Wednesday, June 2, 2010

routine, or rut?

I love my parents, bless their mortal souls. And I do think I've veered, in my life, in a significantly different direction. I also think Jennifer Hecht is on to something. But what do I think about it?

The patterns we grew up in have a way of re-insinuating themselves into our lives as we age. This is not entirely a bad thing. She thinks it's a pretty good thing, on balance. My question today: does this phenomenon bode well or ill for the future of childhood, and the future of the mature spirit of childhood? In other words, can we embrace routine in adulthood without squinching the spontaneity and fun-loving freedom of childhood at its best?
Whether you love or hate your parents, you probably think that you operate pretty independently of them. I say that because psychology is so out of favor these days that some of its best truths are not part of the modern conversation.
The thing is, if your folks never gardened, you don’t much either. If you spend your spare time fixing electronics at home, and your parents didn’t, ask yourself if they did something that looked a lot like it. Did they sit at the kitchen table for hours with a set of tools and a bunch of items? Or were they always out skiing? Skiers who deny a patrimony of skiing still likely had parents who went outside and did stuff a lot. 
Was one of them at his or her desk all day? Are you at your desk all day? Did they have parties for their big life events and now do you? Did they take a lot of walks or not so much? You?
We think we branch off, and we do. We do. We go in some opposing direct, so as to exist. But we are still the same wood, same bark, same berries. 
They were lawyers, we are outlaws, or vice versa. Still, our basic behavior is a simple copy of theirs, because when we do things that feel, to our bodies, like the way our parents acted when we were growing up, we feel at home.
We can do other things, the things they never did, but we do not feel at home. Most of the time, as we get older, though we liberate ourselves from some of our inherited craziness, we also get weary of fighting against what feels right. So though we used to go listen to music in parks with hundreds of other people, and we did like it, we who were not raised doing it don’t much do it anymore.

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