Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Bridging the Generation Gap

“Who is the audience for this thing?” my 91-year-old father asked, clearly perplexed.

I had my laptop out, and I was kneeling beside him, scrolling through my weblog, stopping at items I’d written that he might like. He awkwardly leaned forward to read through his trifocals, and I kept adjusting the angle of the portable screen. “Can you see it?” I asked, “because there might be a glare…”

He was impressed that readers could quickly post their responses to whatever I’d written. “Isn’t that marvelous!” he said. But since he derives all his knowledge of the World Wide Web from “Wall Street Journal” articles, and since he has never answered an email or gone online, he doesn’t really know what a blog is.


His question about my audience was important though, so I tried to answer it.

“Well,” I said, pausing to arrange my chattering thoughts, “there’s a vast and growing group of people who…um, they may be Christian, or they may be Jewish, or they may be anything, but they have an avid interest in spirituality. They want to experience daily some kind of observance or, well, the word ‘ecstacy’ might be too strong, but…”

I feared I was tanking, but I could see that he was still listening intently.

I went on to say: “These people I’m addressing may or may not attend a religious service weekly, BUT they want to tune into a spiritual side of themselves every day through some kind of contemplative practice, so I’m there, with my column, to support them or give them ideas.”


“What is a contemplative practice?” he asked sensibly.

“Well, I’m referring in part to Asian or Eastern contemplative practices like meditation, but also…” I cleared my throat.

“Oh,” my father sat back with a Presbyterian huff. “I really don’t think that Asian stuff is going anywhere.”

“Oh, no, Dad! No, no, no. It is! Look at all the ladies doing yoga in their church basements!”

He wasn’t convinced. But he liked my blog, or professed to.

He was born at a time when horses still pulled the neighborhood fire engine. He lost two younger brothers in World War II. He worked at a job for many years that didn’t fulfill him. He didn’t notice his kids until we forced him to.

But yesterday, I saw him reaching out to me, leaning forward through the decades, trying to understand what I do. He was especially glad that I loved my work, that everything seemed to be congealing for me as a writer. I have a purpose. He could see that.


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posted January 3, 2007 at 9:41 pm

How lucky you are! My father died in 1979 on Jan. 15. I wish that he could have seen me go back to school at 40, and get a decent job as a secretary at a local Community College. I think that he would have respected me for overcoming many obstacles to become the person that I am today. Treasure your father. Tell him that you love him every day. I lost my father when I was 16. Please appreciate yours.

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posted January 9, 2007 at 11:24 pm

I took my mother (79) and father (82) on a trip this fall. We went from Montana to West Virginia, through Missouri and back to Montana. My father commented on how the world has changed, and told me if he would have known how important computers were going to be, he would have learned how to use them. He and I have an agreement, the next time I get to be with them, I will teach him. Way to go, fathers! I love their inquiring minds.

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