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An Easter Digression
March 31, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
I asked for help in researching a couple of facts for Part 2 on “How Far Should Communities Go to Create Jobs?”
Now you need to know that I have a wife, 2 children now in college and a 13 year old.
I should have known that I was in trouble when all eyes pointed to my 13 year old as the best on-line “researcher.”
Knowing that a community business article would not excite my young teenager, I tried it to make it fun.
“Let’s record some music” I suggested. I thought this would be a safe exercise as amazingly these kids listen to my old rock-n-roll songs.
So I carefully laid out a plan on how we could record from a stack of old albums I had. Now just that feat of climbing through the attic, dodging boxes like someone from Seal Team Six, was enough to get the blood boiling. I then proceeded to carefully transcribe each particular song that I wanted as if I was recording the artifacts from King Solomon’s mines.
Down with the boxes of albums I came dusted by the invasive species of insulation that was causing places to itch that I did not know even existed. I could barely carry them and lost several times the holy scrolls of penmanship that listed the songs of my life.
Who Are You?
My 13 year old looked at his box-laden Dad like I was this misplaced Santa Claus waking up on the wrong holiday. You know that look; it was the same one we gave our parents when they got so excited about something that happened in their time - that we really tried - but could simply not relate to.
“Dad, what are those things?” he innocently asked.
He had no idea what an album was.
But worse than that he could not understand why I had taken the time to scribe massive notes like ancient biblical texts on what music to record. No, he looked at me as if I was some un-discovered relic from the primeval forest.
“Dad, you could have just told me what songs you wanted and I could have selected them on “Spotify” in seconds.”
Now it was my turn to look at him in disbelief. I realized that my own parents must have had that same sensation. You are hit with something so new and incomprehensible that you want to just shrug your shoulders and defiantly yell out “Yea, but it can’t be as good as the way we did it!”
I dropped the boxes in defeat and my plans for a fun afternoon in ruin. How was I going to make this a fun Dad and son thing now? Looking at my box of records I suddenly felt old and out of touch.
The Great Divide?
I realized that I had come to the great divide. And this was not the one that Lewis and Clark saw in amazement. This is the one where we question whether we are becoming out-of-date, if our ideas and philosophies are still relevant.
How could I relate to him now? Didn’t he know it was only my parents and grandpa’s that got old?
I looked down at my albums and saw them in a different light. They had suddenly become the antithesis of everything that was now.
My kids click and expect to see immediate results and waiting, even for seconds, no longer acceptable.
Anyone Else Out There?
Am I the only one that remembers:
• Buying whole “albums” just for 2 songs and then taking hours to get your selections on eight-tracks? And how cool were we when cassettes came along?!
• Surfing our version of Google: the encyclopedia?
• Being sent to “Siberia” (college) that had no phone and waiting for that letter from home?
• Speaking of waiting: going to the drug store to get your film processed – that would take a week?
• How about the “party” phone line where you shared the phone with others? When calling a girl’s house you not only had to talk to her father first but potentially the neighbors?
• Rotary phones? Oh yea, I think he saw that at a museum once.
• Writing entire pages, making one mistake and having to write them all over on a - typewriter?
• When winters were so cold our local TV station’s label was the “North Pole?”
Do we see our kids having the patience for any of this?!
I watched my son make a mockery of my long music list by recording 50 songs in less than a minute.
We Can Too!
“Yea, but we were faster in other ways” I muttered trying to hang on to any vestibules of dignity.
“Really, how so?” came the innocent reply.
“Well, ah…” I stammered and then started randomly spouting off:
“In my day we were faster in getting our coffee because it came in only one kind: black. We didn’t have to look over 13 different pots and then still ask for extra white caramel or cinnamon.”
“Or, or…” I was really reaching for it now, “We ordered our food quicker because menus were not filled with words and options where I thought I was at the UN. Or, such a big deal was made of calories I was wondering if I should have brought my doctor with me!”
I could tell by his look I was really digging a hole for myself so decided to come up with one last, big serve:
“And how about “surfing” the TV with my Dad, which took only 30 seconds” I said with an excited tirade that would have made John McEnroe envious.
“Really Dad?” my son suddenly interested in how we did THAT!
“That’s right!” I exclaimed, “Because you only had one channel in English and 2 in French to choose from! When day-time watching was the soaps and roller derby!”
Game, set, match – it was over.
I knew I had run past the “Dad, stop while you’re behind” sign before I had even started.
Needless to say we did not spend the day recording music.
A New Perspective?
But, we had fun: my son teaching me music recording technology and him learning a little about the issues facing our community. He even had some interesting ideas on how to help. I got the sense that our young teenage son was beginning to think this was his community too.
I realized that life was not what I had imagined of ever increasing growth as a person to some magic end. It was perhaps more about being adaptive and not afraid to admit what you don’t know. That sometimes you can learn from your kids and that is okay.
And not to worry about becoming out of style - it may be more about staying in touch with them.
Perhaps it is also about being open to connecting in new ways - with your family, customers - and community.
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