Time to Waste

This Father’s Day, I will be spending a significant part of my day planning and selecting dual enrollment courses for my 16 year old daughter’s first year at a local state college. On the one hand, the fact that I have a daughter at this stage of life is both daunting and thrilling. On the other hand, a daughter at this age means I also am getting older, and time is moving along at its usual, unstoppable, undeniable, unslowable (that is not a real word) pace.

Ironically, as I drove home from the airport two nights ago, I selected a route I never take and came upon an intersection I have not encountered in a number of years. Just pulling up to that intersection cast my mind into a recollection of my own college experience by such a strong intrusion to my mental state–assisted undoubtedly by fatigue from the long day preceding–that I almost diverted my course home to head to an apartment I have not lived in for over 20 years!

Time is a fascinating study, but I think our perception of time is far more interesting. I also wonder often if my generation has, in general, not aged and matured as elegantly as the generations before. That might just be my perception. It seems as though we lack a rite of passage as we get older, the kind that says, “You’ve arrived. You’re an adult now and responsible for your actions. Go make the world a better place.” I suppose high school graduation my be that for some, college graduation that for others, and for others still marriage or parenthood.

But as marriage and parenthood are arriving far later in life for many in Western culture, those life events are coming too late to be as nearly effective provocateurs to our maturation process into adulthood. For others, parenthood arrives far too early because the necessary information (A + B will eventually equal C if you add them together enough times, and your decisions impact the world and not just you) never came at all and were left for the great hand of experience to convey.

No, we need to take a more active roll in the upbringing of this next generation. Truthfully, we have time to waste. But we have done that and seen where it leads. It is not a happy place for us, for our children, or for our communities. I suspect many of the atrocities the media feels obligated to show us are often perpetrated by individuals to whom is was poorly or never conveyed: your actions matter. Now go and make the world a better place.