OPINION: We are wed to change
Free Press Opinion Columnists
HE SAID: My dear, the amount of change in our lives right now is on overload. We might be baby boomers, but we were late bloomers in having our children. As a result, our contemporaries are celebrating the birth of the latest grandchild, just as our children are getting married. I just didn’t expect it would happen all in one month with a wedding tomorrow along with the surprise elopement of the eldest 10 days ago. My father genes are in a state of shock.
SHE SAID: Your wallet is in a much larger stage of shock. Who would have thought that silk flowers and wedding photographers would cost so much? At least our daughters were able to put their planning expertise to good use on the details. Now, at this stage, all we can hope for is that everything goes as planned along with a royal blue Colorado sky for the ceremony.
The other thing I hope for is that our daughters and their husbands will look beyond the hype of the weddings and see the changes that entering into the commitment of a marriage will bring. We had not a clue 44 1/2 years ago of how much compromise, discussion, and work it takes to keep a relationship vital and meaningful. Our society does not provide much in the way of tradition to make that transition.
Programs like “Say Yes to the Dress” are sick. I want to drag some of the brides-to-be aside and explain to them that a good marriage is not guaranteed by the $250,000 reception, a chocolate fountain at the reception, or a $5,000 dress. Obnoxious over-indulgence is evolving as the American tradition for marriage. Sure the pictures and memories, good or bad, will last a lifetime, but it is the love, consideration and desire to have a partnership with the other person that is more lasting. That being said, I am terrified of the wedding pictures since I rarely photograph well and I do not want my non-photogenic mug to ruin any shots. Maybe I should have purchased a tooth whitening regimen last week.
HE SAID: Well, in all these years your tendency toward self-deprecation still continues despite all your wonderful accomplishments. Our children are going into a world that is changing more rapidly than ever before. Their lives are subject to Moore’s Law: “The number of things keep growing faster all the time.” From faster computers to faster means of transportation like vacuum tube trains to smaller and faster ways to communicate, they may come to assume that change is what life is.
Our generation can remember the first TV and stereo record players using LPs, colored film for cameras, and the advent of jet passenger planes. Heck, tooth whitening was in a realm outside our control when we got married. Just because you can, does not mean you need to do it! What will our grandkids remember as unique to their generation? Their brains may have to change to deal with all this change.
SHE SAID: Our brains are changing, according to experts. The hippocampus, the brain’s center for memory and spatial awareness, is larger in most people now than it ever has been. It has increased in size because of all the extra stimulation in our lives. A study found that people who are taxi drivers in London have larger-than-normal hippocampus to remember the street grids. Studies have also found that constant stress or traumatic experiences can shrink the hippocampus.
As we age, those areas of the brain can shrink because they are not used enough and we do not learn how to manage stress enough to keep the brain cells from being destroyed by cortisol. So instead of stressing about change, we should embrace change, physically as well as mentally, just like the newlyweds will no doubt be embracing tomorrow.
The more we learn from others who are entering our lives through our children, the more our brains will prosper. If we do not use those brain cells, we will lose them. Hmmm, that would make a cool science-fiction book plot — recapturing lost hippocampus cells from others and manipulating them.
HE SAID: As you ruminate about change and sci-fi, maybe we should alter things around here by working together to remove the accumulated clutter from our years together. That would be a change.
The Skinners hope you have time to nurture your loved ones as well as your brain cells. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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