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Archive for May, 2009

My summer officially starts today.  Work for the season is done, and my summer schedule, if not completely wide open, is at least the next thing to it.

Perhaps a fishing trip with my two girls.

The ice has just began to go out around the edge of the local lakes, and the winter starved fish will be congregating at the open edges for a fresh meal, perfect for little girls to perfect their casting and still benefit from the reward of a catch.

And tasty too.

So why do I have this nagging feeling of guilt?

No, it isn’t really about killing the fish.  While I hate the process of killing something (I’ve been known to release the first indoor mosquito of the season back outdoors), I find great reward in harvesting my own food.  The act of taking a living creature’s life- in order to nourish your own- is for me a spiritual and grounding event.  I hope to share that with my daughters- they need to understand our food often comes from a life taken, not just a meat counter at Fred Meyer’s (grocery store).

No, this has more to do with what I like to describe as a puritanical work ethic- either inherited genetically or beat into my being (not literally) by parents who spent most every free moment of my years growing up trying to get our family on firm financial footing.

I wonder now, a parent myself, if they ever just relaxed and enjoyed a day off?  Or if they, like me, spent all their “downtime” worried about not working?  They certainly didn’t take many down days- if that is any evidence of how much they enjoyed them.

Even though they often didn’t insist my brothers or I participate, neither did we experience the freedom of knowing at week’s end we would have fun time with Mom and Dad.

Mom, Dad- what was that?

Could you repeat yourself?

Oh, ok, I got it, you said :

” Do as we say, not as we do (or did).”

Easier said than done.

I read somewhere recently that unless an adult undergoes significant psychotherapy, they are doomed to repeat the same mistakes their parents made.  Unless my own twisted form of introverted introspection is considered psychotherapy- I’d say to my ten and six year olds I am well on my way to instilling a 7-day a week work ethic (and/or guilt complex- which is worse) upon them.

The truth is, I’ve tried the working-all-the-time-to-get-ahead thing.  It didn’t work.  It made me miserable, my family miserable, and took a toll on my health; not to mention a significant drop in productivity and creativity.  I’ve (we’ve) made big changes and in many cases concessions to move away from that, which brings us full-circle back to today.

How do I shed that snakeskin of guilt that threatens to keep me from enjoying a day (or weekend) off with my girls- without turning to mind and/or mood altering substances?

Once upon a time, a few beers might dull that feeling.  Today that’s neither a dependency I’m comfortable having nor a healthy one.

Oh, sweet oblivion, where is your sweet kiss?

It’s in the smiles of two young children, running on the beach, throwing rocks, teaching things my father and grandfather taught me to do,  enjoying the sun’s caress on a beautiful day, all the while swallowing back the guilt derived from the thought of others doing without and tasks left undone.

It’s in a Saturday morning, in the great state of Alaska, taking advantage of the natural beauty that still surrounds us, and the blessing to be free to enjoy them.

It’s in the thankfulness to recognize these things, and for the time to acknowledge each and every one.

Tomorrow I’ll pack the cooler, the girls.  We’ll go to the store and get those fishing poles I promised them last year- that Grandma and Grandpa sent money for last year.  We’ll get some worms, and suntan lotion.  And bug spray- a can of the non-toxic environmentally friendly kind and another of the paint peeling, genetic altering DEET containing kind (just in case the bugs are REALLY bad).

Then we’ll go fishing.

And I’ll leave everything else behind.  Even if only for a while.

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