Yesterday I went Christmas shopping and had Man Child, Nerd Child, and Flower Child decorate the tree. It all had to be done, and I just didn’t feel like it. I am rarely “on top of” the Christmas shopping. I always swear I will budget for it throughout the year, shop early, but usually, I’m scrambling, same as I’m doing now. I wondered why I do this at all, do Christmas presents even make any sense? This is the first year where I only have one child in school this week before Christmas, both boys are on break already. Great! Except it feels like the school knows this, and therefore ramped up the extras so I can still spend my week running on empty from obligation to obligation.
I’m feeling umm, off balance since the shooting in Newtown CT on Friday. I stand by my statement from my last post, it didn’t make any sense and it still doesn’t. If anything, I’m more confused than I was 4 days ago. What does this level of grief mean for our nation? How much is personal, for the families and immediate community, and how much is ours, as a society, to take on? Where’s the line between sharing the burden of grief and glamorizing a heinous act? People are talking, and I hope they continue to do so. Much of the talk is bluster and rhetoric, I can toe that crap to the side without a problem. But I’ve also seen the beginnings of thoughtful discourse, with points and possibilities that should be explored. I am not a historian, and don’t know what was intended by the 2nd Amendment, or the correct way to apply it, if at all, in today’s society.
We are a nation of freedoms. With freedom comes responsibility. Or in the plain English of Fringeland, the freedom to fuck up. This is what, in my opinion, we should be talking about. Personal responsibilities and how they apply to our families, our communities, our society. I think, long ago, this used to be called ethics. But no, I don’t have a romanticized vision of the way things “used to be.” The reality is there are other atrocities that no longer occur here, are no longer legal or acceptable, that once were.
I ran around yesterday, my very best chicken without a head routine. At the end of the day, I went to walk a dog. This dog’s owners have become friends, and are two people I respect and admire tremendously. Man Child came with me, and though I’ve known them a few years now, this was the first time they were meeting. A moment. In the midst of these days heavy with both bullshit and mourning, a moment of beauty. I like these friends very much, they live their lives with integrity, and embody lives well lived. Another, newer friend recently met Nerd Child. Another beautiful moment. I like my children, they are thoughtful human beings and define possibilities. One has a strong sense of duty, immediate responsibilities. One has a keen instinctive eye for looking at the greater good, seems to have been born with the scales of justice connecting the chambers of his heart. One has an exquisite sense of social justice, crying at the thought of anyone being hungry. They have their own thoughts and opinions, separate from mine, Husband’s, and each other.
I don’t think I’ve hit on the purpose or meaning of life, as a parent or otherwise. I hold no answers, and as I get older, find more questions. As a parent, I want my children to believe in themselves and strive for their dreams, achieving some. I want them to be responsible, contributing members of society. I want their dreams to include being responsible, contributing members of society. I want them to have their moments, hopefully more than I do, but still, moments when they can take a breath and say, “this is ok. I am ok.”
Personal moments aren’t enough to put aside the greater questions we need to examine and try to answer. They do not, can not, and should not negate loss, personal or public. Personal loss does not negate community or societal obligations. But if we value these moments, and recognize them because of their potential impact on others, they can matter.