Monday, March 24, 2003


There is a paradox in good parenting. Children are born and grow for the first couple of years doing what I have spent my entire lifetime trying and failing to achieve: living in the present. Indeed, as a parent, I spend a great deal of my time training that habit out of my son, trying constantly to get him to think far enough ahead to foresee perfectly obvious consequences to his actions. I wish there were a way to do that that didn't also wind up teaching him to live in the future or the past.

Of course, thinking of the consequences of an act is a good thing, a thing required in much moral thinking. But the unintended result is often to teach him not to borrow, as it were, consequences and duties from the future in order to welcome the next moment of the present, but to get him to worry about and even try to live in the future.

There ought to be a compromise, whereby his acceptance of and even revelling in the beauty of what is in front of him diminishes not at all--indeed, where it infects me, too--while his brain can still form expectations about the outcome and moral value of his present actions sufficient to guide him into ever better present-moments, without becoming phantasms that keep him out of the now. But having never achieved anything like such an abandonment to Providence myself, I am saddened to realize that I am much more likely to teach him anxiety and worry than joy and forethought.


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