I have tried to write this blog post for a week now and I’ve been met with silence. Not because I have nothing to say. Not because I haven’t tried (first long eloquent draft disappeared into the ether of the Internet). And not because I don’t want to. Partially – it’s that I’m living my life and doing my work and when a brilliant idea pops into my head, I am driving miles and not daring enough to write it while the road disappears under me.
I have had moments with my children worth mentioning but then those morph into the next experience and the feelings are gone. It’s always like that. Writers have to put their thoughts and nuances to paper immediately when they occur or they somehow diminish.
I began this blog a week ago by writing about Galt Niederhoffer’s excellent essay, “Reversal of Fortune,” in this month’s Vogue. She wrote about her millionaire father who lost everything twice – a daughter of a self-made man inherits a mixed blessing: she is cushioned by the luxuries her father has earned yet lacks the hunger that shortage inspires. Our nation of immigrants abounds with examples of hard work rewarded. But what happens to the next generation?
It’s true there is little work ethic among today’s youth. I dare say it may even be true for my generation. A sense of I-deserve-this without the incumbent I-must-earn-my-keep. God knows I work hard – and I don’t mind it, it’s what one does to get ahead. Our nation was built on the dreams and beliefs of wanderers who just knew they could do better than they had ever imagined. My father’s beloved scrap industry was built out of Jews collecting junk from garbage bins more than a century ago – because they were not allowed to trade precious metals in dignified offices.
Who’s laughing now?
Every conversation these days is peppered with the assertion that spending habits have changed forever, that this recession will, moving forward, alter the landscape of consumer behavior. A friend last week lamented that, being out of work, he cannot afford the designer clothing his teenagers demand. I told him maybe it was time they learned that there are limits. He disagreed.
Galt writes: For anyone who has lived through boom and bust times, one thing is abundantly clear: money is fleeting. It is a hollow symbol…
We can look for the opportunities created by loss – and pursue them with passion. In loss lies opportuntiy for reinvention. As a mother, I realized it may be the most important thing I can teach my children.
My boys are sitting on the couch in their pajamas watching cartoons. My daughter is asleep upstairs in my bed. The morning has arrived in streams of sunlight along the lawn and birdsong outside our open windows. It is beautiful and brisk and promising warmth and sunlight and exquisite fresh air all day. No rain in the forecast. No storms. No extreme humidity. Nothing but perfection.
We are traveling to Canada today, to walk the boardwalk at Point Pelee, to watch the birds, to chase the butterflies, to mutter over marsh grasses and weeds that look like flowers. I am certain that my 3-year-old at some point will whine to be carried and I’m sure someone will kick dirt in someone’s eyes. And I am certain it will be an absolutely exquisite day.