Thursday, 17 July 2014

Running in the Family


For most of my life, I did not feel as if I had significant physical resemblance to my father. He was always way bigger than me to help such impressions.
Only at the last time I saw him, about a year ago, could I boast to weigh more than him. And on these roughly equal terms I could see how similar we were in shape and stature. It was only after his death that the resemblance genuinely hit me.
I took my father’s collection of driving licences he had collected over the years with me home as something to remember my father with. He had quite a collection of them, licensed as he was to drive almost everything with a motor that one can think of. The main thing I noticed with this collection is how my father's facial expression, as ascertained over the crap quality passport photos features on the cards, is so similar to my own. Even better, it was interesting to see how certain features I have developed over the years match certain features he had developed over the years, too. I can report with much sadness that I seem much older than my father did back when he was my age, but that's another matter; those driver licence photos do allow me a glimpse at what's ahead for me in the future.

My resemblance to my father is not limited to looks alone.
One of the most annoying things about my father’s recent death is that he had left the scene without seeming to have many opportunities to actually enjoy life. He kept his job and was working everyday well into his eighties till a year and a half prior to his death, when his health could not afford it anymore. I was hoping that at least at this period of his life he could have some genuine fun, but that did not happen; instead he spent his last year in hospitals.
It was always obvious my father always was, in most aspects of life, cool, calculated, and quite frugal; it wasn’t in his nature to go for a bit of a splash. That used to annoy me: why can't he enjoy himself by spending some money to make life easier or nicer?
I recall my brother and I frequently exchanging views on how this frugality could spell the end of my father, and in some respects there is evidence that it did. It appears as if once one gets old enough, it is really hard to change one's habits even if one knows there is no more reason for these habits.
However, as far as my father was concerned, our concerns did not matter much; over the years he seems to have established his own pleasure generating mechanisms, and these did not include the normal capitalist society things that come with opening one’s wallet wide. All he needed was a radio or a TV with the news on. Sports? Even better.
The odd thing about this way of life is that as much as I like to criticise my father’s approach, I seem to be well on my way to developing into some sort of a replica. Sure, I don’t know what a radio is anymore and I hardly ever watch live TV, but it does not take much effort to note that I am totally dependent on my Internet connection. Even on holidays, take away my RSS feed at your own peril. Clearly, I’m just like my father before me, even if his comfort came from Reshet Bet while mine comes from Ars Technica.
The obvious question that comes to my mind is the point of it all. What do I gain by being connected to the latest news of my area of interest? What did my father gain? Sure, there is some long lasting wisdom to be had from keeping abreast with developments; over time I became quite the expert on certain matters. Yet I think the obvious answer is that through this habit of ours, both my father and I felt/feel connected with the world – even if we are/were generally unable to do much in the way of making this world a better place.
I guess that feeling of connectivity is important to us social animals, although each of us has our way of achieving it. I take after my father.

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