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The other day my son and I were having a discussion during which it appeared to me that he was being rather negative about a situation so I told him that in keeping with the old cliché, he was seeing the cup as half-empty instead of half-full.
“I see the cup half-full,” he retorted, “I just see it half-full of poison.”
I told him that was a terribly cynical remark coming from a young man who had not been on the planet as long as some of my favorite outfits and I was somewhat appalled.
He responded that instead of being appalled, I should be proud of him since it took only 13 years for him to figure out what was going on instead of 30. “I'm precocious,” he stated.
“No,” I said, “you're obnoxious.”
I pointed out to him that he had neither lived long enough or had enough experience to merit his cynicism.
“Au contraire,” he argued, “I've seen enough and lived through enough to figure out that hardly anything is what it seems, most people are greedy and self-involved, and it is a logical and wise policy not to trust anyone who seeks or wields power or lives in the corporate world.”
“Great Scott!” I exclaimed, “No more Daily Show for you.”
“Don't blame Jon Stewart, he's one of the few people I can stand watching” Chuck said with a sniff.
“Care to explain to me the basis for these jaded conclusions?” I asked.
Oh, I don't know,” he drawled sarcastically, “Shall we do a recap of the past 100 years in history?”
“Let's not and say we did.” I replied. “I think I get what you're saying.”
While I feel good that Chuck is paying attention to what is going on in the world and cares, I also feel bad that paying attention has made him so cynical. I hate to think that he has been robbed of his innocence so soon and so completely. On the other hand, I have never believed that ignorance is bliss and I suppose I should be happy that despite what he has seen in his 20 short years, he is still able to enjoy the things in his life.
Chuck has a peculiar and completely unique way of looking at things and I stopped trying long ago to actually figure them out. One beautiful day we were taking a walk around town and taking pictures to send to his sister in Nova Scotia, when he stopped and took a deep breath.
“What's the matter?” I inquired.
“Nothing,” he answered, “I just realized what I like the most about Maine.”
“What?” I asked.
“The smell,” he said, “the trees and grass and bushes and flowers and water. Maine smells alive. It doesn't smell like the things built by man that pollute and destroy and reek like death. It smells like life”
I didn't feel a response to this statement was necessary. Chuck has always possessed the strange ability to say or do either the most ridiculous or the wisest thing possible in any situation. I never know what to expect; at any given time he can either amaze me or make me groan hopelessly. We continued on our walk and he took pictures of Main Street, the Little League Field, the Civil War Memorial, The old Meeting House, and the river. When we got home he downloaded them to the computer. I took a look at them and was horrified to see that they were all terribly odd, with mutated and elongated shapes and strange effects.
“What happened?” I asked. “Is the camera broken?”
“No,” he told me, “I was going for some surreal and artistic effects. What do you think?”
“I think that it looks like I lent my camera to Salvador Dali,” I said in horror, “The only thing missing is the melting pocket watch!”
Well, I tried to raise my children to think in the abstract. It seemed I succeeded.
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