Wednesday, May 25, 2011

just get a new one...

My older son took on the sullen, scoffing tone that teenagers are so adept at when I said I wanted to get the old bike fixed. It had a couple of shot tires, a kick stand out of alignment and various other minor ailments. "Who cares about it?" he asked. And the implication was that it was old and hardly ever got any use and, if anyone wanted a decent bike, all they had to do was go out and buy another one.

Kind of like mine.
This is the kind of attitude that can infuriate parents ... especially ones who remember when the sort of bike getting fixed was a real Cadillac among bikes. The bike man told me, when I dropped it off this morning, that even today, cleaned up, the bike would bring a couple of hundred bucks. An old Raleigh, built in England. "It cost $89 at the time when other bikes cost $39," the bike man said. It has a three-speed gear shift in an age when other bikes have more speeds than anyone could possibly use. When it came off the assembly line, no-gears and fat tires were the norm and climbing hills was no mean feat. But you blessed it anyway because it got you from here to there more quickly.

Just go get a new one.

But of course new ones turn into old ones and endless expenditures on the "new ones" of life can get pretty old. I doubt that my attitude was much different from my son's when I was his age. And I don't begrudge him an ignorance he will have to grow out of ... though, like all parents, I do wish I could save him the trouble of learning that piling up "new ones" lacks the kind of relaxed satisfaction that anyone might wish for. I would like him not to be as dumb as I was. But telling doesn't work. Learning works.

New ideas, new friends, new jobs, new circumstances, new clothes, new loves, new shoes ... all of it shiny and quite an addition. New stuff ... woo-hoo. New stuff that becomes old.

I don't have any new answers for old questions. But I do think that paying a bit of attention pays dividends.

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