Friday, February 6, 2009

Something good and joyous happened this week

I got two pieces of good news in the past two days that just made my heart sing. They had nothing to do with "career" or employment or anything remotely resembling anything stable or legit and everything to do with living and loving life.

And that they both came from my two daughters, put me in heaven.

Yesterday I wrote my youngest a message on Facebook wondering if for some crazy reason she had Monday off. High school kids nowadays have so many days off, odds were in my favor that she might. And if she didn't, I wondered if maybe we couldn't do a snow dance to work up a snow day.

The reason was, on Sunday night, Sarah Lee Guthrie, granddaughter of Woody and youngest of Arlo, will be playing at Club Passim, and I thought it would be good for her to see Guthrie play. And it wasn't because she wanted to get out of school that Kathryn said she'd like to go. She's a smart, curious kid whose sole reason on earth seems to be to enjoy life. A night out in Cambridge, even with her old man, who I think she still gets quite a kick out of, was simply the better educational choice than high school...well, high school anything, really.

One of many pieces of guilt I constantly carry around with me for leaving the kids' mom the way I did was that it drove a huge wedge between me and my kids. Allison has said a few times now that one of the things that she missed about not having me around was how I always played music--all kinds of music from rock to show tunes to concert. Music is, I think, one of the most important gifts we have on the planet. We don't fully understand how it affects us. (I just heard the other day that some people see colors when they listen to music; how cool is that?) But kids need to be taught it. Otherwise, they're just subject to the whims and pressures of the culture, or what passes of culture. I hate that I wasn't more of an influence to them. And maybe that's why I'm so stoked about Kathryn wanting to see Guthrie. Maybe something of me really did rub off.

I never wanted my kids to grow up straight-laced. I didn't want them wild, either. I wanted them to grow up, experience life, make mistakes, learn from the mistakes, and keep growing and enjoying life. I wanted them to grow up, mature, and be able to stand up for themselves in this life. Make choices and responsible decisions like Kathryn did. I told them both, we all know where drinking and drugs will take us. Go out and make new mistakes. Probably not the most mature and maybe not the most responsible advice for a parent to give, but I think you, and they, got the point.

Then today I was IMing with Allison, who just arrived in Venice. She and some friends have a break from school in Granada and are just sort of bumming around northern Italy. I did something like that when I was about 17, just working for awhile and saving my money and then backpacking through Europe and part of Turkey for three months. And to this day I remember the freedom and the joy of learning and meeting new people and seeing and experiencing new sights. Life should always be that way. And I read Allison's messaging, saying she wants a life on the road (are you reading this Sue?) and me telling her I always did want to travel and she said I should and I said maybe I will. Both my kid tell me I should go back to photography.

My little girl has grown up into a traveler, something to my way of thinking couldn't be more noble. A traveler. Not a tourist, but a traveler, someone who loves the freedom of moving about on this earth and being a citizen of the earth, not some member of some arbitrary geopolitical nonsense.

I think on Monday I wrote on my Twitter status line that I wondered what the week would bring. This week had its moments. So you just ride it all out, and if you find yourself going through hell just keep moving and the devil might not even notice you're there (yes, that's a line from a country song.) And then when something good and joyful comes along, you just grab it and let it take you soaring in the clouds.

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