Thursday, January 19, 2012

halcyon - never the same river twice

Thanks, DB, for launching this blog and inviting me to be one of the voices here. I'm up first in a series of posts examining a single theme from four perspectives. Our first theme, inspired by our travels over the recent holiday season, is "Home," with emphasis on the notion that you can't go home again. I'm eager to read my fellow bloggers' take on this subject, especially since we grew up in the same Nebraska town and three of us still have parents living there.

Most people can, of course, go home again. The truism that says otherwise is less about the physical place than what we expect to find there. It applies to people like my dad, whose hometown was the Mayberry of North Dakota. Even Mayberry evolved, and my dad's homecomings are a bit like Barney Fife's few appearances in the color episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. It's the same show, but it feels completely different with new writers and an altered cast.

My homecomings are more like Denise Huxtable's return to The Cosby Show, except I haven't traveled to Africa (or eloped with Lenny Kravitz) in the interim and I'm not likely to move back in with my parents—though in weaker moments the thought has crossed my mind, if only to increase the ratio of adults to children in my home. Some things have changed since I left home—new furniture, different neighbors, a remodeled bathroom—but I can still rely on the same common sense and comedy bits with my dad's old music playing in the background. Based on the Cosby Show's portrayal of home as family, as well as Mayberry's representation of home as a broader community, remarkably little has changed back home.

What has changed is me. The title of Thomas Wolfe's novel, You Can't Go Home Again, is an incomplete expression of my experience. I prefer a less familiar aphorism attributed to a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus: "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." This rings most true when I'm pining not for my literal home but for a season of life when things were easier. In retrospect, the past generally seems easier than whatever season I'm currently in, though it didn't feel easy at the time. This suggests I've grown through progressively greater challenges and am not the same person who, for example, was so insecure the first year of college that she almost did go home again. Unfortunately, it also suggests life will never be easier than it is now.

What does all this have to do with parenting? Besides endeavoring to give my kids a home they'll want to return to from time to time, I think it's a reminder to help them spread their wings and sometimes let them fall; to give them shelter without sheltering them. Oddly, my thoughts return to Denise Huxtable and her short-lived enrollment at Hillman College. I had no idea I knew the lyrics to the theme song of A Different World, the Cosby Show spin-off depicting Denise's foray into higher ed. I remember little else about the show, but the song came readily to mind as I mused over this blog entry. You could do worse in defining a parent's role in preparing children for eventual adulthood.

I know my parents love me,
Stand behind me come what may.
I know now that I'm ready,
For I finally heard them say
It's a different world than where you come from.

Here's our chance to make it,
If we focus on our goal.
If you dish it we can take it.
Just remember that you've been told
It's a different world than where you come from.

halcyon - idyllically calm and peaceful; suggesting happy tranquility

1 comment:

  1. It makes me happy just to read this, Kim, and to know that of all the people I have ever met, you may be the only one who knows the lyrics to that song. I love you for that.