Monday, August 1, 2011

Legacy and Adulthood

Noman has been wanting to comment on a weekend conversation he took part in a couple of months back in the country home of an academic colleague.  In attendance were a number of 40ish-to-60ish-year-old academics (with spouses) including a superstar professor on his annual visit to Europe from his nose-bleed-elite institution in the US.  Somehow the conversation turned to the wonder of youth, and the natural desire to recapture it, in particular to being a teenager again.  The superstar initiated that he'd trade all of his best-selling business books, accolades and tenure to be nineteen again.  He reiterated it several times (especially the part about the best-selling books) in order to suggest the thrilling virility of his late-teen youth (unlikely), and to ignite the conversation.  His (second) wife playfully interjected that she was offended because he didn't know her then.  In saying it she coquettishly called attention to her newly-lifted, over-painted face.   Her "figure" was emaciated,  liposuctioned into submission and plasticized into form; her hair was tinted and starched to some semblance of "body."  She conceded that he had a point, however, and confessed that she would trade her plight as the pampered, jobless wife of a wealthy, famous and powerful man in a heartbeat just to be nineteen again. 

By the time the conversational compass pointed to Noman, it occurred to him that everyone who had chimed in agreement was either childless, or had one or two children long gone from the nest.  These were adults wanting to relive youth because in a crucial way, they were still living as children.  It was all about them, rather than others, just as it is for a nineteen, or nine-year-old.  (It needn't be said that these Americans were deeply convinced liberals of profound social conscience, incidentally with an equally profound distaste for religion.)  Noman, the father of eight no-children, all of them currently at home, truthfully commented that he wouldn't want to be 19, or any age, again.  He wanted to see how his children would turn out; what would become of them; what would they make of their lives; who would they love, and bring into the world; what would their contribution to life be?  These were just some of the questions that he wouldn't even know to ask had he not willingly surrendered his youth to love and procreation. 

From the birth of his first child while in law school, even before his first midnight trip on foot to the emergency pharmacy (the night before an exam) in order to find her needed medicine, Noman knew that it most definitely wasn't about him any longer.  It was about her, his little girl, and his wife who was counting on him to protect them both.  It was about his family, the one he formed in love and volitionally brought into existence with another person, his no-wife.  It made Noman more of a man, less of a child.  And, he's never wanted to go back.  This is what life is meant to be, which is something that children teach better than anyone or -thing is the world.  Despite the aches and pains of age, Noman wouldn't give this knowledge up if you paid him.

Noman won't preach about the importance of life, children and family--conceived of along procreative lines (no pun intended)--to personal development, and social reality.

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