Questioning Attitude

Dear J-

One of those years — I had a inspiration of some sort — I bought books for everyone at Christmas. After my last final I headed over to the cluster of used book shops on Telegraph Avenue and went around, picked up the books and spent the rest of the night custom-fitting boxes and getting them ready to mail in the morning. I ended up with a lot of what I thought were appropriate books but I dunno: were my cousins horrified to receive used books? Or were their parents, my uncles and aunts? I haven’t been so generous for years, nor so involved with their lives, which may or may not be a relief for them. theVet handles much of the family correspondence, as (it seems) I keep getting lazier after work, lazier and lazier.

The simple responses to this are manifold; if only I could. Or if therefore yes. What has happened in the past twenty years? we’ve all grown up, haven’t we? Perhaps as they say the head (and ego) has grown bigger at the expense of the heart, who had to grow up after all, are we all lost boys playing in the parks? Yes, quite. I can’t tell if I’ve grown up or if I’m just still relying on the goodwill of my parents here, day after day after day. When do you start saving money? When have you saved enough? Are we doing the right thing? How will we know? It probably works this way, I’m sure: if you’re still borrowing money you’re probably doing it wrong. You first live within your means then start worrying about the kindness of friends and family.

There’s a lot to be said for how awfully nice everyone’s been, but still I can’t help but feel like the same kid who whined and whined until finally they broke out some random wrapped toy in the basement just to keep me quiet for a few hours. I get home and the stories I hear … and the actions I see … make me wonder if this is the sort of thing that keeps getting passed down from generation to generation, or if it’s some uniquely American entitlement that makes me gag even as I can’t say no. Where do you break that cycle? How do you draw a line? I keep hoping the kids will be all right but I need to do something to make it so, don’t I?

Mike

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