My daughter (who is in her mid-20’s) is living in Australia right now, half way around the world (more or less) from where I find myself living. She returns to the United States toward the end of the year. The excitement of looking forward to seeing her when she returns is intense; Skype let me hear her voice until someone stole her laptop, but I haven’t seen her face in months.
In life for me, in my mid-50’s, being close to my most loved family and friends, and living with a deep integrity of being, pursuing those interests and struggles which are most deeply ingrained in my values and aesthetic, are important. None of us know how much longer we’ll have to live, a day or a decade or more. We can’t make deals with our time.
I love my daughter unreservedly. I also love the struggle for working people to meet our human needs and end the exploitation and oppression, the mass human misery, central to capitalism as a system. I also find a very deep and satisfying expression of being and connection to others in writing.
The current global crises are forcing many people into shifting the paradigm through which we model our lives and our universes. This is a good thing; asking fundamental questions about our world and the challenges facing us as a society and individually, in connection, can lead to new and surprising places, and be very exciting and invigorating, leading to new activities and new friendships.
Sharing this process with my daughter is one of the most wonderful ways I can think of to provide her with a window into my thinking and my activities; who I am. It is also a legacy that I can give to her of principled growth, change in the face of new challenges. All of us face changing, shifting challenges over the course of our lives. If our responses to those challenges lead us to a more complete and integral, a more scientific understanding of ourselves and our shared universe then we are moving in the right direction. Happiness is a good guide, caring for others and rejection of cynicism and despair are important, and most of all a rejection of our own individual exceptionalism, understanding ourselves and our experiences as exemplar of the experience of millions, and learning to be forgiving and understanding of others because of that — all these I’ve found to be important to me.
When my mother, whom I loved tremendously and who gave me the gift of social activism and scientific outlook, passed away I realized, listening to her friends say goodbye, that as a child I had a special perspective but also missed a lot of who my mother was in her own world, among her colleagues and friends. I want to build bridges with my daughter, and with friends, so that when the day comes for them to listen and to speak of me, they — and especially my daughter — will have seen many caring and committed sides of me, and known the struggles and the moments of joy that illuminate my life.
Time is not on our side. Live like it matters, with connection to our society and our communities and friends, with joy, and with forgiveness, fight, and love in our hearts.