The Anxiety of Young’Uns (And, what thanks do we get?)

A.V. Walters

We’ve been in a tumult lately. My sweetie’s teenage daughter has been in a downward spiral. You know, the you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do phase, only in a big way. From strictly a developmental point of view, this is entirely normal. (Well, to a point.) Parents need to learn that they have limited control, and the best that they can do, is their best. Beyond that you cross your fingers and fasten your seatbelt. I believe that psychology has failed to fully plumb the depths of all the various, developmental periods in our lives.  Oh, they have the early years pretty well mapped; it’s easy to check out this tortured teen. But they’re missing the point, these life stages continue to unroll, dependent upon our own circumstances. Once we hit adulthood, the shrinks roll their eyes and say, “That’s just life.” (“So, how does that make you feel?”)

Many of these developmental plateaus are linked with common-life events, a marriage, the birth of a child, divorces, the death of a parent. They all resonate at deep levels that challenge our interior balance and make us question how to move forward, from here. My dad passed away almost two years ago. I still miss him terribly, but we did the best we could and that’s all anyone can ask. It changed me. I feel protective towards my mom, and I find myself planning my life for a different kind of future—planning for the fruitful and productive end-game. Now, I’m next in line, as the older generation. Not a geezer yet, but it’s on the horizon. Another stage, waiting to be explored.

My landlord is retrofitting one of his barns. Around here, a lot older farmers just let their barns decay and collapse. It seems wasteful, but it turns out there are ordinances about being able to tear down a derelict barn. Sometimes it’s about preserving historical structures or, to hold the ‘country-estate’ developers at bay, rural counties have legislated protection for aging agricultural buildings. Elmer is a hold-out. Despite his advancing years, he’s still fixing and building. There’s always some construction project going on around here, usually several at once. They seem to drag on forever that way, but time ticks by differently if you’re busy. By remaining in a constant mode of renewal, I think Elmer is cheating time. His knees are trouble and he says he’s ‘semi-retired,’ but he may well be the busiest man I know. And I think there’s something to that. If you think retirement is your golden time to sit back and relax, I think you may be planning on checking out. The secret seems to be staying in the thick of it—being busy and engaged. (I know, this ain’t a news flash, but a lot of folks seem to forget it.) I can’t imagine anything better than being too busy to notice the passing of the years.

But, there’s a downside to this meditation, and well, nobody’s perfect. As part of the ongoing barn work, Elmer had an electrician come to test and redo some of the wiring. No one remembers how long the power was down (or at least they’re not owning up to it) but when Rick went to check on the emu eggs, the incubator they’re in was now fifteen degrees lower than it should be. How long that had been going on, or how low it had gone before that, who knows. There we were, all set with strategies for enduring a storm induced power outage and, without notice, inadvertence steps in. With any luck, these eggs should start hatching as early as next week, but now, we don’t know if they’ll make it. There’s nothing we can do now except wait, and see. I guess it’s no different than teenagers — we just do what we can, keep an eye out for ‘power outages,’ and hope for the best.

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