“The Pain of Progress”

I read this phrase in reference to a theme in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and it struck me deeply. It explains so much, including the world we are living in now. Because I follow the news, I can often fall into pessimism when I look at the world today, which is why I choose to read and view only light, humor-filled, man-conquering-obstacles, uplifting stories. The backlash against voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, the environment, and the state of war (invasion), poverty, income inequality, and racial relations can cast me into darkness from which I find it difficult to climb, so my entertainment requires something that will let me escape from reality.

I get it. People my age are terrified because the world is undergoing a major shift that is foreign to their world view. It’s a good shift. It’s a great shift. Most of the younger generations, especially the youngest, don’t think in the same way my generation does. They are more pliable, more open, more fair, more accepting. I honestly believe once this old guard is gone, things will get better (except for the minority whom they were able to poison) in general. There are some of us old people (and, yes, I do count myself as one) who can and are willing to learn and bend and rethink, but sixty plus years of thinking in one way is difficult to overcome for most people. It takes work, effort, and an admission of, well, if not guilt, then at least that you were wrong. Admitting failure and ignorance is sometimes the hardest thing to do.

I’m not excusing my generation. I despise that some people are hanging on to their old tenets with tenacity, closed-mindedness, and stubbornness. Power is one motivator. Power is heady and addictive. And corrupting. They don’t want to lose it, and they see the only way to hang onto it by riling up fear. Speaking of which, fear is another motivator. They fear being obsolete or irrelevant, and that their actions and legacy will be viewed cruel, inhumane, and short-sighted. (We all are still struggling with how to accept that historical figures can be both amazing and horrible at the same time—our founding fathers, for example). Greed is another motivator. That one pisses me off the most.

It’s far easier to NOT think for yourself and parrot the loudest, most powerful “leaders.” Thinking takes work, and ideas are often scary. Making changes in how you live isn’t easy. Accepting that the life you expected you or your children would lead won’t follow your plan means giving up on a dream. Acknowledging that the way you think is wrong hurts. Progress is painful.

Arizona sunset from a dirty car window on my way to a volleyball tournament where we won gold.

I’m trying to choose to be optimistic. I try to find joy and beauty where I can, and I love the hell out of those I love. And I open myself to learning and rethinking. I make mistakes (unlearning pronouns is HARD), but I make the attempt. And I need a haircut. Why is that so hard to do?

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Jhereg by Steven Brust

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The Strange Case of the Alchemists’s Daughter by Theodora Goss