Episode 8: Jack Jack
Updated: Jun 15
I picked a book this morning, after giving up on another last night.
You know: when a book is just going to be a sloth.
Yeah, so the other will be passed on, perhaps to someone who will appreciate it.
Happy book thoughts.
I decided on Jack Kerouac's, On The Road. My plan is to read it, take it on my Arizona vacation next month and take a selfie with a Route 66 sign...
at the risk of joining 1.8 million others on Instagram.
I think I would have liked being part of the Beat Generation. Or I assume.
A little story--you know how much my brain loves a story--
In the 1950s, the Beats were artists and writers who rebelled against "normal" middle class life with literature and self-expression. Their style became marketed and monetized, as it will.
My view: Beats were the thoughts that gave way to the more outspoken actions of the Hippies in the 60s.
Which I can appreciate.
I was created in the late 60s, so I was not there for the first hand experience,
but you know I dig my tie-dye. Jokester.
And, of course, the literary thing. Words. So powerful.
The other Jack this week is my daughter.
I unconventionally call her that, a "man's name."
It's her birthday. I'll see her this week, spend some time, hug her too much and then say,
"See ya later."
Of all the things I have conformed to, I am so glad I became a mother and bit that bullet.
We were conventional, mostly. We tried to be, because wasn't that SUCCESS?
Middle class, two parents, cozy home and family dinners?
We did all the things.
Except keep up our relationship.
But a mother, I will always be. It's a permanent, genetic connection that I now see as wonderful.
The bio mother that I started with made no connection, for all her reasons,
so it's great that I now understand how lovely it can be.
Which all depends on our personal choices, right? How we show up?
What kind of mother do I want to be?
Yes, I was shown this other example, but I don't have to mirror what I was taught.
Isn't that what conformity is? Mirroring someone else's example.
If I mirror a Beatnik or a Hippie, terms neither group ever originated,
"beatniks" was created by a journalist to describe Kerouac followers,
and "hippies" called themselves freaks--outsiders called them Hippies,
if I mirror them, then I'm still being a little disingenuous.
What is being ME?
It's a million little choices, decisions every day, all day long, on how I want to live and love and share.
And people may not like it.
Or label me with a nickname they choose.
So, back to my Jack.
I feel like she is an adventurer, in this way. I don't think she likes convention either,
just for the sake of following.
She is really kind and compassionate, and she can see how society is not,
how most institutions are not.
As Kerouac was compassionate for those in our society who suffer,
a group that was exponentially larger in the 50s,
(or maybe we use a more kind metric since then?
I think my Jack has that quality, too.
Today's Deep Breath: a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision.
What is my hope for her? I have so many.
One: not to tick off boxes that society says are necessary.
Surely not that.
Only if it's what she wants.
My strongest maybe, with the longest-reaching implications,
is the skill of saying, "I want that."
Not only in the big things, to go after in life,
but in small, daily decisions.
Her decisions, one after the other.
I'm totally projecting!
Isn't that what I want for myself?
But am I not doing that now? Haven't I always?
It's a myth that I have been passive in all these years, doing what was expected,
and creating a life that reflected subcultures and perceived ideals.
I made those choices.
I don't regret.
I asked myself aloud in the shower this morning, and could not think of one thing.
I think I did the best I could.
But I'm not done.
I have time to heal and create and live.
That is my wish for her, too.
Happy Birthday, Jack.
I love you.