Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Two Girls and the American Breakdown

I don't know if we're just getting old and tired, or if the world really is getting more and more chaotic and demanding. If I think about history, I am certain there are times in the evolution of Western Civilization that folks had it pretty darn bad.

But damn.

Adolescents and social fantasy make parenting tactics anachronistic

That is true. Any parent over the age of 40 who is parenting an adolescent knows that is true. What is an anachronism? 

Anachronism - My mother's well played fear and guilt tactics that made me behave due to an irrational fear of public shame and sudden death by an out-of-control fly swatter.

That shit worked.

Not so much today.

Tammy and I did not have the ethereal support of social media, smart phones, and well-connected friends. We were certain to have long periods of social isolation when we walked through the front door, after school. We never really got a private chat in because Dad was going to pick up the phone in the kitchen and listen just long enough to embarrass before yelling, "Get off the phone!"

Today is fast, suggestive, driven by 6 seconds of fame, and things no kid needs to experience before the age of gainfully employed. Currently, our kid thinks she's a roommate rather than a captive ward of the house, and she's really, really lucky our fly swatter only swats flies.

We're not really cool parents. We're exhausted parents who work too hard to spend much time enjoying the things we've earned in life. Our kid tries to reach us via a Pandora station for 80's Country, but friends, Tammy and I are hopelessly lost in the grind.

Digital Marketing Job + Bilingual Healthcare Job = A Sartre Quote

Jean-Paul Sartre

I'm thinking about Jean-Paul Sartre because an NPR commentator, during my morning commute, was talking about his girlfriend, Simone de Beauvoir, who was an existential feminist of sorts. Frankly, I'm not even sure Simone could handle mine and Tammy's workload. With that, I quote the great philosopher himself.

"Everything has been figured out, except how to live."

There are two girls who have committed to the long game to get one kid through school, while remaining debt free, plus building our assets, so we can retire and live simply and comfortably. These two girls get up every morning, before sunrise, and battle Austin traffic to go to jobs that feel like mental sprints. These two girls come home and look at each other with this strange empty exhaustion that longs for a moment to slow down and "just be."  

Tammy says that. "Just be." But I swear, I have no idea how to do that. I cannot figure out how to live anymore. So what is it?  What changed?  Have we slowly amped up the expectations of American life to the point that we can barely keep up with it?  We're both really good at our jobs, but to what cost? My brain moves too fast. It always has. And I am extremely systematic and compartmentalized. Until just recently, systematic compartmentalization was working. Last week, I had to fight back the urge to lay on the horn while racing down the breakdown lane while cussing at traffic while trying to get home in under an hour.

That's crazy.

My mind was shot from managing a large corporation's multiple website commerce needs. My patience was long gone for being pleasant about it. Austin traffic did me in.

Tammy is shot from 10 hours a day of patients who have never had their teeth cleaned, so their teeth are falling out, and they don't speak English, and they bring screaming kids to the appointment because they're too poor for child care. She battles the same insane traffic, and it makes her late more often than not.

I'll stop whining now and say this...

We think we have to live this way. We think we've got it figured out. Except the part about living. So with that thought hanging out there, let me end with one more Sartre quote:

"Man is not the sum of what he has already, but rather the sum of what he does not yet have, of what he could have."

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