Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Mike turns 30 today.

It's official. I'm old. My baby, the son of my mind, heart and body, turns 30 today.

He has grown into a man to be loved and admired, trusted and respected. He is a far better son than I was a parent. Hell, he is even a far better parent than I ever was. Kinder, more patient, more present, more mature.

They both are, my sons. They are good men. Honorable men.

Unlike my own mother, I am not shy about telling them these things.

But that is probably the key theme in my parenting-- I did it as much unlike my own mother as I could. My mother wasn't a bad person--- over the years I came to understand that she was probably scarred up inside herself and didn't understand how badly she hurt me, but I always knew that I wasn't the kind of daughter she wanted me to be. That nothing I would ever do, or be, or accomplish would ever be enough. My successes would never balance out that primary failure. The self-loathing and self-destructive behavior that led me to the edge began in that house. I vowed that that was one cycle that would end with me. I might not be able to figure out how to fix myself, but my sons would know that I loved them without conditions.

Some of those reactionary decisions had to have been good things, but others were pretty damned stupid and awful. So, I didn't make Mom's mistakes. I made my own. And some of them were doozies.

So, where am I tonight? Half a country away, as usual. In a hotel room pounding on a computer, alone. As usual. This is the way it is, the way it has been for a very long time, and the way it is likely to be for the forseeable future.

24 years ago, just before my own 30th birthday, I looked at what my life had become, and I knew I had to change some things to survive. I guess maybe tonight I've got a raging case of the "be careful what you ask for's."

Tonight, on Mike's thirtieth, I'm wondering if the choices were the right ones. No, that's not it. There are no absolute "right" or "wrong" choices, even someone as crazy as I am knows that. But I'm wondering if it is time for yet another radical housecleaning in my life. Have I become too set in my ways? Too closed off? Have the deliberate behaviors I've cultivated in my life to get me to this point become dysfunctional now that I'm here?

Tonight I am looking at my life with the same eyes that said, at 30, "If this is as good as it is ever going to get, I've got to get out of here." I'm wondering what it is I ought to be changing to reshape the next (last?) 30 years of my life. I've made some huge changes in the past couple of years, but they were largely surface things--- I changed my geography, changed my job, I even finally bought "grown-up" furniture--- but I'm still the same isolated loner who can't seem to connect with people, except in a professional way. I get to the end of a work day or even a happy day spent with family and friends and all I want is the silence and the solitude that I have come to accept as my "off-duty" life. Even I know that's a bit odd.

So, I'm wondering... what do I do now? How do I fix what is broken before my time runs out?

Dont' change a bit. We all do our misstakes in our living, we try not to make the same misstakes as our parents - and do others. Good for me to say, who has never even seen my father. But I think that in the end we can look back and say, "ok, Mike is 30 and feeling well - so what". And don't feel sorry about your does and don'ts, I'm sure you did your best all the time. A good rule: never go back (or think back) yesterday isn't there any more.
I also have to confess that I have been a great admirerer of you, during the Jasc PSP time, still have many of your tutorials nicely printed and put into a folder - thank you for those days.
If you like to contact me, please send an e-mail to: eritott@hotmail.com I would also be happy if you had a look at my homepage, written in a horible native language, finnish, but the pictures are there.
Just have a nice day, and wind up your tail again.
Best regards
Thanks for the kind words, Eric. I'll try to visit your site and send you some private mail soon.

I was having a really bad day when I wrote that post, so it sounds gloomier than I usually feel.

My sons have grown to be amazing men. Their choices and their paths have not always been what I would have chosen for them, but I've (at least) been smart enough to admit that I've never had all the right answers-- for them or even for myself.

But life is constant change and metamorphosis... and often the skills and the habits that get you where you think you want to go aren't enough to keep you there.

I'm still teaching and writing software user guides and technical courseware -- but I'm doing it for different kinds of software these days.

I'm still out there with my camera whenever I can find the time ---but I have to work harder to find the time now. The travel is constant, but I rarely have an opportunity to stop and really see the places where I am working.

I've made it through a couple of serious challenges to my physical health in recent years -- and I had to face the fact of my own mortality in a more dramatic way --as well as deal with the death of both of my parents, so, while I don't waste much time (usually) in second-guessing the past, I think it's only natural that I ask myself... "OK, you made it this far. What should you be doing now?"

Sometimes the hardest thing for me to process is that if my sons are now grownups, I guess I have to be a grownup, too. :-)
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