Wednesday, January 15, 2003

This quarter, I’m enjoying Wednesdays. Usually I’m not over-fond of them, but this quarter they’re turning out nicely. Last Wednesday and this morning, for instance, I managed to pry myself out of bed only fifteen minutes later than when I ought to wake up, rather than the usual half hour.

Wednesdays are also short days at school since I only have Biology and German, which leaves me free for the day after 1:30. Mondays are technically just as short, but any free time on Monday is usually spent trying to make up for the sleep I didn’t get on Sunday night, so I hardly notice they exist. The only reason I remember Mondays at all, really, is that they’re hell made manifest on Earth, and that sort of thing really burns into your memory.

In less pleasant news, I did something today that was really quite wrong, and ought to make me disappointed in myself. Puzzling, though, I don’t really feel that bad about it. Lately I’ve felt a heightened sense of morality. But counter intuitively, I’ve still behaved worse and felt less guilt over the fact. It may be that I exhausted all of my emotions for the time being, with my lousy start of the week this week. But more likely, this particular bad behavior has just become so habitual for me, that I shrug it off as commonplace. You can become so accustomed to even the most heinous evils that they really don’t have an obvious emotional effect on you. If people can become impervious to murder, you can forget about all of the little evils we do each and every day.

In totally opposing news, I’m happy to report that I’m beginning to feel like I’m striking a bit of moderation in some areas which I’ve struggled with for a while. The television thing is an example of it, though it’s a trend transcending entertainment. But, for instance, while years ago I put the ban on television and didn’t allow myself to watch any at all; and while, a year or so ago I began watching it again with an all-encompassing passion; now I’m just moderating the thing. I don’t worry if it’s on when I’m in the room because someone else is watching it, and I don’t keep myself from watching things which interest me. But I do turn it off when there’s nothing that I specifically want to see. It’s not controlling my schedule now; I no longer think of days in terms of “Well, Monday is Boston Public night, and Wednesday is South Park night, so…uhh, I guess I can see you Thursday, since there’s nothing good on then, anyway.” Why waste time on television? It’s just an elaborate advertising scheme. Heh, I said this to my father the other day, and he said: “Because it’s American!” And he’s right. There can be no more American activity than subjecting ones self to countless hours of commercialism in the name of turning off the brain for relaxation’s sake. “The business of America is business!” you know. Fortunately, I'm no patriot of the new America.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about raising children lately. I’m not quite sure why, since I don’t plan on having any anytime soon. But it’s still on my mind. It’s a different thing imagining children and actually having them, of course. But I think you have to imagine it all first so you can decide what’s really important to you and what you want to pass down. Most parents don’t bother to do this, which is why they end up with confused and highly confusable progeny who see the world as one giant relativistic, largely meaningless experiment, in hedonism. That was my growing up experience, anyway, as child number five of a family who weren’t all that big on thinking anything through ahead of time.

But while I have to say that a lot of my childhood is pretty much unsalvageable, and I wouldn’t want to try to salvage it anyway, there are a few things that I think my parents did right that are worth keeping in mind. My parents weren’t strict, for instance. And that fact probably instilled the only bit of self-sufficiency in me that I have. Other kids worried about getting caught doing something wrong, and I was always worried about my conscience nagging me about it, or my mother looking disappointed. You can’t hurt a rule’s feelings, so why worry about breaking one? And also, my parents were big on raising us all in the country. I didn’t like the fact much when I was little. City kids had parks, and could walk to other kids' houses every day. We were kept in a sort of de facto solitude because of our location. And in retrospect, it was probably a lot better for us. City kids had more friends, but they also had more pressures. Country kids were out in the woods chasing animals; city kids were in the streets worrying about being chased by bestial criminals.

Anyway, it's all just imaginings. I can hardly keep straight what I'm doing next quarter, next year, or after graduation, much less what I'm going to do when I have actual babies.

It strikes me suddenly that a relationship between a mother and her child is probably the world's most beautiful. So much sacrifice and symbiosis and hope and suffering and joy. And our culture does its best to destroy all of that. I think if the modernists had their way, they'd prefer to build factories for the production of infants. And they'd take the mothers away from their homes to work the machines.