yet interested community, many and varied yet clear wishes and needs with a plea for a carefully constructed road map to arise for following into the future. Big demands on a three man review but the successes in November 2013 in some jurisdictions make any suggestions that we go backwards rather than forwards a sad outcome.

We have truly achieved a lot and while no one will deny that with the benefit of hindsight we might have done bits better and cheaper but ….

… pick up a stone, throw it forward, walk toward the stone, pick it up, throw it forward and repeat!

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June 17 2014 – Today’s Guilty Pleasures

tetris-1

No time for any guilty pleasures this week … but wait … yes!
Yep still have this somewhere!

Thirty years ago, an annoying little computer game that dropped geometrically challenged blocks of various shapes, associated with some infinitely boring 8 bit music gave us the finger tripping TETRIS! Thank you Alexey Pajitnov and the now defunct USSR. Hundred’s of millions of copies later it is still being played in dozens of variations and on every console and mobile platform around. It remains as frustrating as ever.

Go on only play it only once! I dare you.

Play it here if you are game (not malware checked so beware) – remember it came from Russia.

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June 12 2014 – Today’s Guilty Pleasures

Driving my daughter to school today and listening to Crosby Still and Nash – “Teach Your Children”. A wonderfully evocative piece of nostalgia for me. I listened to it as a child and many years later as an adult and now as a parent. Truly a guilty pleasure today.

Crosbystillsandnash

Here are the lyrics:

“Teach Your Children”

You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of the tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix,the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

Have great day – what was your guilty pleasure today?

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June 10 2014 Today’s Guilty Pleasures

A very mixed guilty pleasure with the tragic death of Rick Mayall at 56.

rick

Spending half an hour on YouTube remembering all the insane antics of these three very talented individuals that for a young university student was so funny! Don’t ask me what the stories are about but gosh I enjoyed Nigel and Vivian?

Hope you have some nice memories as well.

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