Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Family

As I’ve gotten older I've noticed that my family seems to have grown further and further apart. I wonder if that’s the way the ebb and flow of family life goes? When I was in my early twenties and my grandparents were still alive we all seemed to get together every weekend at BBQ’s, birthday parties and more. Now, it seems we go months and months without seeing each other. My siblings all have their own families with their own busy lives so time together is harder and harder to find.

It’s really makes me sad, actually, because it seems time moves on and no one really stops to see that we aren’t going to be around forever…that there will come a day that we will look back and wish we had stopped and smelled the roses and appreciated each and every family member for what they have brought to us. But… by then, it will be too late.

I recently reread a passage (Chapter 2) from “Families” by Anderson’s father, Wyatt Cooper. He’s wondering what happened to the family?

They are saying these days that the family is finished, at least as we have known it. That’s a sad and lonely thought. I suppose they may even be right. Everything passes. Other venerable institutions have vanished. Civilizations fall. Worlds end. Gods, even, have died and are dying, so there is no real reason to think that anything lasts forever.

Wyatt goes on to talk, at length, about his family. Here are some of his conclusions…

The family arena was a battleground on which some skirmishes were lost and some were won; it was a place where rages flared and hatreds blasted, but we cared and we kept track. The family was a community, and once you found your place in it, you were armored for citizenship beyond it in the great Family of Man.

But they tell us now it’s all over. New ways are going to be found. The fashion these days is for change, and the rush for change, the race for the new, is so frantic, the pace so accelerated, that the less venturesome among us can get quite dizzy even standing still and looking on. We hear and read daily about startling new breakthroughs, new life forms and styles, new quick cures for sick souls, new “fun” treatments for ailing lives; and nobody asks what happened to yesterday’s miracle discovery. It would seem, with all the new announcements, that all our problems should have been solved with last evening’s edition of the newspaper. Instead, we look about and see our neighbors standing in shock, exhausted from the running, neck-deep in “How to Discover Your Real Self” books, panic and hunger visible in their eyes, sadly clinging to the hope that tomorrow’s pill will make everything right.

It won’t, and there’s no reason why it should. Our lives are trial and error, joy and sorrow, work and rest, some peace and some turmoil, and our happiness consists of living the good and the bad, of keeping our wits about us, of holding onto a little pluck, of cherishing those things that embellish life and rejecting those things that diminish it. The nirvanas and promises of instant gratification being merchandised these days have about as much substance as the enlightenment of those rich ladies who tell you they went to India for two weeks and found “this marvelous peace” while gazing out the windows of the air-conditioned hotel, presumably past the bodies of dying babies in the streets.

Individual fulfillment is all the rage now. One’s loyalty is only toward one’s own self-realization. We read almost daily, sometimes in admiring account, of mothers and father who, encouraged by their therapists and their envious friends, announce that they are renouncing all prior commitments (made before their consciousness got raised) and are belatedly setting out to find their true roles in the world. Their bewildered and abandoned children are on their own. God knows what is supposed to happen to their fulfillment, their sense of worth. Where are these children expected to find that sense of identity their newly liberated parents are out beating the bushes for? The mind boggles.

Chaos remains chaos however cheerfully it may be disguised as freedom

Let us, then, spare a few worlds in praise of the family before we casually wave it away into extinction; this battered institution that has enabled us to survive all these centuries, and provided the climate, the nourishment, and the soil from which man’s greatness has sprung, let us, at least, take a look at what it has been or what, at it’s best, it has aspired to. Let us reflect upon it’s failings and it’s accomplishments; let us examine it’s past and it’s possibilities.

Sometimes it does feel like the family is dying but maybe that’s just from where I sit in life. Maybe it’s meant to be that way? The older we get the less time we have. Wyatt seemed a bit ahead of his time talking about how hectic life is and will get. He couldn’t have been more right even though he didn’t live to see how much worse it would get.

I guess my point is… stop and smell the roses. Don’t take your family for granted and don’t stop realizing that nothing is more important than those people that are there for you. Whether it’s the family you were born into or a family you made, don’t forget to take time to appreciate them all!

******ATA FAMILY NEWS*****

And on that note, we like to welcome a new member of our family! Everyone welcome Cyn to ATA! She’s the owner of THE Michael Ware blog and will be contributing to ATA a few times a week.

Also, we here at the ATA family would like to wish Sheryn a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY on Monday! We’d like to take a moment to appreciate her hard work and hope she has a wonderful day.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

*Disclaimer* We are using a small excerpt of this out of print book under the Fair Use act. This excerpt is less than the amount legally allowable*


Anonymous said...

A very happy birthday and big hugs Ms. Sheryn! May all your birthday dreams come true!

Purple Tie...very nice post. I think that it takes much more effort to keep families together these days. It seems that everyone, including kids, have much more hectic schedules. But family time is so's worth the effort that it takes to make it happen.

It's nice to see a bit of Wyatt's book. I love how he writes and he certainly had some wise words to share.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Ms.Sheryn! I think you do a wonderful and thorough job on this blogsite. Your attention to detail and passion for politics amazes me! On another note, I for one do not take my family for granted, as a single mom, I thank God for my family almost every day.

ACAnderFan said...

Happy Birthday Sheryn!!! I hope that you have a great day and are able to do something that you enjoy :)

Great post Purple Tie :) I love Wyatt's style of writing. Very vivid and descriptive. It does take alot to keep a family together, and most seem to not want to put the effort in. Just the other day my parents and I were talking about the last time we saw my cousins. The last time we saw them was Christmas Eve. It's not like they live far away either. They live like 20 minutes away, but everyone is just so busy and no one really makes time.

It seems like years and years ago people used to make time to see their family and now days it's like see them when you can. So sad.

Evelyn said...

PT thanks a million for that excerpt from "Families." I can really see where Anderson gets his personality and his writing style. What an impact Wyatt has made on his life.

A very warm and inviting welcome to Cyn! I enjoy your posts and I'm looking forward to hearing from you in the future!

Happy birthday Sheryn!! I hope you have a day as magnificent as you are! May all your wishes come true :)

cactuskid said...

Happy Birthday, Sheryn! Hope you have a wonderful birthday today and thanks for all you do!

Welcome to ATA, Cyn! Glad you decided to be a contributor and look forward to your posts.

That was a thought provoking post, PT. Years ago families often lived in the same town and were closer knit. Now smaller towns don't have the jobs and people are having to move away to make a living. It is sad that we live in such a hectic world and lifestyle that people don't make more time for one another. And to really spend the time to get to know one another. In the end family and friends is what is most important and who will be there to stand by you no matter what. I think Wyatt was a very smart man to value his family so.

Sapphire said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Ms. Sheryn!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you get everything you asked for and I hope your day is topped off with a snarky Anderson filled with Andergiggles tonight :P

An offical welcome to the ATA family Cyn, so glad we convinced you to join us,.

Fantastic post Purple Tie. Very timely and just great all around. Great photos too.

This is OT but in regards to a question put on post from the other day. The PIP website says that outside of the US, PIP will be playing on Oct 24 & 25. So that is when it will be airing in Malyasia. Hope I answered you question TigerTina!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday and a big hug Sheryn!!
On 19th it will be my birthday too; I already plan my party inviting all my friends and stuff, I hope I'll have fun and not thinking that I'm older now lol.

Anonymous said...

I wish you very, very Happy Birthday, Sheryn. Hope you have a good one.

Since my own family gone, I used to spend time constantly with my cousin's family. We grew up together. And now, they have their own families and have kept them busy. I rarely see them except Holidays. If you are single, it is difficult for not getting in touch with families. I am still moving on but hate to use the word "lonely single woman at NYC". Sometimes, you feel that way. But I tried not to.

You are right, Purple Tie. Things change since 20 or 30 years ago.

Thank you for sharing Wyatt's wisdom. I'll remember that.

Hearing impaired gal

Jennifer said...

@ Purple Tie, I enjoy reading your post you did a great job,

@ Sheryn, I want to wish you a Happy Birthday. Hope you have a great one!!!!

@ Cyn, Welcome to the ATA family.

Nebraska Fan said...

Anon 10:38

I have to completely agree with you. I am also single with no kids. The natural order of things is to have your grandparents, parents, aunts & uncles, etc. be your family, and then as they pass away, the younger generations become your family. When you don't have children of your own, the cycle kind of stops. I read Wyatt's book and parts of it were very difficult for me, because I find myself yearning for family, but for me it's still the older generations, many of which are gone. So it's interesting how your definition of family changes, or doesn't change, as your circumstances do. Some psychologist somewhere should do a big study on that and write a book!

Sheryn said...


Thank you so much for your warm birthday wishes! You have certainly made my day all the brighter!

On the subject of Families, I loved reading Wyatt's book. His accounts of family gatherings and his view on fatherhood is wonderful to read. He was certainly a talented writer and I feel fortunate to have found a copy of the book.

I hope you are all having a great day! -Sheryn

Em said...

I've heard so much about Families and have been wanting to read it but it is still going anywhere between $175 and $475 per copy on eBay so I really appreciate the excerpts. I have many thoughts on Families. I know my family has changed so much through the years. It does seem to me that we are running so fast we don't make as much time as we used to for each other. It makes me feel a little sad. I've also noticed in my family that when one sibling gets a divorce, it starts to change the entire family. With the divorce rate being what it is, I imagine that has had a big impact as well. I was also thinking of all this wonderful technology that I love. It should make communicating easier but I have noticed since my Mom and Dad went online, we don't really communicate as much. We used to talk to each other on the phone at least once or twice a week for an hour. Now, we seem to send little emails more frequently but don't really "communicate" as well. My son hooked me up with a webcam before he left for Amsterdam. We are loving I get to use my little gadgets and look at my kids at the same time...Heaven! I think I'll take one to Mom when I go up to visit. It is much better than e-mail or IM! IMHO the excerpts from Wyatt's writing indicate that he was a truly sensitive intuitive person. Thanks again for the excerpt and for reminding me to pay a little more attention to people I care about!

And finally.....


Anonymous said...

@ nebraska fan

Thank you for giving me your advise. I really appreciate it. Are you the fan of the "Sex and the City"? The TV show was hilarious.

Hearing impaired gal

Nebraska Fan said...

Hearing Impaired Gal,

No - believe it or not, I have never watched that show. I also have never watched Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy, for which my family thinks I'm totally nuts. But I love Lost!