Born on this date, in 1922

I just dashed outside to bring some bottled water in from the car. Im working a late night, and am far from home. The wind was blustery and the rain started to fall, and I was energized. I think I even said aloud, “Bring it on!”

Being away, things feel different. Full of possibilities. And new experiences. And how things change and keep changing. With the thunder rumbling, I remembered how I used to crawl into my dad’s lap as a kid to hide and be comforted, because I was so afraid of storms.

This reminded me today is his birthday. I say “is”, even though he passed away in 2000.

I felt peaceful as I thought back on who I am because of John Herilla. I thought about growing up on the farm, having everything at the dinner table as a result of the time and care put into the gardens and with the animals.

I used to think of him as being a tyrant, but in him I observed the strongest work ethic I have ever witnessed, and conservation of resources. I used to be so upset about not being allowed to have money to buy toys or new clothes, but I never experienced the likes of the Depression that had taught him to conserve out of necessity.

I really wish I could talk to him now that I am older and have learned some lessons. To get his take on things.

I feel very lucky to have been able to know him and his way of life. I miss him. And although I think I might be able to relate to him on a deeper level, I think I kind of know the reaction he would have knowing I am in love with someone who has blue hair. Even though dad was very intelligent, I dont think he would be able to understand.

Related to the thoughts on my dad, lately I have been obsessing over the decline of our society, into robots who just make money to buy stuff, to feed into the chain of consumables. I had been thinking of this before, but the online cartoon Story of Stuff – by Annie Leonard really does an interesting job of explaining it. She quotes Victor Lebow from 1955:

Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and his individuality in terms of what he wears, drives, eats- his home, his car, his pattern of food serving, his hobbies.

These commodities and services must be offered to the consumer with a special urgency. We require not only “forced draft” consumption, but “expensive” consumption as well. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption. The home power tools and the whole “do-it-yourself” movement are excellent examples of “expensive” consumption.

I don’t know how our society is going to change in my lifetime, but I am glad I was able to witness how my dad operated given his experience.

If he was still alive I would not bother trying to buy him new shirts or socks. I would spend time talking to him. I had sat with him in hospice running out of things to talk about. I wish I could get that time back. Or better yet, take him to a place I know of in West Virginia, where there is no cell service, but beautiful scenery and seemingly untouched by pollutions and poisons. I would tell him I know its going to be a struggle at times, but in a few ways, I now want to be more like him.

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