Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘home’

There’s (Still) No Place Like Home

From Sunday musings…

The unforeseen consequences of otherwise positive trends can be quite interesting. Like a pebble dropped into a pond, one never knows where the ripples will end up and how powerful they will be when they get there. For example, our mobile economy has largely liberated our young people from place. In turn, despite historically “easy” mortgage money, the prevailing trend in our young people is away from owning a home and toward serial rentals.

Domiciles as opposed to homes.

What makes this all the more poignant is watching how desperately our parents’ generation clings to their places, how they cling to their homes. It’s more than staying in their home communities; they hunker down and bunker into the physical space that is the home itself, oft times beyond the point of reason. Clan White witnessed this as my Mom and Dad dug in and insisted on staying in the same house in which they raised their kids long after it was actually unsafe to do so. Sadly, Beth and I are about to embark on a “Groundhog Day” journey after a dismal diagnosis was announced this weekend and her folks hunker down in the home.

Why is it that a house becomes so much more than just an address, a place to lay one’s head? Why does it become so hard to leave a space even after it is clear that the space itself has become a problem? At least a part of this is quite simple and straightforward, and holds an important lesson for our young transients. There is a substantial emotional commitment to place when you own it. Once you’ve made that commitment the four walls of the house come to contain not only the life you are living but also all of the memories of the life you lived.

It’s funny…even houses that folks really don’t like become so full of memories that they become almost impossible to leave. The house of my youth long ago outgrew my parents’ life, and yet there remains my Mom, bouncing around like the BB in one of those big glass box mazes. My in-laws live far, far away from the people and the things they will need, but for the moment they, too, have dug in their heels. On balance the comfort of home trumps all objective reasons to leave a house.

And the lesson for those of you who are early in your journey? At some point it clearly seems that finding your place is important, and once having done so making that commitment to the physical space that will become your home appears to be important, too. The details about the space may very well be irrelevant. Heck, as our folks demonstrate the physical attributes may even be a net negative at some point. Still, there’s just something about having a space of your own, something about everything that goes into actually owning your home.

As trite as it is, our parents are holding fast to this to the very end: there’s no place like home.


Musings at Christmas on Connecting

‘Tis the season. Home for the  Holidays and all that. Gatherings of all sorts, at home and away, as we make and re-make our connections in one of the best parts of the Christmas Holiday season. We send out a couple hundred Christmas cards every year, and I never tire of seeing the cards from friends and family as they pile up on our “card tree” on the counter. Those annoying notes and letters that accompany the cards? The family pictures? Love ’em! In Gladwell’s universe my wife and I are “Super-Connectors”; this year I’ve been thinking about how we all connect in our modern world.

1) Twitter. Has there ever been a better example of the power of community interacting with the power of a technology than CrossFit HQ weblebrity  Pat Sherwood, his “Go South” adventure, and Twitter? Calamity or comedic pratfall, there to pick up the pieces were CrossFitters who have never set foot on U.S. soil, let alone Santa Cruz, all connected to Pat via Twitter. That was fun.

Twitter is “instant on/always on”. Kinda like a 140 character postcard from anywhere and everywhere, we take the pulse of our world (and others take our pulse for us). I’ve only made a couple of connections here, but I’m learning.

3) Facebook. Gotta admit, my entry into the world of FB was initially a rather cynical attempt to grow the business at my day job. That lasted precisely one day. That’s how long it took my Facebook page to be discovered by one of my CrossFit friends from the days when CrossFit.com had 1000 comments.

Boy, did THAT work out well for me!

There are all kinds of folks over there on FB who have read something of mine, or who know someone who did. I treasure each one of them. The really cool connections though, are the ones where FB has allowed us to grow what was probably just a handshake at the CrossFit Games or a quick hello at some event, and keep expanding something that would very likely be a nice little friendship if it weren’t for the hundreds of miles between us. Here’s hoping I get to shake a bunch of new hands, for real, in 2014.

4) Email. About 2 years ago I was invited to join this incredible email thread comprised of men like me who had spent some time at a particular tiny college in New England. The tactic used by the guy who launched the thread some 10+ years ago was quite simple: wish one of the guys a Happy Birthday and tell a story about his days in college or shortly thereafter.

Sometimes even tell a true story!

I’d call it a low-rent Facebook for old guys but for two important points: there are no pictures (I have no idea what 95% of the guys look like now), and it is quite private (we all know how that privacy thing is working over in Zuckerburgville, eh?). Not a lot of places for any of us to work through stuff with people who get you at whatever stage of life you might be in at the moment.

I’m connected there.

5) Hugs. ‘Tis the Christmas season in the Christian world. If ever there’s a time we seek to connect this is it. Planes, trains, and automobiles–or if you are Pat Sherwood a motorcycle–we move Heaven and Earth to get ourselves together. Not Facebook or Twitter or Email together, either. Nope, real live, honest to goodness, reach out and touch connecting.

I like to think of it as “hugging distance”.

On Christmas Day I will be in an airport, alone, heading to my ancestral home. Back to the primordial bed. I will leave my little, growing family in order to be with my parents in time for Christmas dinner. My siblings and I have hosted our folks in turn, each of us having the privilege of their presence every 4 years. Now unable to travel, in order for my Mom and Dad to connect, we four must go to them.

If you are very observant you might have noticed a couple of connections missing from my list above. Postal service and phone calls are how the extended Clan White has always communicated. Once upon a time Gram sent each of us a postcard every day. That’s every single day. Four of us. We called and talked on the phone, all of us. We still call and we still talk (you young’uns might have a fleeting knowledge of what that green “call” button on your texting instrument is there for) even though Gram and Gramp don’t really do the cell phone thing.  But the postcards have stopped.

Aged and bent, very nearly (but not yet quite) broken, my parents’ lives have shrunken to the point where nearly all that is left is that most intimate of connections, the one that can only be made by walking through the front door.

This is not one of those wistful “oh I wish” or “oh if only I had” posts. Our lives proceed as they will. As they have. As Rafiki would say “it doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.”  We connect and we disconnect. Sometimes quite deliberately, on purpose, and sometimes quite simply by accident. At any one time, though, we are connected to some someones, and our connections might still include a Mom and a Dad. Anyone who’s been here awhile and read any of my nonsense might remember my post around this time last year; it seemed quite unlikely that I would have another year with my Dad.  I travel on Christmas this year with one part sorrow at the leaving, and two parts surprise and joy at the destination. Against all odds I still have that front door to open, with TWO parents on the other side waiting.

One more time, to my great surprise and delight, “[W]e’re gonna get together then, Dad. We’re gonna have a good time, then.”

Merry Christmas.