Much is made about the difference between our generation (however long that is exactly or who is allowed to identify with it, I'm still a bit fuzzy on) and our parent's. And clearly there is some distance. Isn't there always? I mean parents just don't understand! And there's certainly more to it than just being a growing, hormonal, insecure, sexually budding, emotional volcano of a teenager. Because though everything seems worse than ever, that's not strictly true.
At least, every generation, seems to be more aware than the ones that preceded it. There are the so called losses.
And our generation (we're millennials, right?) has had some so called progresses.
Because what is it exactly? A competition in which the winners walk away with a powerless, ill-defined feeling of superiority. Mostly it seems to be a constant defense of the poor little millennial (LEAVE THEM ALONE GUYS, they have skills!) I blame Tom Brokaw. I really do. He means well, but his phrase "the greatest generation" is so offensive to me, I was actually a little embarrassed that he was the speaker at my college graduation (seems like a lovely man, though). Quite a few of our modern epidemics have an important crossroads with "the greatest generation" which sent us down the path we are today (environment, farming, food, finance, law enforcement). To blame them, would be irresponsible, because really the cause of these problems was WWII, but to reward them with elevated status just for having suffered through it, survived, prospered? I don't get it. Unless he was just saying, don't dehumanize us because we are elderly and developing normal, age-related diseases, some of which affect our brains. We lived rich, wonderful lives full of warmth and love and drama. Which maybe he was, but the phrase stuck in a different way. But it got people deep in the groove of thinking in this way.
My mom has a very different opinion of Tom Brokaw giving my graduation speech. She constantly talks about how her parent's generation was just harder working, full of more integrity, less prone to basic human flaws (on second thought, maybe I do see the low self esteem). I can' help but think about my (admittedly lovely) grandparents who raised my father. Without teaching him to communicate his feelings, who forced my father to finish at the Naval Academy even though he tried like hell to leave. I think about it every time I grapple with the lack of communication and the perception of uncaringness with my father (and his siblings). And I think, better? No I think THANK GOD for my mom, and for her family. Which was also crazy, but as you may or may not know about my Japanes Grandma: everything is game. You can (and probably will) talk about everything. Whether it's appropriate or not. I identify so strongly with that part of life. ACCEPTANCE OF MESSES. Which is really about acceptance. Because life is a beautiful mess.
It seems, every study or article I read that isn't medical/technological is about separating the human experience into as many subcultures and exceptions as possible. I look at this (which is fake) study as the perfect example of why this type of story weighs on my cheeks. It stated that people who enjoy inspirational quotes are less intelligent than those who don't. There's absolutely no way such an arbitrary distinction as "likes quotes" has anything profound to say about intelligence, but nevertheless, articles like this (despite being fake) allow people who aren't inspired by quotes to feel a sense of superiority and feel justified for their annoyance at people in their lives, who are just living based on what they like and what works for them. It give "proof" that one group is right. When neither term is appropriate.
All of this is a way of talking about what it is to live with your parents. I have realized this past week, that a lot of the distance between my mom and I comes from the fact that I feel as if she's too set in her ways for me to help her understand everything that I know. She doesn't understand the implications of the cost of meat, the wastefulness of paper plates for non-party meals, how the internet works, etc and so on. To write them down, makes me seem whiny I'm sure, but these are accepted truths, tenets even of how I live, and they cause friction.
The friction, is normal, when living with parents (stop asking me things when I'm on the toilet!), the hopelessness however, is fueled by the seas of articles encouraging specialization of experience. The truth is, whether or not my mom adapts to my ideals is irrelevant. Rare recipe ingredients and cynical knowledge of powerful post-industrial american systems are a part of who I am, and therefore I should share them with someone I love very much. On the same hand, they're not strictly better than loving morning talk shows and shopping extra hard for good prices on cheap meat. Just different. Together, they represent balance, something everyone seeks. Separate they are in opposition like two fast food knights.
After months of thinking my mom and I are so different, I've come to understand that no one is so different. Especially your family. Were at a place in our first-world living where my mom and I both have a lot to learn from each other. She can tell me tales of a life before screens, which is like a good fireside chat. She reminds me that she's still impressed with Gouda cheese because for 7/8 of her life, it was one of the best cheeses you could get at the supermarket. She is obsessed with cars because in her life, it was a sign of power and freedom and an american-made product to be (mostly) proud of, and not a dark mark of our addiction to oil. There's no wonder why she get's so riled up about snow storms, having witnessed the way it is covered on the news here in Northern Virginia (as if knives are going to rain down, instead of soft froze flakes of precipitation). I could go on. I have a list.
Most importantly, unlike anyone else I talk to, my mom has never said the words "you already asked me that" or "you said that already." Which is wonderfully patient and kind (and also because she is so incredibly guilty on both counts it would be blood boiling to hear). But for all her flubber-like energy, she is slower at taking things in. I tend to gloss over huge aspects of the world in my (also frantic) search for "what should I be doing" that I tell myself not to do and then do every day. If you hold our two lives up side by side, you'd have to say, they're just different peas in a pod. Delicious Topscher peas. And focusing on our differences (She's slightly greener, I'm slightly plumper, and more attractive to caterpillars) keeps us from the intense presence that love can bring. Which washes away so much dirt.
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