My Parent-brain and endless possibilities

I saw something beyond infuriating, and for the first time, 2 possible instinctive reactions came to mind at almost the exact same time.  The first was if I was witnessing this infuriating thing being performed by people my own age, and the second was how I might’ve reacted if I was a parent who was witnessing the same event being performed by people considerably younger than I.
The first was an impulsive outburst of carnal intensity; violent and spontaneous, explosive with no remorse.  But the second was a slow breeze of impending despair, knowing that this course of action would fester, and cause the depths of my soul to ache. I didn’t like thinking about this course of action  I would be forced to consider as a parent, because of how damaging the punishment would be in the long run to the whole family. But the fact that I had thought about it  for that brief moment was a new sensation all together.
My ‘parent brain’ switched on for a moment.

Throughout my childhood, I’ve heard the phrase, “you’ll understand when you’re older”. I’ve also heard that “parenting is more difficult than you think”, but I mostly hear that from people who’ve never picked up a parenting book, or bothered to scientifically study ‘adolescence’.  So duh, of course it’s easy to devalue children when you basically don’t believe that they’re real people with independent thoughts.

As a unmarried adult with no children, I’ve come to realize that most people like babies, but not everyone likes children. Possibly because of how crazy-protective our culture is about strangers interacting with their young, so that no one has the opportunity to interact with children before they themselves have children. Causing generations of people to walk into the occupation of ‘parenting’ totally blind to the issues.
But of course, children are people, and they’ll be full-grown adults in less than 20 years, so parents need to be open to the endless possibilities of things that children might be interested in.
There are no ‘perfect people’ in the world, so parents need to be open to the very real possibilities that their children will have problems.
My own mom was a serious woman, and  treated child-rearing like every other chore. She hurried her children into adulthood with as little fuss as possible, and grew irritated and disappointed when she discovered that her adult-children were nothing like her. Her ‘parent brain’ has never worked properly, as she was never willing to accept the possibility her children are real autonomous individuals that she can’t control.

Birth Lottery of Ideal Locations

If you image that people are plants, and the spot that they are grown is representative of how their lives will be, it becomes easier to accept that some things just don’t work out the way you want. Not all plants can thrive in certain climates. Not all plants are grown in ideal locations. Some can’t handle certain weather. Or certain moistures. Or certain temperatures.
Sometimes the plants get the most ideal location, and they grow strong. Sometimes they don’t. So, insisting that every sprout is equal and has equal chance to flourish is a lie.
Some plants just don’t make it. Some plants have all the best resources available to them to encourage their growth. Others face decades of hardship and never quite reach their full potential.
The adage that ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’, is also a lie. Since no one is able to be a different type of plant, we must all live the type of life that that is obtainable for us specifically.

By chance I was born here, meaning that in the birth lottery I was placed here, in this location, in this demographic, and in this socio-economic group. It’s difficult to change from your starting location. Not impossible, but difficult.
Peoples birth situations are precisely coincidental. Wealth or poverty, influence or exile, excellence or ignorance. Life is unexpected, and not all situations will work in our favor.
Sometimes learning to ‘accept that things are beyond our control’, is the best advice for handling life’s many inconveniences. But people mostly say that because, it’s easier than trying to uproot to attempt once more elsewhere. Weathering the conditions is a personal choice that many people feel is obligatory, because the unknown circumstances in a different place are perhaps worse.

‘Change’ is scary because of the possibility of hardship. But most things in life are hard, so it just depends on how well a person handles their specific hardships. Most difficulties aren’t life-or-death, and most likely resemble a big mess of odds-and-ends flung at us, that maybe we survive and grow beyond.

Summer Garden Project

As an adult, I find myself looking for lengthy projects to occupy my time. Self-improvement is never-ending, but I’m just looking for something to focus on for 4-5 months.  When I was a teen, I thought that adult projects were typically household tasks. Some kind of maintenance or construction. But I am not a homeowner, so I find myself seeking some kind of new hobby, but assigning it a definitive goal [as if it were a task] so I can keep track of my milestones.
– This desire to keep track of my personal endeavors is new thing that I’ve started craving in recent years.   I’m not sure if this need is part of the new Age of Social Media , but it seems that the desire to have tangible and shareable details negates the ‘actual success’ of our personal endeavors.
Somehow sharing the photos from an event, is more important that enjoying the actual event. As if it was only worth doing IF I could post about it. It occurred to me that in the Age of Social Media, shareable things are more valuable than isolated things, so I would only be satisfied with my project if I was able to share it.

I’m rather proud of my summer garden. So far I’ve grown a crop of green beans, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes. I also have high hopes for my pumpkins, watermelons, and squash. I also planted some corn, but I think I wanted it more as autumn decoration, and less as food. I’ve had fruit trees for years, but this is the first time I’ve tried growing seasonal plants. From what I understand, all of those vine plants will not make it through winter, and will need to be re-sprouted every spring. It feels good to garden. Watching plants grow provides a reference of what ‘natural speed’ is, juxtaposed against the artificial urgency of the modern world.  It takes weeks and months to grow things; it’s far from instant. Natural environments requires gardeners to be patient and plan ahead. People in the modern world who expect instant fulfillment would benefit from partaking in the lengthy seasonal growing process. Literally stopping to smell the roses makes time appear to move slower, and mentally easier to deal with.

This week, I have pumpkin flowers. And I am weirdly excited about them. I had little sprouts in March, and now have flowers. No doubt in another 2 months, I’ll start commenting on the size and color of my pumpkin harvest.

Illness changes a person

There’s something weird that happens to your sense of self when you’ve been sick for a long time. All the words I would choose to describe myself  seem to have changed. I know that this illness is not me, but it’s been with me for so long that it’s all I see when I look at myself. It’s not a temporary state of being any longer, it’s who I am; I am ill.

It takes all my energy, it takes my time, my health, my personality. I am not available to be myself, because I am ill. It changes my eating habits, my sleeping habits, my posture, the sound of my voice. I am no longer creative, or organized, or confident, because I am ill.  I am weak, and tired, and in constant pain.

Illness has a way of making you forget to be yourself. It hurts too much to do the things I would habitually do. I move slower than I used to, assessing each motion, conserving my energy. My new physical  limitations trick my brain into thinking that these boundaries are normal. The things I used to enjoy are unbearable now. I can’t go out, and I don’t have the capacity for any leisure activity.
Illness changes how I think of myself. The pain has a way of making me forget, distracting me from my own thoughts. It’s a struggle to cook and clean for myself. I can’t remember how it was before. I can’t remember the last time I experienced joy, and it’s difficult to predict  if I ever will again.
Illness prevents me from being optimistic about it. I am hardly a person, I am ill, and I’m just trying to get through the day.

Marginalizing the Average American

Desk jobs are great for angry-antisocial people. – Are you well suited for desk work?
I work in an office with a 1950s attitude. All the upper-management executives are American white males. There are some immigrants working here, but there are no Latins or Blacks working at this company. The main floor of this building has no windows, which is basically every department except for the sales office. It looks remarkably like the television show The Office, if it were operated in a dystopian-style by communist enthusiasts. This office doesn’t value their employees, literally denying its workers rank and significance for years on end.

With the current political climate, I’ve recently concluded that the American Millennials are in a type of Depression. Not as life-and-death as the Great Depression of the 1930s, but every bit as detrimental to the growth and progress of a generation. Things didn’t really improve after the 2008 economy flop, things just evolved into a different shape. More primitive, less compassionate, more hostile, less forward-thinking. Millennials have had slow progress in trying to achieve the same milestones as previous generations. Housing costs have skyrocketed, along with personal debts, but average incomes have decreased. The middle-class jobs of yesterday have become the lower-class jobs of today. Even educated people are having difficulty finding jobs which will adequately provide for a family. It’s depressing.

American government stopped caring about the common man. They stopped caring about the environment, and retirees, and quality education, and affordable health care.  Our social infrastructure has taken a turn. Marginalizing the average American, favoring corporations and the hyper wealthy. The office where I work is just 1 building, but the executives who own and operate it are the same sort of people who run this country. They make decisions that increase their productivity at the expense of their workers.  Creating an ever widening rift of cynicism between the working-class and the aristocrats who rule over them.

Driving Force

When I was a young-teen, I had the idea that I would grow up, get married, have a family, live in a house, and have a job. This idea was engrained, anticipated, and unavoidable. Everyone told me this was the way it had to be, so I was prepared to take all the necessary steps to make it happen. I compromised, gave in, and cooperated.
More than a decade later, and after a few failed attempts, it crossed my mind that I’ve sacrificed a lot for this vision of a conventional life.  I’ve been chasing a fantasy that’s not going to happen for me [or thousands of other Millennials], and I don’t want to be punished for not living up to these old-fashioned standards.

My brother got married last month. Ever since his girlfriend proposed to him last year, he has been slowly working himself into a more submissive/complacent attitude. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. He simply agreed with her when she decided how the 2 of them were going to live, where they were going to live, and how many children they were going to have.
She didn’t strike me as a ‘driving force’, but she seems to be doing a great job of steering their relationship along the conservative path.

Whereas, I’ve spent the last several months considering a possible future as an eccentric mountain hermit.  Now that I’m no longer committed to the idea of marriage and family, I’m free to exit the vehicle, and focus on solo endeavors.
Literally, the only thing that was keeping me conventionally-docile was the ‘inescapability’ of having to live the rest of my life in a predictable fashion.

One of my latest hobbies has been Tiny Houses. But in this state, I’d still have to buy a property to keep one [for the ‘permanent address’],  and because of the raising costs of healthcare, I’d still be forced to work 32-40 hours a week, even if I didn’t need the income.  So I’m practically back to square one; unable to break the cycle. It’s infuriating. The longer I think like this, the more agitated I get regarding  the state of things in this country, and how difficult they’ve made it to live in a different way from the conventional method.
America is hindering its own Progress. A whole generation of Americans have not made any social strides because of current socio-economic conditions, and they are straining to attain the basic luxuries of past generations. Millennials are a generation of constant stress, and anxiety based mental-disorders.
All of the Millennials have now joined the work force. But they will continue to live bachelors-lifestyles, because their college debts prevent them from saving enough money to conventionally settle down.

The Discomforts of Life, and Death

Culture is a strange thing. Seemingly arbitrary rules that we’ve all agreed to obey and live by. Most of us live everyday of our lives in general discomfort. Forced to live within the parameters of socially accepted normalcy. Not just for safety reasons, but also social expectations; 40-hr work week, predictable housing situations, technology dependence, marriage, family, taxes, debt. Obedience and conformity.
The peer pressure keeps us coordinated. Each age-group demographic  has different social expectations, and failing to meet those expectations exposes a person to social ridicule.
Children are expected to play nicely, and go to school. Adult men are expected to be good providers for their family, adult women are expected to bear children. Society would look unfavorably at a man who stays home with children, or a woman who had a career instead of a family, or a child who is poorly socialized.   Society’s micro aggressions makes life difficult for people to live outside the social norm.
So ‘live in it’ we must, or otherwise die.
‘Needless killing’ has long since been considered  evil, but our culture has repeatedly accepted ‘murder’.      Our justice system includes death penalties. Our law enforcers are known to use deadly force in the line of duty. Our military conflicts largely go without consequence. Our religions have long histories of torture and holy massacres. Our social culture applies ‘justice-violence’ /‘vigilante-vengeance’, yet somehow, suicide is frowned upon.
Demonstrating that our society wants us to live, but only if we’re obedient, and our culture is prepared to kill us if we disrupt the prevailing standards. It’s a fine-line. We are allowed to be individuals, but not behave individually. It’s like how gun ownership is considered an American right , but having one with you makes you a threat to society.

It’s comforting to know that living quietly and conventionally will not impact  society, and our culture will continue to change into a homogeneous mass. Clearing out the abnormal variations until conformity is absolute.
All the day to day complications we experience in life will not matter in the future, and will eventually fade away from everyone’s memory. I wish people would be more transparent about the predictable suffering that goes along with life, and the inevitability of death that we all must face.

Everyone Suffers From Something At Some Point

As Americanized as we get, I think maintaining some level of cultural connection is enormously important to a person’s self-identity.  Having genuine ethnic customs makes a person less susceptible to the trendy nonsense of the modern consumeristic age. And knowing the historical values and cultural traditions of your ancestors influences that types of philosophies you practice as an adult.
I’ve just read a New York Times bestseller book by Thanhhà Lại, called: Listen, Slowly. It’s a multicultural young-adult book about a Vietnamese-American tweenaged girl begrudgingly spending a summer in Vietnam. The book chronicles the inner thoughts of a 12 year old girl, as she experiences a rural village in a foreign country.

It incorporates several culturally conflicting  thoughts that I have personally experienced being an American child born of immigrants.  I’ve always been grateful for my multiethnic heritage because of the unique standpoints it gives me, and because the Americanized kids I grew up neighboring couldn’t decide what was truly important in life.  They were trendy, and wasteful, and they took a lot of things for granted.
Whereas the book observes that people in Vietnam behave differently, people are always together, everyone talks to everyone else, there are no secrets, there’s no privacy, No one complains, and there’s an inclination never to waste anything.   Something I enjoyed in the book was how gracefully people accepted the concept of ‘suffering’. “[Grandma] Bà says everyone suffers from something at some point”.
The comforts of the first-world have made us picky and inefficient. Spoiled incompetent children grow up and become spoiled incompetent parents.    I’ve always expected immigrant families to have stricter parenting techniques because of fewer contingency options available to them. The pressure to succeed is highest when the whole family is working together. “Co Den tay, Phai, Phat” Flag in hand, must wave it”. This enthusiasm to ‘do whatever you can’ is lost on Americanized youths, because their families merely expect them to ‘be children’, instead of ‘adults in training’.

Medieval Township

I can’t see a happy future in a consumeristic world, where we’ve sacrificed every form of quality for cost efficiency reasons. I think that I’d have a better life if I wasn’t living in a modern tech society.  A friend told me about her friend who’s a master sword fighter, and how he plans on opening a Medieval township park. This idea interested me.
After years of watching The Walking Dead, I had been mentally preparing for an apocalypse, not time travel. But let’s take a moment to think about the Medieval ages.
-Also known as the Middle ages, it’s the 1,000-year time period  between the fall of the Roman Empire and the start of the Renaissance [5th century – 15th century]. It had the Byzantine Empire, feudalism, kings, crusades, Christians, Vikings, Marco Polo, Gothic architecture, and the plague. It was a transitionary period, not prominently known for artwork [like the Romans or Renaissance], but it was important for the formation of the small government-lordship hierarchy. Somewhat Game of Thrones-y. With the lack of a unified Empire, people turned to newfangled beliefs to find law and order, so naturally, there were a lot of small group/religious conflicts.

The Middle Ages and The Walking Dead have a lot of the same themes involving conflict and struggle; both resemble the wild west, lawless and harsh, with no reliable infrastructure. I can see why a master sword fighter would be attracted to this macho time period, it was filled with combat and glory [and little else]. No science innovations can be made while war and crisis are always imminent.  Not exactly what I had in mind.

I was thinking a simpler life would be better for me. Something with more gardening and less packaging. I’ve seen buildings in Europe that are 1,000 years old and still beautiful, and houses here in America only 50 years old that are falling apart. Cost efficient, low quality housing, just another a consumer good, becoming more disposable every day. Maybe I should buy a plot of land and lease space to tiny house dwellers. Become a land lord, like the serf lords of the medieval ages.

Automation and Education

Automation is going to replace factory jobs. Low skill manufacturing work will soon go extinct. Just like the coal miner jobs went away after new technology was invented. Improving our educational system is more important than ever, now that there is no place in society for low-skill workers. Schools need to reintroduce trade-profession classes so that teens who are not college-bound have real career options.

Schools have been around forever, but it was only about 100 years ago that high school was No longer just a precursor to college. After 1910, vocation education was added to the high school curriculum as a mechanism to train the technicians/skilled workers for the industrial sector [following WW1]. By 1940, half of teens earned high school diplomas, learning essential skills for careers in white collar and high-paying blue collar jobs.
But the education ‘boom’ is followed by ‘the bust’, and after 50 years, this institutional method of education is no longer effective. Schools have fallen victim to bureaucratic budgetary disasters, and the educational quality has suffered. The last 20 years of public education has been ineffective as school resources lag behind the high-tech age of computers.
Educational cuts have left schools with bare minimum core academic courses. High school no longer teaches relevant technical skills for trade professions. Even blue collar factory jobs these days require moderate-advanced computer literacy.     Our modern culture expects everyone to go to college to learn those same essential skills that our grandparents learned in high school.
People like to say that younger generations NEED to get a higher education, but what they mean to say is that educational institutions are so weak that you need to have more of it to be just as competent as previous generations were with just a GED.

College looks impressive on paper, but it actually sinks generations of people into massive college-debts. [College prices have increased 400% since the 1970s]. This debt postpones other milestone events, like home purchases.
Two generations ago you didn’t even need a high school diploma to get a decent entry level job, but now most jobs require a college degree and several years’ experience. Which means that today’s high school diploma is worthless.  It would be more efficient to just send teens straight into junior college after their 10th grade exit exam. In the same 2 years, they could have an Associate’s degree and been better off than if they had just had a GED.