The End of an Era by A.Y.

I can recall the midday sunlight showing through the wooden boards that veiled the windows in my childhood home, creating a pattern of long golden lines stretching across the carpeted floor like cornrows. Mom rushed back and forth from tending to the pots boiling in the kitchen, to nailing more planks across every opening in the house. It is hard to remember all the details of my childhood but I maintain vivid recollections of my mother sitting on our couch and listening intently to any of the news of the war that was constantly spouting out of the radio while I played somewhere off in the darkness of our fortified house. It is fascinating to think of the vast and obvious differences in my life as a young child and teen versus that of our up and coming generations, and though they are entirely dissimilar it does not make the significance of any single memory or issue any lesser or greater.

I was born on March 11th 1941 in the suburban bay area community of San Mateo California. My father was a high ranking business executive for a telephone and telegraph company based out of San Francisco. My mom did very little working before my birth and afterwards spent her time at home caring for me and my siblings and tending to the house as so many women back then did. I attended redwood high school, and after graduating, went on to attend the University of California Berkeley.

When I was 18 my aspiration in life was to continue on playing baseball through college and hopefully graduate on into either the major or minor leagues however more realistically I hoped to go to school and then follow in my father’s footsteps and become a major business executive, however my life didn’t however transpire quite as planned. Rather than becoming a baseball player or a businessman I chose to become a college professor, instructing political science at Sacramento state. It was at this job that I would meet my wife with whom I am still with today. It was also during this period in my life in which I wrote and published a book regarding the bureaucracy of the California state government titled, “Power and Politics in California.”

I often find myself contemplating the occurrences and directions of my life and compare them to that of my grandsons generation. For instance, for a great deal of my life I was working towards the aspiration of becoming just as my father was. My actions were almost entirely dictated, in retrospect, by my underlying desire to make an impression on my parents. I believe this was common theme of the youth during my adolescence, which has in the past half century, began fade, giving way to a new age of individualism. This change has been gradual and even today children struggle with a sense of failure if they do not accomplish that which their parents did or expect from them. That being said, many changes in our society and technology have actively pushed the focus of our youth and their actions from outer influences to inner motivations. This evolution is impossible to entirely explain however I do recognize a number of significant factors which have aided to the transition. Principally the revolutionization of technology and the increased accessibility to knowledge and influence. I remember as a young boy revering my father. I sensed that I could ask him any question about the world and how it worked and he would always return with an answer. Despite the validity of the statement, my father’s response was how I was able to learn about the world around me and I was always influenced by his words. Today this influence may no longer be from the hearsay of our parents but rather just simply words on a digital screen. While it is possible the innovation and utilization of personal computers and devices have in some ways, shut our children and our people as a whole from a number of interactions which would have otherwise accompanied the act of gaining access to the information and knowledge, it has also acted as a key proprietor of the push towards expanding individual cognitive thinking, giving children the capacity to make more choices for themselves.    

Since I was 18 the expectations for dating and marriage have been significantly altered as well. Growing up it was expected that one would have to find a women and settle down to live a very normal life in which the male generally provided while the female would stay at home and tend to the children. In many ways love lives were like products on a conveyer belt. One relationship was never too much different from another, each being a copy of a copy throughout the generations. Premarital sex was looked upon very disdainfully however that isn’t to say it never happened. In fact a lot of people got married simply for the purposes of having sex. This would make for a number of unhealthy relationships however back then divorce was very uncommon.

In a sense, our societal views on wedlock, though divorce rates would show you otherwise, have become healthier, and more honed in on the compatibility of the theoretical couple, than personal temptations nor material or familial influences. Furthermore changing gender and sexuality customs have allowed the engagement of premarital relationships to proceed without intense stigma or parental interjection. To explain this transition I must recall one of my previous postulations. The reform of our views on marriage may quite simply be interpreted as the result of our growing focus on individualism. When I was 10 years old my mother would not let me walk to the corner store a block away from my house because it would be dark in an hour. It is for this reason I am briefly stunned when my step son and daughter in law allow their children to play late into the night by themselves at the park just adjacent to the house. Because parents in this day and age are often more preoccupied, seeing as how so many households have become accustomed to both the mother and the father being employed full time, as well as a growing sentiment of guiding rather than ferrying their children, the result is a nation of kids and adolescents whom are better equipped for experiencing emotional attachment in their relationships and maintaining a more liberating love life as a whole.

I Since my childhood so much has changed regarding the strategies and methodologies of parenting as well as the experiences, pleasures and hardships of coming into adolescents. Our mindsets have altered in a way that has allowed for so many more young women and men to immerse themselves in a lifestyle which calls out specifically to them. From regrets I maintain to this day I am able and willing to generate a moral which can be extracted from my past grievances. I believe it is important for our up and coming generations to overcome any expectations that are placed upon them and practice individualism, by following the lifestyle which truly speaks to them. For so much of my life I was focused on pleasing my parents and living life the way it was “supposed to be”. Only until I decided to give up on the idea of following in my father’s footsteps and become a businessman, did I truly realize my passions, and today I am eternally grateful for the way in which my life has changed.

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