Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Month 22

For those readers new to this blog, I write about a great many things but not very often (right now), but one thing that I write about every month on the 26th is my son.  He was born on December 26, 2010, and so he is now twenty two months old.  Except today is the 31st.  So I'm late.  Again.

On the actual day, the Chattanooga Zoo had a pre-Halloween event called "Boo in the Zoo", where you could bring your kids out in their costumes and walk around looking at the animals and the other kids in their costumes.

It was a lot of fun and maybe a little overwhelming but totally worth it.

Son, this 22nd month ended up being a pretty big in the course of our family's direction.  In some ways this shift had nothing to do with you, but from a different perspective it had everything to do with you.  The very short version of the story is that I made a decision this month to attempt a change in career.  After a lot of consideration, your mom and I decided that we both want to spend more and higher quality time together as a family.

I have more to say, about your development and about the changes in my career, but I'll save that for another day.  For now, know that you are my favorite little fireman in the world, and that you have an incredibly talented and crafty mama too!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3 things


That is all.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

the wonder wanders

Hit play and let this be the soundtrack for this morning's post:

[i would prefer a live action video, but I didn't see any suitable PS originals, and the cover versions on youtube for this song seem...not great?]

There is a heavy fog in the Tennessee valley this morning, and when my little boy looked out the window to see the school bus hurtling by, and then later the trash truck doing its duties, he watched and reacted as he always does.  There was no concerned glance at dad, as if to communicate "why is the outside so fuzzy and white this morning?"  No, he just accepted this novelty (in his experience); he just took it in and rolled with it.

When do we lose that?  The phrase "childlike wonder" or "innocence" or similar have risen to the level of cliche, but of course their commonality derives from the fact that kids are more open.

Is it possible to extend that state a bit later in life than is typical for children in the US?  And would that be healthy or beneficial or wise?  Are adult attempts to rekindle that sense of wonder in their own lives appropriate, and is it even possible do regain that state, or are those childlike moments really just a quasi successful short term delusion?

Watching my boy engage with the world is fun, and it does in some ways give me a little wormhole window back into the child's eye perspective, but I also recognize the danger in allowing nostalgia to put a Instagrammed [ed note. too au courant] romanticized, sepia toned overlay on my actual experiences as a kid.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No Parking

We (people) impose order on our environments.  We build dams and levies to reign in our rivers, we carve roads through forests and through mountains of stone, we breed dogs to be friendly and corn to be productive.  Where many of us come together, we lay down laws and put up signs in pursuit of delineating those things that shall be allowed and those that shall not.

Some rules seem somewhat arbitrary on the surface (you may park your car along the street in precisely this spot on these specific days at these few particular hours), but generally derive from some sensible premise (the street cleaning truck cannot clean the street if your car is in the way).  Rules are designed by society to improve on the experience of society; rules and their design are what enable society in the first place.

Where things get complicated, though, in my opinion, is when people expect rules where there are none.

Since we operate almost exclusively within systems and constraints that we ourselves designed, it can be jarring to take a perspective step back and realize that just outside the cone of electric light there are some dark and complicated shadows.

For instance, biology requires that we mate and raise little versions of ourselves to perpetuate the species.  And that's it, the entire evolutionary rule book is that short: make more humans.  There is no naturally provided guidance about whether your kid(s) should go to pre-school or daycare, whether you should let them see you cry, whether you should put their college funding ahead of your retirement savings...  That's not to say that we haven't learned some tips and tricks to optimize "successful outcomes", but it does suggest that the very term "successful outcome" can have widely varying meanings around the world.  And so the rule remains, either individually or in aggregate: make more humans.

I've come to see humans as techno- or systemo-cratic creatures.  We respond well to a "do this and then that will happen" approach, but the actual experience of living in the real world very often turns out to be highly random or variable.  A spouse can internalize all of the best advice about how to be a good spouse and still find themselves divorced.  A parent can navigate the narrow and twisty path of giving enough but not too much attention to their kids and still end up with a "problem child".  A student can study hard, keep their nose clean, hit all their marks, and still fail to find a good job.  If there are actual "rules" to the game of life, they are designed for the statistical mean experience, not for individual data points.

Religious and secular philosophies attempt to glean a set of rules for the human existence from the natural and physical laws we can observe, and/or the "perfect standard" we can imagine, but again those systems seem to address the aggregate experience of the group and not a given individual.

I am feeling that the upshot is that in the case of an individual, rules are not rules but guides, because for an individual there is no guarantee that following rule X (or step, or process, or system) will produce result Y.  Maybe because NTTATS.

I'll think on this a little more, but the general sentiment above came out of a relatively brief conversation I had with my wife and life partner last night, and I wanted to capture the gist of that for further reflection.