The last time I was in Atlanta, my grand nephew was a junior at the University of Georgia, majoring in Broadcast Journalism. He graduated just before I returned. Next week, he leaves for Denver on his first job assignment. He found an apartment and is ready to move in, just like a grownup.
His dad will help him on the overnight drive from Atlanta and his mom will fly over just to see that he has not overlooked the essentials. That’s what moms and dads do.
I imagine they are again feeling the anxiety that attacks when a chick leaves the nest. At the same time as they burst with pride and can’t wait to tell all creation how their son is now on his own. There are tears that must remain unshed, except, perhaps, in the solitude of their now very quiet home.
As I watch them prepare for the big move, I wonder, what are the wise words one can say to a young man at this stage of his life? Are the things he learned at your knee still fresh in his mind? Did your counsel serve him well?
Are there any nuggets of wisdom that remain unspoken?
College is done. There is no more allowance from mom and dad. He will start “earning a living.” He will soon have to choose between the fun of a movie and burgers and the price of a full tank of gas. Will he have enough? The dad suggests a budget.
Mom worries. Will he eat properly? Junk food is abundant and affordable. Will he miss home-cooked meals? It is cold in Denver. Will he be warm enough? She packs another comforter. I am willing to bet she would move to Denver in a heartbeat.
And my sister quietly stashes more English pastilles in a goody bag as she prays for her second grandson, now all of an adult at age 22.
The scenario is familiar. I feel the helplessness of the parents as they slowly realize that there is someone else now at the helm of this ship that is about to sail. They must turn over the wheel to a young man whose excitement spills over, whose confidence overwhelms, and whose hand is no longer theirs to hold.
I advise the parents not to fret. The seas are not as uncharted as they seem. This young man has sailed them every day, in his imagination. He may have to rough it, but it is his time to conquer the waves and make his dreams a reality.
And even while the scene unfolds, a grandniece, her husband and their two-year-old son have left Georgia to settle in Florida. And her mother wonders why and worries. She too would like to pack her bags and move along with them, but she knows she must watch them go, wish them well and bravely wave goodbye.
Someone once said, “It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.”
Truly, all the older folks can do is whisper a prayer. Why beset them with phantoms of problems that may never even happen?
Weren’t we all, once upon a time, hell-bent on the path we had chosen and certain that no one knew better than we did? Nothing and no one could dampen our spirits. Nothing and no one better not even try.
It has not changed. The drama continues. And the older generation has to step aside and watch as the young ones go and make their own way. It is difficult. Often painful. But there is really no choice.
Seeds of our future
I remember reading from the Native American Code of Ethics. To the parents, it says:
“Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life’s lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.”
And it instructs the children: “Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”
The other day I read about a chunk of ice the size of the state of Delaware that is breaking away from Antartica and is ready to fall into the sea.
I must admit that all this talk about global warming and climate change is difficult to understand. The minute the subject comes up, something in my mind seems to shut off.
The next day, the headlines carried news about the U.S. breaking away from the Paris Climate Agreement. The arguments are never-ending. Was it a mistake to pull out?
I read someone’s post online.
It is an Old Cree Indian Proverb.
“Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we can’t eat money.”