Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

art is life support January 10, 2013

Filed under: Pondering,Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:54 pm
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Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.  Life isn’t a support-system for art.  It’s the other way around.

Stephen King in On Writing

There is an inter-connectiveness between art and the artist.  Our lives are fuel for art, a touching point, a grounding place, a beginning, but not a support system.  It’s not the scaffold of bones that holds the art in place, because art should not be tethered.  Art flies.

Art becomes the air that intoxicates and enlivens the life. 

Art supports life.

 

drain kids August 14, 2012

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:31 am
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I’m thinking about grown kids and pondering some things I’ve been noticing lately.

First, it seems that a lot of twenty-somethings these days seem to expect that their parents should still be supporting them financially (and the odd estranged spouse who thinks the OTHER spouse should be supporting adult kids who have been poisoned against them).   I’m kind of baffled by this concept.  It seems to me that if you are no longer living at home, if you are healthy, if you are in school, or if you are in a couple, you are definitely old enough to be responsible for yourself.  I observe many who seem to think they’re entitled to a nice house, a nice car, an expensive education, and a large entertainment budget, and that their parents should still be footing the bill for this.

Really?

When do they plan to grow up and be responsible for themselves?

I was married at 21.  Our wedding budget was $1000.  We went to school, scrimped, shopped at thrift stores, had babies, and we never moved back in with our parents.  We couldn’t afford a honeymoon, or even vacations for many years.  We visited our parents.  Now, our parents definitely tried to help us out.  They would always send us home with groceries, baking, canned goods, and even clothing.  But we never would have imagined monthly financial support from them.  They didn’t even help with tuition unless we were paying them back (which we did promptly).

We still earned degrees, bought progressively bigger houses, and eventually went on vacations.   I know it’s possible to do this even now, and know young couples who have a mature and responsible view to their independence.

The drain children alarm me.   I feel particularly for their parents, who are being manipulated by kids who won’t talk to them if they’re not forking over cash.  At the same time, I recognise that parents often like to help their kids and feel good to know they’re giving them a leg up.  When those kids are ungrateful, malicious, or obnoxious, I don’t think there is anything wrong with  letting them live with the logical consequences and to earn their way.  When they’ve been supported, helped, loved and encouraged their whole lives and then are horrible to their parents, I think that is a sign of immaturity that requires some time and distance.  At some point they have to learn what mutual respect looks like.   I’ve heard the, “but then I’ll lose them” argument and I wonder at what point we let our kids make their own choices?  It’s like that poster from the 70s,

If you love something, set it free.  

If it comes back to you, it’s yours.  

If it doesn’t, it never was.

They can leave, and they can come back when they’ve matured a bit and learned to be responsible for their own decisions and budget.  (Or more likely, when they need grandparents to help babysit.)  We do the best we can as parents, but we have to let them go at some point!  They have to be free to make mistakes so they can grow.  They have to be pushed out of the nest even if they sit on the ground peeping frantically, convinced they can’t do it.  We have to force them to learn to use their wings, or they’ll never fly.

What do you think?  Are you a 20-something? Are you supported by your parents?  Are you a parent?  Are your kids a drain?

 

charity and obligation May 1, 2012

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:29 pm
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There are some things that we do because we want to, and just the doing of those things is a pleasure in itself.  We don’t expect recognition, or seek it, and that is quite okay.

Sometimes we have to do things that we’d rather not do, and the only value in those activities is the recognition that it brings.  When you don’t like shovelling manure, you want to get paid for having a ‘crappy’ job!  I don’t mean those days when the scent of manure makes you euphorically pastoral.  I mean the days when it’s a miserable drudge, and you don’t want to do it.  You do what you have to do, and you gather your pay cheque, and use that money to buy something you need or you want.  You sacrifice a little something for the filthy lucre.

Sometimes your sacrifice is your time.  Sometimes your investment is emotional.  Sometimes you go out of your way to help someone when you’d rather be doing your own thing.  You may feel obligated to help out due to friendship or family commitments.  You ‘lend’ a friend or family member $500 knowing  full well that you’ll never see it again.  You make a sacrifice on their behalf, and it’s fine.  You do what you have to do.  It’s not out of line to expect to hear a simple, “Thank you.”  Not marching bands or ticker tape parades, just a simple, “I appreciate your effort.”  It’s nice to have someone recognise that you have helped them out at some personal cost.

I’m staring at my 20 year old couches at the moment, swathed in their dog safe covers, and I’m feeling quite grumpy that I don’t have the replacement ones that I’d been visiting at ScanDesign for 4 years.  I dreamed about them.  They were $10,000.  I visited them a lot, but they were well out of the budget, due to the expenses of the household.  The couches have been discontinued, and so I’ll never be able to get them now.  If I had not been making sacrifices on behalf of someone else, I could have had my couches.  It makes me see sad to realise that I sacrificed my fantastic leather, fully reclining, gorgeous eKornes couches for someone who has turned out to be completely unworthy.

It makes me so upset that I have wasted my efforts for years being helpful and supportive to someone who plainly needed to learn about sacrifice and independence the hard way.  Sometimes when we try to ease someone’s path, we deprive them of experience they need to appreciate the value of their own efforts, and to be appreciative of help when it comes.  I regret this person’s ignorance and attitude, while I mourn the loss of opportunity that I could have given someone who would have appreciated it more (like my dogs or myself).

I confess to being more than a little concerned, because once this person was respectful, kind, considerate, and responsible.    Things change apparently.  I know better, now.  I won’t be offering support any longer.  I’ll cut my losses and I’ll invest where the return is better.

 

 
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