Apr. 26th, 2017

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In the morning yesterday, RTT contacted me about making money – did I know any quick ways?

Sadly, I don’t.

We chatted for 20 minutes or so.

Back from the D.C. Science march, he is hideously depressed.

“I have zero interest in my field,” he said. “Literally zero. I'm not going to get a job in my field, and I have no interest in pursuing one. I don’t have any motivation for anything.”

“I wish I had gone to Purchase for writing,” he added, and I thought, Well. Yeah.

Purchase had been my idea. It seemed like such a natural fit for RTT. Edgy. Artistic. Close enough to NYC to elicit mentorships from muy successful practitioners of artistic edginess. I was floored when RTT decided to pursue environmental studies and forestry at Syracuse. But what could I say? I’ve never been one of those parental types who goes all hard-line with my kids about the choices they’re making. Maybe I should have been. But that’s completely alien to my nature.

So, instead I said, “It doesn’t benefit you in the slightest to second guess those kinds of things. What you have to do is to try and understand why you made the choice you made, and when a similar situation presents itself in your life – and trust me, it will, it will – make a different choice.

“And anyway, remarkably few people end up getting positions in their fields. You’ve learned skills that are highly transferable. Plus… you have something that very few people I know have: You’re charismatic, people naturally gravitate toward you, and you’re a genius at networking. Once you figure out a way to leverage that, you’re golden. But you’re gonna have to leave Ithaca to do that.”

“Meh,” said Robin. “I’m just tired of everything.”

“I get it,” I said.

“I dunno if you do,” he said.

###

But, of course, I do.

I wasn’t always the kindly, eccentric senior citizen you see before you now, I long to say.

He’s never gonna see that.

Parenting is just such an odd relationship to have with someone.

The other party in the relationship is never going to see you except as some sort of archetypal monster.

You, on the other hand, see them in 20 different dimensions, most of which have not yet been invented by either science or art.

It’s so much easier to have a relationship with a cat.

###

This conversation hung heavily over the rest of the day, which was dark and rainy to begin with, and progressed to include a conversation with a hideously rude IRS factotum (that literally could have been a Lily Tomlin routine), a stab at getting mileage reimbursement from the absolutely incomprehensible TaxBwana administrative website, plus many hours toiling in the Scut Factory salt mines.

Nothing is harder for a parent than knowing your child is in pain – and that your options for relieving that pain are limited.

In the evening, I had an executive conference call with the other RTT parent.

“I’ll pay his rent,” Ben said.

“Good,” I said. “This is a bad month for me money-wise – my car needs a lot of work.”

[Insert 15-minute conversation about CV axles.]

Then Ben began talking to me about this fascinating NPR story he’d heard on the neurobiology of reincarnation.

“They’re speculating somehow that consciousness may be a quantum phenomenon,” he said. “That it’s like an electric surge, somehow, that attaches itself to biological brains.”

“Wow,” I said.

“And these vivid past life memories only show up in very young children –“

Yes,” I said.

Because I was one of those children.

I’ve written about this on these very pages many times before.

And of course, I can no longer remember those memories: I can only remember having had them.

But they were very vivid: I’d been living in India, so at the age of two or three, it was very, very difficult for me to fathom that I was now Patty and that I was living in this weird place called New York City.

Fifteen or so years ago, I told Heidi about these memories. Heidi is into the woo-woo stuff, but she’s also extremely pragmatic. She fixed me with her flat blue eyes and asked, “You were an abused child, weren’t you?”

Oh, yeah,” I said.

“Likely then what you were experiencing was dissociation.”

Huh, I thought. Likely, she was right. It fit: Abused children do dissociate, and dissociation has been my ego defense mechanism of choice throughout my adult life. In fact, I’ve often thought my sense of humor – which is one of the traits I like best about myself – is just a very sophisticated dissociation mechanism.

But Tucker’s work is making me rethink that.

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