My son called me yesterday. He’s excited about the fact that he’s going for it! I have no doubt that the promotion committee (or whatever it’s called) has all the information needed to see that if anyone deserves to become a full professor, it’s Robert.
He had this picture on Facebook to show the mass of his publications submitted to the promotion committee:
My son will be 40 next year. I can see how uncertain–how human–we are no matter what our age.
How the years change our perspective! When I was a 23-year-old married to a man who was 36, he seemed so much wiser, so certain. He was almost 39 when our son was born and 41 when our daughter came into the world. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for him to become a parent again when he already had 3 teenagers from his first marriage, yet he never complained. He changed diapers, rocked his children, and loved them.
Not that Robert’s father didn’t have hopes, dreams, thoughts, feelings and opinions. It’s just that a 20-something looks at 40 as the cut-off between life and death: Somehow, when you slide over life’s continental divide, the lush landscape of youth becomes the desert of life’s decline where all the human traits associated with a future no longer exist.
I now understand that old saying, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Not in terms of the actual “knowledge” but in terms of understanding the human condition–that we are all learning, striving, hoping and dreaming until the day we die. At the end of it all we’re still nothing more than children who are right sometimes, wrong at other times, and there is no one in this world worth worshiping.
What made me think along these lines? I have no doubt that Robert has students who worship the ground he walks on simply because he’s a professor. And yet I don’t look at him as the iconic guru of his particular slice of world knowledge, but as a son just as uncertain as I about what the next day holds.
That ability to see the person and not the persona, the ability to separate the role from the actor, is what I wished I’d grasped when I was 20. After all, what goes down the toilet smells just as bad if you’re a president or prime minister as it does if you’re a peon or a professor.
And as long as I am alive, I will be there to remind him that when you’ve changed a child’s diapers and watched him grow into a man who gets paid for pursuing his passion in life, there’s no way in hell you’re going to think of him as “Doctor”– and that if his father were alive today, he’d be as proud of his accomplishments as I! ♥♥♥♥