Serenity and Progress

Journal Entry Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Last night I found serenity floating like a cork on a quiet lake.  Around 5:30 or so, Chief Worrall, Terry and I drove to Round Pond, about three miles from here.  The two of them got into a fishing boat and set out to catch nothing much, while I loaded onto a small pontoon boat.  Until then, I’d thought of pontoons as vessels designed to keep drinking parties from becoming drowning parties.  My only experience had been with party boats, 10-foot by 15-foot barge-like designs with a waist=high rope around them to make sure drunks bounced back into the boat instead of into the water.  This pontoon is very different indeed.  It’s a one-person vessel with two sealed missile-shaped drums connected by a couple pieces of metal that support a seat.  With an electric trolling motor on the back and a tractor battery on either side, it’s the height of comfort and quiet.  While Chief and Terry moved around the small lake searching for the fish they never found, I left my phone and headphones in Chief’s Jeep, and simply floated hither and yon, listening to nothing and seeing no one.  Although I’ve taken part in “relaxation exercises” in various facilities, on Round Pond last night, I could almost feel the stress flowing out of a small hole in my right heel, like sand coming out of a sandbag.  The two hours I was drifting could have been two minutes or two days.  By the time we left, the sun was going down, the air was noticeably cooler and the shorts and sandals I was wearing got me to shivering in the back of the windowless Jeep.  Of course, we stopped for ice cream.  I focused on the heat of the hot fudge as we drove back to Warriors@45 North.


I talked with my 20-year-old daughter, Libby, yesterday, and had yet another shot of future shock—or at least a realization that the world changes faster than I imagine.  Libby had called my number (603)361-6266), and left a voicemail for me.  This voicemail was transformed into a text, which I still haven’t received, and an email, which I did get the next time I got near WiFi.  Libby’s message had asked me to call her as soon as I got the message, so I asked to use the house phone and called her.  Although we’d talked about communication before I left, she hadn’t really believed I’d be living in a place with ABSOLUTELY NO cell-phone service.  That was as inconceivable to her as the notion of outdoor showers and no flush toilets.  (I can’t wait for her to visit!)  The real kicker was when I told her that email was the most reliable means of communication.

“Email, Dad?  You’re kidding, right?”

“No, Sweetie.  Email gets through right away, but anything else takes time.”

“But that’s so old-fashioned!  I haven’t used email since I was in middle school.”

So . . . this is where we’ve come.  Email is outmoded.  It seems like only yesterday when, as a cutting-edge adopter of Gmail, I’d felt so proud to get each of the girls email addresses that would distinguish them.  I have, and my daughters have, respectively, rebeccahoward, meredithhoward and  I guess that forward-thinking father got them really great eight-track players.


(I’ll be surprised if any of them, or many of you, ever saw a functioning eight-track player.)


While on the subject of my daughters, of whom I am sincerely proud, let me share with you an email I got from Becca, the oldest at 25, and therefore able to remember when email was the cat’s pajamas:


“I have been working late at UNH every night this week, because we are doing a research project in the residence halls where students are testing a video game that is supposed to help incoming freshman learn bystander intervention tactics to prevent violence and sexual assault. I found out that I have four friends from my RA days that are now Hall Directors at UNH…kind of crazy to think about.  When I was walking back to my car last night, I watched all the drunken chaos on Main Street from afar, and it felt kind of oddly gratifying to be a sober spectator.  This is my 7th year hanging out at UNH during opening week, and I think this is the first year that I finally feel like an adult. It’s a good feeling.”


Am I glad Becca is working as a researcher at UNH?  Absolutely.  Am I proud of her work to protect young women from sexual and other assault?  Absolutely.  Am I pleased with her chance to be a sober spectator rather than part of the drunken chaos?  Absolutely I am.

Am I glad she feels like an adult?

Am I glad she feels like an adult?

Am I glad she feels like an adult?

Yes.  But it makes me feel like a man who’s still amazed at the speed of email.


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