Am I the only swinger? No, not that kinda swinger. Maybe over-corrector is a better way to say it. When something doesn’t seem to work or make sense, instead of making a few small changes I will scrap my ideas and start over. Usually I bounce back towards a middle ground at some point, but not always. My sister used to tease me that I was losing square footage by changing paint jobs in the house. I needed to see the full wall covered before I could decide if I liked something. And if I didn’t, I’d re-do the whole thing. The smart decorators get the samples and envision the wall. My imagination and reality are just so far apart, that never worked for me.
Sometimes the kids and I talk about the labels of the generations. It’s sort of like birth order studies, where the first born, middle and last sometimes have certain personality traits from that positioning. I’d agree, generations experience life differently based on the culture they come up in. Of course it varies from family to family how all that works out. My three boys have an eight year spread at the outside, and according to some studies this splits their generation. I’ve seen the first and last child disagree enough to think that they really have different world views. I believe changes in generations have their own problems with swinging like I do. One generation sees the mistakes of the previous one and sometimes over-corrects in an effort to grow. Who hasn’t heard the lament, “When I’m a parent, I’m going to do things differently!”
I think the political field is like this too. The farthest ends of the parties are serious over-corrections from each other. Historically,
the landslide elections come from extreme dissatisfaction from the previous electorate. So far in my life, pendulum swinging has not served me well. I forgive myself because of the combination of my personality type and my,”middle-child-I-don’t-wanna-do-what-“they” -say-I-should,” led me down that road. And we all have to work with what we have! In examining this tendency, I think swinging comes from hurt. When hurt hits, it’s natural to swing around hard in the other direction. The fog of pain blocks the reality of the different set of problems on the other side. The reality is that everyone errs. We hurt each other, then hurt begets blame and blame begets judgement. Round and round we go. Come on, it’s true that no one is perfect, but we are fabulously judgmental creatures.
As a new young parent, I had some ideas on how I wanted to do some things differently than mine did. What I didn’t realize until much later is that every parent errs. It is just a matter of what side you err on. So in birth order, as with generations, the child is born into a different set of circumstances. For self-aware parents, each new child is an opportunity for a parent to improve, or at least try to. There. I just gave away my generation. The one before me probably never used the word combo of self and awareness. Seems repetitive. In some cases, the one before me didn’t necessarily see each child as needing unique parenting either. Raising kids was a one-size-fits-all deal. So I see a pattern of a pendulum. The new generation judges the previous one (guilty) and tries to correct it. The next one laments, “I’m not doing that to MY kids, Mom.” There goes the pendulum.
I’ll admit I’m judgemental AF to anyone who says, “No one is perfect,” when it is being used to cover the reality of the pain our imperfection causes. The times when the expression is used when the appropriate response would be, “I’m so sorry I hurt you!” Drives me insane.
I’d like to think our society could look at the swings in generational thought and ask, “What is this coming from?” Sure, maybe sometimes it is a serious over-corrective mistake from the parents of the generation. But sometimes it is from a reaction to pain. Maybe we could ask the same questions of each other in political debates or family relationships and get to the sources of pain and discontent and help each other out. I’ve learned this the hard way, pendulum swinging causes more problems, but slight changes can have the miraculous effect of propelling our growth forward.
I don’t really know much about the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, but his mother is said to have called him moody, tactless and argumentative, so I think I would have liked him. I find philosophers hard to follow in general but enjoy some of their common themes.
“Opinion is like a pendulum and obeys the same law. If it goes past the centre of gravity on one side, it must go a like distance on the other; and it is only after a certain time that it finds the true point at which it can remain at rest.”
He reminds me that my goal is to live from a place of rest, holding loosely to all the ideas and questions that surround me as I deal with the practicalities of life. Ideally to be a source of strength and love for my family and friends and be at peace.