Life in the Middle

_W4Q0737 I am not one to tell anyone how to parent, we all do our best - but I try  to point my boys in the right direction and teach them to dare.   I don’t put words in their mouths.  When you ask either of my children what my job is, they will say, “to protect me.”     That is not to say I am not cleaning up a spill or watching disasters in progress.   Just feels so much better when they make their own decisions - often right, sometimes wrong.  Learning from mistakes seems more important than never stepping on a crack.  I am there to protect, not to punish mistakes.

There is this famous scene from the great Harold Lloyd movie, Speedy (1928).     Lloyd goes with his girlfriend on a ride in Coney Island where everyone crowds into the center, the ride starts to spin and the goal is to remain in the middle.   To add to the challenge, there is a wild crab biting everyone in the ass.  I watched that scene with my son, Asher early Saturday morning, and for the rest of the weekend it kept resonating.

Heard from a friend who is having a really rough time.    It is hard out there, and it feels like when things are hardest,  and spinning really fast, you are getting bit in the ass the whole time.   Everything has changed.  It is supposed to change.  We are supposed to evolve and be challenged.  Still.   We need bridges between success and the next step.   Creatives foolishly struggle with the idea of savings.   When your greatest value is your own confidence and inspiration each day, it is hard to relate to how important money is, let alone how to hit the bottom and climb back up.   A lot of us got spoiled in the glory days of NY media.   Read about Kevin Sessums in the Times on Sunday where Tina Brown announced the obvious: “those days are gone.”  People who have lots of money never talk about it.   People who are really struggling can hardly talk about anything else.

Stephie always says the work leads to the work.  She is ALWAYS right.  Especially during transitions.    The work keeps you alive.  The works forces you to explore.  The work can astonish you and bring you to tears.  The work can destroy the biggest wall looming right in front of you.      The work got you here, the work will take you where you need to go. The work gets you in this little car that uses almost no gas and takes you over the bridge. The work is sometimes very generous, and sometimes pays with just a bowl of soup.   Hopefully the ingredients for that soup have just been picked from the field, mixed with herbs and spices, then drizzled with rich olive oil and dill flowers.

I think we need to find a way to support friends who need us without humiliation.   If  you admit failure, even temporarily, will your pond forever be polluted? Financially.   How is that going to work?  Can we kickstart friend’s lives?

I listened to this Fresh Air interview with NY Times reporter, Sabrina Tavernise in the middle of the night.    She talks about how the middle disappears during wartime and all you are left with are the radicals on either side. All the thinkers who consider the big picture take off. If you have time to listen to this interview, follow it to the end.  The final story is remarkable.

Once I was on a private plane from Cleveland to Chicago with some people who fly on the far right.   One of them lambasted me for considering both sides of an issue.  “You are either on one side or the other” he insisted.    “The middle is the place this country of ours has no future.”

He was wrong.   The middle is where we can all share this planet peacefully.  The middle is where you can help your friends get over that bridge.  The middle is the sweet spot Harold Lloyd was the last one to abandon.   The middle is where we meet our opponents to flip a coin.  The middle is where our children see our examples and learn to dare.

A friend was sending his oldest son off to fight in the Israeli army today and I wrote:  “What a beautiful young man Alon has grown into. Stay strong. Be safe. Peace must be somewhere on this earth. Find it.”