I refuse to believe what the news articles say.
That my children’s lives will be worse than their parents’ lives.
That I’m bringing children into a world that is crumbling, burning, ruined.
That there is no hope left.
Instead, I believe that my children’s generation will be more compassionate than any generation that’s ever come before them.
Born into a country full of division, they will learn how to unite, how to speak openly and effectively, how to listen.
Born into a country saddled with trillions of dollars in debt, innumerable problems, they will learn grit and resiliency. They will become innovative problem solvers and pioneering doers.
They are not doomed.
They might not be able to afford McMansions like their grandparents’ generation, but they won’t want to anyway, because they’ll learn that meaning is not found in material possessions.
They might not fill churches the way their grandparents’ generation did, but they will still have faith: they’ll believe in spirits in the trees, connecting to the universe through nature, seeing magic where we never looked. Unlike previous generations, they won’t equate God to a fatherly punisher, but a loving mother, who asks us to nurture Earth and each other.
They might not be able to swim in the ocean without thinking of climate change, unlike the thoughtless generations before them, but they’ll learn to appreciate every moment, never taking for granted nature’s beauty or the presence of loved ones.
Unlike the generations that came before them, my children’s generation will learn to reuse and recycle, to do without, to have enough. They won’t greedily ask for more. They won’t believe lies corporations try to sell them. They won’t believe in standard beauty or one-size-fits all masculinity and femininity. They won’t let products decide who they are; they’ll decide for themselves.
They won’t be divided by petty labels. They’ll learn how to voice their opinions and fight for their rights. The fat cats don’t stand a chance. This generation will be less gullible and more critical. It won’t be long before irrelevant kings and queens are dethroned, branded obsolete.
My children’s generation might not be able to afford college, but no matter — they’ll put colleges out of business. Onto the scam of higher education, they’ll find ways to develop lifelong learning skills without ever setting foot in a sterile, florescent-lit classroom. They won’t shackle themselves to debt over a worthless piece of paper, yet they will be brighter than anyone who came before them.
Things will be different for my children’s generation. But I refuse to believe it will be worse.
Because I know the parents of my children’s generation. We won’t give up. We won’t give in. We have stopped believing the lies of consumerism long ago. We’ve begun to connect to the planet in different ways. Some of our parents have too.
We believe in positivity. We believe in our own collective power. And we will teach our children to be strong.
Our children’s future is bright.
Fear does not guide me. I am filled with hope and positivity.
Because I refuse to believe what the news articles say.
I play music to escape.
When I miss my family, I play Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” album, returning to the safe haven of our 1990’s conversion van, my dad driving, my mom at his side, my sisters and I watching out the windows as we roll through Wisconsin countryside on a family vacation. My dad sings along. My mom passes back snacks. I stare up at clumpy white clouds, like sheep’s wool, imagining unicorns prancing along them. There’s no safer feeling than this. Lying my head against a pillow, I let the sun warm my face, and drift off, Van’s voice lulling me to sleep.
When I’m feeling down, I play Dave Matthews Band’s “Live at the Red Rocks ’95” and O.A.R.’s “Any Time Now” albums, and I am instantly transported to a balmy summer’s day during my early 20’s. Nostalgia washes over my body, waves of bliss. I’m reminded of the lightheartedness of youth: driving in my best friend’s car, windows rolled down, humid air on my bare arms as it ruffles my wild, air-dried hair. We sing so loudly cars driving past stop to stare.
When I need to remember that I have everything I’ve ever prayed for, I play the Once soundtrack, carrying me back to that summer we fell in love. We knew it from the start. A summer thunderstorm, rain pelting against the top of his car, we sit in the driveway and hold hands, listening until robins begin their three a.m. trilling in dark tree branches overhead.
Even when we feel stuck in a moment in time, there are ways to escape. And remember. And realize that right now we are exactly where we’re supposed to be.
One of the hardest lessons humans must learn is to be present. We spend so much of our lives waiting for a moment in time to be over. The school day. The work day. Weeks of heartbreak after a breakup. A winter that has overstayed its welcome. The sleepless night newborn phase. The tantrum-throwing toddler phase. The unemployment phase. The overworked phase.
But every phase makes up what we call our life. This moment is our life.
Simple pleasures allow us to bear temporary, painful moments. Fresh coffee every morning. A sweet treat in the middle of the day. Rays of sunshine sneaking through an angry cloud. Children’s laughter as they play on the sidewalk outside.
Let’s not wish for this moment to be over. Let’s not see our lives only in the future tense. Let’s be here, now. And remember that every moment is temporary.