|Happy Birthday Justin!|
Now you are a teenager. The last image I have of you is of a small child with a spaghetti-stained tee-shirt, unhappy with me and unwilling to give me a hug. Had I been you in your position I’m sure I would have felt the same. Many of the characteristics that give you your energy and drive your passions are also found in your mother but you have behaviors peculiar to me, as well. I found it remarkable how your manner of drawing picked up where I left off when I was your age. You also made a curious facial squint when you became deeply absorbed in a project much as I did for many years. Then, too, there is an irreverent, farcical humor you portray that I once recognized in myself. All and all your mother has provided you a fair basis for the talents of a Mickey Mantle will I’ve offered you a hint of Sid Caesar. Unfortunately you have no idea who these people are so let me just say that I suspect your friends will find your contradictions intriguing.
Of course, my characterization of you overstates the genetic contribution of your mom and myself in deciding your identity. You’ve inherited certain genetic predispositions but where it truly counts then you remain the master of your own course. Despite the beliefs of some modern day behaviorists I remain in the camp of romantics that presume individuals act mostly on the basis of free will. We’d make a dull subject for literature were it otherwise. Still, the number of facets to our complex nature could conceivably provide enough variations that give us the illusion of having made conscious choices when, in reality, events and our own personal history are the more likely determiners of our particular genetic response. If this is true then we are no longer actors upon the stage. We can all be more accurately described as computer avatars representing individuals caught up in an impossibly complex web of variables that determine all human existence. If that is the case then it is theoretically possible to predict the precise nature of the cake you have for your thirteenth birthday and for all birthdays to come. I should caution you now that designing the computer and the program needed to crunch the nearly infinite number of variables required to make such predictions would lead one to inevitable madness.
Need I remind you that any descent into madness on your part is also foreseeable based upon your genetic possibilities in combination with your personal history of reacting to events. A future based on these formulations of human behavior will find no enlightenment in probing our human psyches using the dramatic talents of a William Shakespeare. What amusement could we possibly find in the theater when we are so much better served by consulting computerized actuary tables listing genetic probability responses to the variations of likely events? I know you’re thinking this doesn’t sound the least bit appealing. Doesn’t this mean that when you fall in love you consult your actuary tables to determine the date, time and precise nature of how your relationship finally comes to an end? Isn’t there something to be said for adding mystery to one’s life? I suppose so if you prefer enduring the unexpected heartbreak that may occur in a life that isn’t thoroughly planned. Had you access to computerized fortune telling then you could avoid all those passionate love affairs that wind up going nowhere. Sure you will miss out on all the charged moments of intimacy but think of the time you save. Life can be so much more efficient when you already know everything in advance. What a waste it is not to wring out the greatest amount of productivity in every moment of your life.
I think we will need a new definition for leisure. Some of us may be concerned that our emphasis on personal efficiency may adversely affect the nature of poetry. Quite the contrary. There will be special edition actuary tables dedicated to enhancing our artistic endeavors. Imagine the joy you will experience no longer having to worry about pursuing a creative dead-end. Every stroke of the brush, every conjuring of thought into a sentence can be celebrated as a personal triumph. The Oscar goes to everyone all the time. Now this truly is Heaven on Earth.
I’ve seen the future and already I fondly remember the days when a birthday present contained a sweater in place of the longed-for NFL autographed football. Having consulted my actuary table in determining my life-mate I now fervently wish for her to runoff with my best friend. Remember when life contained surprises? Even the unpleasant ones are now cause for nostalgia. I want you to know Justin, that as your loving Dad, I wish you all the best on your birthday and a few jarring bumps in the road, as well.
Happy Birthday Justin!