Saturday, July 29, 2006

22 Months

My little boy is easily influenced as he pushes himself toward growing and learning and consuming (as are we all). He will be guided by the world around him and it will have an effect on his human nature. What I am writing at the moment is heavily influenced by conversations I've recently had with Xtina and by a movie (which is a little ironic considering the content) that I watched last night, which brings me to what I want to talk about.

One of the things that he is becoming more and more interested in is the teevee. A couple of weeks ago we had a difficult time putting him into bed for the night, but when we finally accomplished the task we were relieved because in the living room, waiting and beckoning, was a fresh episode of Deadwood. So, after about twenty minutes into our historical fiction of blood, money and yes, influence, a little man with eyes that struggled to open as they were exposed to artificial light shuffles out of the gloom. In our heightened state of devouring the fictional lives of those characters of misfortune we didn't notice our precious one before us until he realized what we were doing. He quickly plopped himself between us on the sofa and settled into viewing mode (thankfully he doesn't know the word popcorn yet).

Now, I'm fairly open-minded about limiting the restrictions we place upon Lucas' impressionable mind but one of the things we don't want him to become obsessed about is that damn black yawning mouth of entertainment that waits to be filled with dancing visions and dreams that always run on perfectly allotted time, and he sure as hell wasn't going to be watching Deadwood (seeing as how impressionable he is). So, for the next hour we were bludgeon by the horrible cries of a child deprived. In that hour we must have put him into bed five or six times before he even thought about closing his eyes again. He couldn't understand why he wasn't allowed to watch teevee with us. Our eager anticipation of consumption had spread to his small frame and then we denied him. It was quite traumatic.

We turn the teevee on quite a bit but not nearly as much as many of our neighbors. We don't have cable or satellite or even something as primitive as an antennae but we do like good film. It's an art form that still catches our conscious. Lucas is beginning to understand that about us and has suddenly started to demand that we turn the infernal device on more and more. What I'm mostly worried about is that our rejection that night has fueled the curiosity fire in his belly. I firmly believe that the things that are denied us affect us greatly. Why shouldn't I be allowed to indulge myself? Who has the right to tell me no? I suppose it's a natural function of our growth, which is why it works so well in advertising.

These are the aspects of our society that I wish would have the least amount of influence upon him but it's already seeping in at the seams. We don't have that many DVDs lying around to pop in when he says, “On!” excitedly, while pointing at the lifeless sucking void. All that we have currently is a Baby Genius collection, which incorporate classical music with natural visions of the animals, the ocean, fields of flowers and anything else majestic that can be captured in the world around us. This wouldn't be so bad except for the annoying animation they dump on top of everything. The animated aspect of the DVD is simply the Baby Genius' way of reminding you that you are watching their product. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF BEING REMINDED THAT I AM CONSUMING WHAT YOU WISH FOR ME TO CONSUME! I don't want to know. I simply want my child to watch something artistic that might help him tap into his creativity. That's the only reason I turn the damn thing on!

Which brings me back to how and why we are so susceptible to certain agendas. Noam Chomsky reminded me exactly why I've always felt a revulsion to obvious forms of influential media, fashion and commercial accessories but it goes much deeper than we always think it does. I personally still have enormous mountains to climb when it comes to overcoming the way I've been influenced, but we have so much fortune because we have the ability to guide the influence that will be imparted upon our son. No matter how much we fail, the next generation will become more advanced than us. It could become more advanced in science or more developed in thought and speech. It might become more advanced in the way that it influences those around them either physically or psychologically. The advancement may happen in the arts and culture or in the socio-economic atmosphere. It may come in the advancement of compassion and sustainability or the development of the destructive forces that exist upon this earth. But it will come. They will learn everything that we know and then move forward with that knowledge and influence and begin to create in some form or another.

What do I want my child to create? How can I help him achieve it? How do I influence him? These are the questions that parents need to ask themselves when they try to imagine what the future will hold for them and their families. For starters I'm throwing out those damn DVDs and getting something that encourages him to tap into his creativity rather than something that taps into his hunger to consume.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"We are manifestations of a greater entity, energizing in various temporal locations."


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Twenty-One Months

We went to El Paso for Xtina's family reunion with a stop-over in Phoenix, Arizona. We barely had time to yawn and pop our ears before we were suddenly landing again. I didn't mind it. I've grown to fear flying. It's not so easy to give up your life to the unknown mechanical god when you have people in your life that you truly cherish. When I was younger I laughed when the pilot bounced twice on the landing in San Diego, now my heart freezes for a second every time the plane shudders to earth. For a long time I didn't care about my life. It hardly seemed worth it when you're so miserable. What was it that could have possibly cause so much resentment? I'm still trying to figure that out. But when you have the heart of a child beat against your chest as the rise of flight leaves your chi behind and his eyes fill with wonder as the landscape slips away into miniature toy mode, you can't help but squeeze him a little tighter and pray to whatever force that causes universal flow to allow these two chests to continue going in and out together.

Just a little more time, please.

Although this was not Lucas' first time in a plane, it was the first time that he was aware of this incredible astonishment of the 20th century. Yes, my little man, no matter what you may have already known before entering this life, humanity has pushed beyond the clouds. We've hardly learned what it means to respect each other but the quest for flight is beyond a century behind us now. Let's hope that we can continue to advance in many, many wonderful ways. Well, because Lucas is now a little man he was mesmerized by this amazing feat. He stared wide-eyed out our tiny window until we'd almost reached the desert (and the descent as well) and, I have to admit, his curiosity was catching. I remembered what it felt like to see the world so small before. The kid in me swelled and jumped out of my skin.

The Earth is a majestic place. You really notice it up there. I always laugh trying to imagine myself inside a plane when I look up from the ground. There can't be people in there! How do they get so small? The same thing happens when you're up there and you look down at all the cars and houses and mountains and trees. Everything's so ant-like. The cars even zoom along their twisted trail, people doing their ant-like activity; foraging, going to work, trying to make it home alive so that they may rest and do it all over again. But as the plane began to ascend over the rural landscape and human activity started to vanish I began to see it! The mask was slowly removed. The earth is truly organic. It's a natural amalgamative of time and influence and ripening and nowhere does it travel a straight line...except all the places inhabited by humans.

I was shocked by what I saw! All the structures of civilization were completely in discord with the soul of the Earth. We do not understand what it means to be connected to the environment around us. We have torn it apart and created our own misery! We have gouged out straight edges and rigid boxes and put our alien landscape atop the natural order of this world! We have cut it up and dug it out and smooshed it flat and paved over all of it! We are the cancer! We are destroying this planet!

From high above the Earth I heard it whimper.

It was frightening. It's disconcerting to find out that you've lived your entire life in exact opposition to nature. I never realized or maybe that's all I've ever realized (which one is more empowering?). Is it possible to be ignorant of something so deeply profound and still be happy? I'm not sure. I know there are quite a few people out there who aren't happy. I know that sometimes I am one of them. I know that when I think about all the ways our societies work against the natural beauty of life, it never makes me feel good. I know that when I saw the human influence upon the face of this world, it made my heart turn in disgust. It made me despise myself a bit more.

But I had his heart upon mine, and he saw all the beauty and ugliness drifting below us too and it was mesmerizing. I felt what it meant to be young again, so small and so hopeful and I found a place in my soul that opened and wished only to make a better life for him. I don't exactly know how to overcome the horrible oddity that has become humanity. Part of me wants to run, sell everything and buy a plot somewhere, build a natural habitat where we can live off the land and become one with the environment. Maybe we'll do that some day and maybe Lucas will hate it, but I will influence him to appreciate the Earth. As he grows I'll do whatever I can to show him the beauty that exists everywhere. You just have to peel back the mask a little.

Lucas already has so much fortune, but we still need to challenge ourselves to become better human beings. One of the ways that we need to do that is by respecting our environment, starting right where we are...even if it is paved over.

Labels: , ,