Friday, October 28, 2005

2005: Twenty-Seven More Than Ten

Peter-Julian-HayleyMy niece, Hayley, came down from Oregon to stay with Julian and me for a week this summer. I was looking at this photo of the three of us today and suddenly saw her differently: I noticed so clearly the wonderful person she was becoming, and the great love she has for life.

Hayley is my younger brother’s first daughter. She’s 10 years old and loves Acai Supercharger™ smoothies from Jamba Juice…as do I. Her younger sisters, Brooklynn and Kendall, are ages 3 and 1, respectively.

Hayley tries hard to do well in school. Fortunately for her, she can’t help it: her parents are intimately involved in her schooling, and my sister-in-law, Hayley's stepmother, even teaches third grade. (Involved parents make a world of difference.)

I learned a lot from Hayley while she was here with us in Los Angeles. She was experiencing her surroundings—our surroundings—with eyes and ideas that were fresh. That made me see my own life differently.

She wanted to know where our house was in relation to the rest of the world; why she couldn’t just eat Fruit Loops all day; how far away Disneyland was; and why she couldn’t have a cell phone (“All my friends do!”). And I wondered what it might be like to be a 10-year-old today.

When I was ten, we had Atari and a Commodore 64 from Radio Shack; kids today have PlayStation2 and iBooks from the Mac Store. We had roller skating rinks; they have paintball fields. We had 13 channels; they have 500 beamed from a satellite in outer space!

But we also had the Space Shuttle Challenger, and 10-year-olds today had the Columbia. We had the threat of thermonuclear attack by the Russians, and they watched airplanes actually fly into New York City skyscrapers. At the movies we had Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and they had Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. We had Tootsie Pops, and they…well, some things don’t change.

Today I recognized that Hayley is growing up in a world not entirely dissimilar to the one I experienced as a kid. Many of the “things” around us are different, more advanced and technological, as is the case for every new generation. (That’s the result of living freely amidst vast opportunity, and working hard to achieve our personal goals.) Yet the people themselves are basically the same. We all want to enjoy a good life; we all expect a good day’s pay for a good day’s work; and we all want a better life for our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews than the one we had.

With everything that has changed around us, those things haven’t. And for that, I am grateful. Thank you, Hayley…you’ve inspired me, and I love you.

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