When I was a teenager, I recall having a discussion with my grandmother. Both of my grandmothers were intelligent inspiring women, but in this particular case the conversation was with my Maternal grandmother. It came up, as a further discussion with my Paternal grandmother and grandfather at a different date, when my perspective on the discussion was slightly shifted.
My “granny” as we called her, was discussing with me – as we sewed. Her favorite past time. A hobby she passed some knowledge down to me, but that I was unable to recognize its true merits until lately – particularly in this year.
Our discussion was over something that I took for granted that was always an offensive thing to her. I was raised by children of the vietnam era, both of my parents were of the age to be greatly impacted from this war, and this struggle – the overall climate of society, the volatility and the fight for freedom. In this manner, one of the things the instilled in both myself, my brother and even later in my younger sister, was the fact that it was “okay” to speak your mind, and to cuss and to passionately argue your position – provided you weren’t inappropriate with the timing, or place of these things so as to get them in “trouble” with your rhetoric. IE – don’t cuss at church, because it might be offensive, and cause someone to point fingers in dismay at my parents for being “bad parents” – don’t argue or fight with teachers, because while your in school you are under their direction.
My parents, both of them, but particularly my mother was quite outspoken about our “right” to freedom and to do what we felt was right. While not preventing someone else from that same right. Part of true freedom is the right to do what you feel is right, while not inhibiting someone else’s ability to do what they feel is right. Its the balance of passion with wisdom.
These things were instilled at a very young age. There is an argument for me to say that these were some of the most prominent lessons my parents instilled in me. More so even then right and wrong – leaving this up to god to persay and a good dose of common sense. Teaching me “how” to identify right and wrong rather than “what” is…. a Very different lesson.
This conversation with my Granny – her perspective was excessively different from that of my parents. Her perspective was that of a child of a first generation immigrant. Her perspective was that of “blend in” – and for her, it was unthinkable that I would even consider cussing. How could I possible view this as EVER being something that was a “right” thing to do? – This discussion went on further to discuss the fact that while it was a privilege and a right to have freedom, part of the responsibility that went with that was ensuring moderation and temperance. She instilled in me the fact that society only works when EVERYONE is taking care to look out for the safety and humanity of everyone else, including themselves. By making an environment where everyone feels safe.
I remember just being overly confused at the time with how cussing, how expressing myself bolsteriously could possible be excluding anyone – how it could be endangering the freedoms we all so love and rever.
I remember further having this same conversation with my Paternal grandparents, to see if their perspective provided any further enlightenment. I know the conversation was not as direct, or as clear as the way I’ve typed it above – the conversation with my Granny wasn’t either – she was “lecturing me” about utilizing all of my words, instead of the words of grace, understanding and showing myself as a proper lady verses a heathen as she called those that didn’t. It was none the less the same conversation. I talked to them about these things, knowing full well, it was a given that for my Paternal grandparents, it was a not something I’d have ever considered with using cussing, or raising my voice – as I’d watched my cousins do this to must chastisement and frowning from my grandparents.
The information they provided in the round about way we discussed this, was about how protecting society was by showing always your best face, and encouraging this in others. By helping and promoting the best always, even in the worst, it was the way to encourage and ensure that everyone got thru – sure things were not always “the best” but there was never a good reason for lamenting or cussing. It happened, but it was never a good thing.
I remember taking all these things in, but just never understanding them. Just never being able to have a perspective on it. Until today.
Today, I saw how anarchy happens. I felt it. I felt the raw sense of when society falls to the point that its suddenly perceived by some as “protecting my rights as the expense of others, is okay” — it was like a lock fiting into the key for that conversation.
It is not a pleasant revelation. Its also not a safe one. I understand now, how walking down this seemingly comfortable whimsical road of “its okay to do x, what could it hurt?” – is actually – well there is an expression “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” — that expression makes so much more sense to me today.
I also remember being told this year, when I decided I want 40 more years of life – that this would not be an easy 40 years. I remember being told, that many things would be taken away from me, and while not all of them would be bad, that there would be a heavy cost to living another 40 years.
I remember when I was younger – a teenager, a 20 year old – I remember the nostalgia I felt for the 20’s and the 30’s – and I am realizing now, how the 80s and the 90s are going to start feeling like the 20s and 30s did most likely for the people – my grand parents that lived those years. They were not really overly great, and the things that seemed so “wow cool” from those ages were actually the fringe from all the turmoil that was erupting.
I’m reminded of the fact that this wheel of time goes around and around, and the lessons continue to repeat. It is both a reminder of the blessings, and a warning of the potentials.
I think my granny was probably right. There is never a reason to not be lady, and to exhibit poise and grace – however, that being said, wearing my pj’s around the house sure is nicer than getting dressed up.
P took me around for a drive today, because too many passionate things set me off… rather set off my imagination into wild whims of mad max and the thunderdome fancy. I needed to be bombarded with nature to remember that for all the struggles that we are experiencing right now as a culture – as a society – as a country … that the world will continue to go on – the sun will continue to shine (at least for a couple million more years at least) and the wind will continue to blow. To quote one of my favorite poems (thank you cousin P for introducing this to me so many years ago) Desiderata: With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Thank you universe for reminding me that there is a balance.