My daughter, Alex, texted me on Friday to tell me that she’s getting a tattoo. Alex is twenty-one and can do pretty much whatever she wants. I don’t financially support her, so I have no leverage on her. Alex has a couple of piercings, ears and one in the eyebrow (which I kinda like) – but she doesn’t have any tattoos. I guess I was hoping that she’d make through life like me, without one.
I don’t what it is about tattoos. Maybe it’s the permanency of it. At least with piercings – you can take them out. But with a tattoo … there you are, it’s yours forever. I just have this vision of Alex getting this thing she’ll regret in a week.
Rather than texting her back with the standard parental rant – “No you’re not getting it,” which would have been of no value – I waited to catch my breath. “What’s the tattoo going to be,” was my response four minutes later. “It’s going to be Phoenix on my arm,” replied my daughter. “I saw it and I couldn’t resist getting it.”“It’s me, especially after what I’ve gone through.”
If you’ve read any of my other posts here, you’d know Alex spent a good portion of her high school living in motels and a tent as we went through some rough times. And the year and half with her mother before then was even worse. She didn’t let it get her down, at least outwardly.
In fact she’s used those times to strengthen herself. Heck she got hired by Apple right after she turned eighteen. It’s kind of the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Alex is an embodiment of that. Alex is turning out great – mentally, physically and emotionally. I couldn’t be more pleased. She’s even a contrarian like me 😉
A lot of parents have a hard time communicating with their kids when they’re around this age. You never really know how they’re doing. They may say they’re good – but in reality they’re not. More times than not, they’ll tell you what they think you want to hear. So if something bad happens – you have no idea it’s coming till it’s too late. It’s the “I had no idea” thing.
Well … my daughter told me an awful lot in that tattoo that she’s getting.
By definition, a Phoenix is the mythical bird that rose from the ashes to become stronger than ever.
What this tattoo tells me is that Alex went through a lot in high school, probably more than I thought. Just because I didn’t mind sleeping in a tent in the Wilderness Park in Redondo Beach, doesn’t mean it didn’t take its toll on Alex. More than ever I realize that.
But what I also realize is that now she feels strong, stronger from the experiences she’s had (good and bad). She’s in a very good “place” right now, and if she’s willing to brand herself with that fact … then I couldn’t be happier.
She has the perfect positive totem when times looks bleak and she’s not on her game. All she has to do is look at her arm. After all she’s a Phoenix.
As everyone knows, unless you’ve been living under a rock, our country had a tragic shooting in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday. Representative Gabby Giffords and several others were shot outside a Safeway during a “Congressman on the Corner” rally. Several of those shot were killed, including a nine year girl and a federal judge.
Much of the attention has moved past the details of the shooting and gunman, Jared Loughner – to the influences and influencers behind it. The mainstream media has anointed Sarah Palin the designate evil puppet master due to her target ridden anti-healthcare bill website graphic. That and the vitriolic rhetoric that has become ubiquitous over the last two years have the Republican guard (excuse the pun, but I had to) spinning … physically and publicly.
Now I’m no Sarah Palin fan. In fact, I believe her ascendancy to the political front has “dumbed down” public discourse to level not seen in decades – since probably the McCarthy witch hunt. But that doesn’t mean I think she to responsible for this atrocity. But I don’t think she’s blameless either.
When someone rises to a level where they have followers – by definition they have people who follow them. With this, comes power and often wealth (however you define it). But with this wealth and power also comes responsibility. I suppose you can lead your herd blindly over the edge of a cliff, and it’ll ultimately be the fault of the lemmings, one can’t discount the responsibility of the influence.
Too often we only focus on the perks of power and influence, without looking at the ramification of possessing them. In a “Perfect World,” if our leaders misused their givings we would just walk away, letting them spew their idioms to the wind, within only the earshot of the delusional. But the last time I checked, the “Perfect World” was still way off on the horizon.
As humans we seem to gravitate towards answers to the unknown. Where we find these answers is where the issue lies. Too often we become products of our environment. And our environment includes the people and messages they relay, often over and over ad nauseam. Continued exposure to these messages, in fact any message that is continually repeated, will result in acceptance. After all … isn’t this what the advertising industry is built on?
We could all hope that we could sit back and under informed circumstances come to rational decisions that will appropriately govern our actions. But again, this is not the “Perfect World.” And in the meantime, those with the followers, those with the messages … the messages our followers take as gospel – must be responsible.
While the message of this post is directed towards the events of Saturday … I think we should extrapolate, and make it ours. If you’re reading this you probably have a group of followers. Whether they friend you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter or just come to the parties you throw in your living room – they listen to what you say. You may not be Sarah Palin, but you still have followers. And some of these followers may act on what you say… or what they perceive you say.
I’m sure Palin had no idea her callous ranting, verbally and graphically, would result in actions like Saturday – and I’m not saying it did, that doesn’t make it any better. All we can do is learn from our mistakes – all of us.
Before we post or Tweet of even jump up on our soapbox in front of our children or friends … let’s think about its effects and not take for granted the influence we may have over the people who listen to us.
Because with an audience, with influence, must come responsibility. For the actions that result from our influence are really just an extension of our own. And are you willing to live with the consequences.
It seems like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is good for one thing … and no it’s not shopping – that’s assumed. It’s lists of the trends for next year. In the past four days I’ve read predictions on social media, politics, entertainment, loyalty programs and just about everything else you can think of. Anybody who’s anybody feels they should drag out the carcass of Nostradamus and throw out their take on their view of the future.
Well here’s mine … well kinda. I’m not going to tell you what I think is going to happen, but rather what I want to happen. I’m not going to get into the obvious. We all want to end the quagmire in the Middle East, we want the homeless to be fed and housed and we all want more greenbacks in our wallet – or our PayPal account. I want to discuss things that will get us closer to these and other big picture items. Kind of like a list mini solutions.
It pretty much follows the quote on my Twitter bio: “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises” – Demosthenes (384 BC–322 BC)
Every day or so I’m going to lay out an item; some profound and some, well just pet peeves that I think to need to be addressed. Understand that a lot of these are these are reflections of my day-to-day activities, so bear with me.
But most of all – I want this dissertation to be a “jumping off point” for discussion. I want input, good bad or indifferent. Throw out your own views, your ‘Perfect World’ for 2011. Only through discussion and collaboration can anything get done.
Well here’s “My Perfect World … 2011.” Suggestion #1:
Put physical education back in school.
This just seems like a no-brainer to me. Everyday, all we hear is how physical activity helps us every way imaginable. It helps brain fitness. It helps prevent obesity. Do I need to go on?
Improving school performance is one thing that everybody can agree no matter what your political affiliation. Every president has their ideas and programs on how to solve our declining standing in education rankings. So why do we strap our children with a ball and chain. We make them sit in school seven hour plus a day … yes sit. And we all do this while we as parents obsess about ourselves with our treadmills, stair climbers and fitness centers. We worry about child obesity and fast food but do nothing about it except pass the buck to the politicians to mandate social legislation.
If as a kid you develop fitness habits when you’re young – habits you’ll carry through in later years. Anybody who wasn’t in shape as a teenager know how hard it is to get in shape as an adult. Why would be we want to wish this on our children. And no, organized school sports are not for everybody. As anyone who’s done it knows there’s a whole subculture there that is not for a lot of students. And on top of it – a lot of kids just don’t like traditional sports.
Why don’t we have the kids help determine what physical activities they want to participate in – as long as the activity contributes to fitness. The goal here is not so much to teach the ins and outs of a sport (a sport us as parents are interested in) but rather get the kids up and moving so their brains are ready to learn the things they have to – like math, writing, etc. Imagine a phy ed teacher who’s a skateboarder rather than a football player. You think a few of the disenfranchised teenagers at risk might pay attention a bit more? You think so!
And no I don’t want to hear about budget concerns. Does a contractor skimp on the foundation of a building to save money. No – there’s even laws for that. What do we expect when we build the foundation of our children on a landfill?
Figure out where the money will come from! If enough parents pull their heads out of 24 Hour Fitness long enough – the solutions will appear.
I’ve said enough. Now I want to hear from you …
If you’re on Twitter please follow me … there’s cool stuff happening over there too @clayforsberg.