Natalie and I recently watched the movie Everyday People. In it there is a scene in which a young man about to enter college, who is estranged from his father, is in a restaurant speaking to an older man who has been estranged from his own children for most of their lives. The young man asserts that if he becomes a parent he’ll be sure to do it better than his father did with him. And the other man replies, “We all want to do better than our fathers did.”
That hit me in a particular way that I am not sure I want to try and name just yet.
The sentiment and the emotions I had absorbing it in the expanse of a minute harmonized with some reading I’ve been doing. One author I was scanning the other night was belaboring the point that dysfunction has become so prevalent in families (and individuals) that general dysfunction is considered “the norm”. That is, we are coming to expect that all families and pretty much all people are — well, broken — in some fashion or another. Or as some might prefer: we’ve all got our own stuff. No kidding, right?
Consider for a moment, though, that this means we have made a cultural currency of being f*ed up by our own youth and the parenting we endured.
I put that together with thoughts I have about my parents and what they endured as kids, and with what I remember of my childhood, and with the things I see my kids enduring. I mix that with thoughts about how one generation sees another’s choices; and about how my parents’ generation said the world would be, and what I am saying to my children. I throw in general incredulity over the way humans are conducting themselves everywhere; and color all of it with my own personal state of mind at present; and we have a cocktail of grand emotive opportunity.
If I were asked to name the feeling that has come lurching out from all of that thinking, it would be easy. Sad. I am sad for us, people.
We are just bumbling along, aren’t we? Fraught with the paradox of ourselves. Guided by distant voices. Led by blurry lights at the ends of fuzzy tunnels. And we are all carrying our own bruises from our travels. And all making our way as well as we … (can?) … are.
And yet, we are also all holding ourselves up to that light — no matter how fuzzy and distant it seems. We are all striving. All looking to be considered. All seeking moments in which to share love. All moving toward lives that sing.
And no matter where we are along our own ways, we are in the right place to be thankful for how far we’ve come. And hopeful for what is yet to come.
So I am giving myself some empathy for my own feelings about where humanity is with itself. And I am giving thanks for how far we’ve come and how far we might go from here.
I am also sending out thoughts of compassion and hope for families and humans I know, struggling to grow themselves. Living life as they know it. Pushing with all that they are to be something more.
Here’s to all of us everyday people. Stumbling and striving, and making our own ways. Not the subject of someone else’s story, but the only subject in our own. Each of us is worthy of being our own heroes. And each of us is worthy of going just a little bit further.
Right now, at this moment, I am cheering us on.
And I can’t wait to see what we do next.