If I can salvage a moral to the story, perhaps it’s this: Life ultimately is about the pursuit of happiness
■ David Porter / Contributed
Funny how our priorities change over time. Things we wanted badly years ago, we don’t want at all today.
Used to be, I had three TV sets and 60 channels. Today, I don’t even have one TV. No cable. No satellite. No antenna. Anything I want to watch, I can view on my computer.
Used to have a home phone — One in the kitchen and one in the bedroom. I haven’t had a landline now for 16 years. We use cell phones for everything.
Of course, technology has enabled us to cut some of the cords, so to speak. But it’s as much about priorities as it is accessibility. Like cars, for instance. It used to be important to upgrade vehicles every two or three years. My car now has almost 200,000 miles on it and I dread the day I have to shop for a new one. Mostly it’s the car payment that I don’t want.
I remember when my son was young, he was into CB radios and car stereo systems. He had a job in high school and would spend his paycheck every week, it seemed, on some new get-up for the car. I remember shaking my head and telling him: Someday, none of this will be important to you. After you get married and start having kids, spending that extra money on electronics just fades into memory.
I still like my gadgets, but the priority is on making life easier. “Easy” pretty much is my priority these days.
There’s a line in a James McMurtry song: “All I want now is a comfortable chair.” I can relate to that. When you’re young, life is about how much you can pack into a day. Today, the focus is on how little can I get by with.
That doesn’t mean I don’t do anything but sit in my recliner all day. I want to. But I can’t. There is that crummy little four-letter word called “work” that I still have to pay attention to. Doing a lot is what enables me to do so little, if that makes sense.
If life consists of seasons, I’d say I’m in the autumn days. There are still a few leaves left on the tree, but half my remaining hair has turned to snow.
I’m not complaining about aging. In many ways, life just keeps getting better. Grandkids are a big reason for that. I think I see now why they’re called “grand.”
With your own kids, much of our interaction is more about us than them. It can seem like a constant battle getting your kids to act in the way that we want them to. They are a reflection of ourselves and one can feel tremendous responsibility for how their minds and careers take shape — as if we have much control over them.
Our kids grow up despite us but hopefully not to spite us. We learn too late that maybe we ought to give them more rope. I’m not suggesting that parents should just turn their kids loose into the street, but a little slack enables them to explore more and develop their own instincts.
Grandkids are so different because the framework is not the same. If I’m tasked with watching them all day or over a weekend, that old familiar parental role shows itself, but when I see them for only a couple hours at a time, it’s all about them. My grandsons are 1 and 3; they change so rapidly that it takes a couple of hours just to marvel in their development.
I’m a bad grandpa in the best kind of way. Take the candy dish, for instance. As a parent, you teach your kids to stay out of the candy dish. You might allow them one piece of candy, and you use the candy as a motivator to get the kids to do whatever they’re supposed to do. But as a grandpa, I take the lid off the candy dish and we attack it till it’s empty. Grandkids get all the candy.
It’s all part of my sinister plan to turn them into allies. I only have a couple hours at a time, so I have to use all the tools at my disposal. I bribe them with $2 bills, Happy Meals and cheap toys. I know when they go home, they’re going to want to come back. I want them to pester their parents daily to take them back to grandma and grandpa’s house. I’m evil like that.
So, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah; priorities and how they change over time. I don’t know that I have an enlightening point to make about that, but I have a deadline to make, so I reckon that’s my priority right now.
If I can salvage a moral to the story, perhaps it’s this: Life ultimately is about the pursuit of happiness. Life, liberty, sure. Making a difference. Uh-huh. Being a positive influence and leaving the world a better place. Blah, blah, blah. It’s about doing what makes you happy. As I get older, doing less is what makes me happy. And being around grandkids; that makes me happy. I guess it is still all about me.
Copyright 2017 by David Porter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I like stories with morals at the end. That’s how I got tricked into going mushroom hunting. Turned out, it was a “morel.” Moral of that story is to listen more closely.