January 3, 2011

Dinner Table Conversation

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Home, Work tagged , , , , , , at 7:51 am by Liliana

Sasha, Nena and Sam

Sasha, Nena and Sam

A few nights ago my family gathered around our dining room table.

It was not a large group by our standards: Branka, Joe, Jeff and I were on the adult side of the table; Sam, Nena and Sasha on the young people’s side.

Branka had made fried chicken, curried rice and salad.

The atmosphere was unhurried, light and relaxed. The conversation meandered in all directions. We talked about people’s plans in the new year, resolutions, or lack of both.

At one point, Sasha brought up the question of balancing one’s life, of not getting caught up in the never ending need for more things. Of knowing the meaning of enough. Of the possibility of living in Hawaii and taking pleasure in simplicity and doing what one really wants to do. Of being free.

Nena and Sasha graduated from college last summer, and they are trying to figure out what to do next.

Nena is still looking around, thinking, considering, experimenting with different prospects and possibilities.

Sasha has always been the kind of person who needs a more solid footing. Right after graduating, he got a job as a community organizer. It is a difficult and demanding job, but Sasha has given it all he has and has done well.

When he moved to Ohio, he lived in a tiny studio apartment with minimum amount of furniture. He wore his dad’s suits, which did not fit perfectly.

Now that Sasha got a raise, he moved into a larger apartment. His parents rented a U-Haul truck and transported some nice furniture to furnish the new apartment. He bought a vacuum cleaner and other necessities to take care of his new dwelling.

Then, Sasha bought a number of expensive new suits. He wants to project a sense of respectability and trustworthiness.

Money was spent.

But for a twenty two year old, Sasha is amazingly aware of the slippery slope of life. He has plans. He wants to travel to South America and go to graduate school. He wants to be in charge of his life. But he also sees clearly how easily it is to lose one’s compass and get caught up into the hamster wheal of everyday consumerism.

Nena said that, for her, growing up means participating in the larger experience of one’s community and culture.  To check out and criticize from the sidelines while benefiting from the effort of others, seems like a copout to my daughter.

Sam commented that he could see how easy it would be to forget (or even to learn) what really matters. Full of energy and hunger for life, he delights in pleasures that good things in life can offer. We all do.

How does one know when to stop?

I don’t know.

But I do know one thing. These kids are all right.

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