Staring Out the Window

We’re all guilty of biases.  It’s in our nature. And one day as your parents, we’ll be guilty of this example of ambivalent sexism. I sure hope you ignore us.

I saw a math / science commercial geared towards parents raising a girl and a boy. From a young age, the two siblings had the same interests in the outdoors and enjoyed the same things.

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They’re busy playing in the dirt. The next scene, they’re a little older and running outside in the grass, but the parents make the girl stop so her dress doesn’t get dirty.  The boy was in blue jeans and he was a mess. The following scene was two young children building a rocket together. The parents had her put down the drill and let the boy do it because that’s “the man’s job” and she might get hurt. Then there’s a scene in high school where the girl is looking at a science fair poster sitting behind the glass case at her school. She pulls out her lip gloss and it shows her using the glass as a mirror, ignoring the science fair poster that has lost her interest because of the social bias that math and science are for boys.

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We really hope we always encourage you to explore the things that interest you so you can decide for yourself who you are and what you want to do with this life.

I could probably end the post here as that’s pretty straightforward, but this post reminded me of something else. The message reminds me of being a kid growing up in Lubbock, TX and driving to the hunting lease in Rotan, TX with my dad most every weekend.

At a little less than 2 hours, I would sit in his dusty truck packed with weapons and ammo sitting in the backseat. The journey seemed like forever to a kid. His window would be cracked so he could smoke his cigarettes, letting the roaring wind from the highway make the Fleetwood Mac songs softly muffled in the background. Even today, as I smell dust, beer or scotch, and cigarette smoke, hearing “You Can Go Your Own Way”, I’m taken back to those trips.

There wasn’t much conversation between us most times, or at least not that I remember. The loud noises and my young voice never really leant itself to much of that. What I remember most about those trips was the silence. Not the socially awkward silence of a first date. Not the deafening silence of being in trouble with your spouse. Not the palpable silence when you’re supposed to say something and you don’t. Not the calming, peaceful silence of nature away from the city. This silence was a thoughtful silence in my mind, all other things blocked out by the ambient white noise.

It was a time when I thought about nothing and everything all at once. When I counted numbers and noticed patterns on the road, tapping my foot as we’d pass each white or yellow highway line break. When I nodded my head or blinked my eyes as we passed the seemingly-perfect separation of dirt between the blossoming cotton rows. When I noticed the purposeful beauty of the trees of an orchard planted by design. When I watched intently as the rain hit the front windshield first, running to the side windows in seemingly chaotic patterns, then wondering if this particular droplet would follow the path of its predecessors or forge a new line, streaming out of view.

I occupied my mind with patterns and numbers, and the why’s and how’s of the seemingly meaningless wonderment that actually help define the meaningfulness of everything.

I would let the swirl of a dust devil take my mind into the clouds and start a streaming consciousness dialogue in my head like the character Molly in Ulysses by James Joyce.

Looking back, those hours in my head formed much of the way my brain functions today. How I write, how I think, why sometimes I seem so cerebral.  It all stems from chasing something I was interested in. Being lost in my own thoughts.

At some point staring out the window all the time became weird or antisocial. I should talk more, interact outside of my head more. I needed to be more like other kids. A conformity bias, I suppose. Today, I probably would have been diagnosed with some social disorder that didn’t exist 25 years ago and be put on medication. But in the heyday of the Greek philosophers, I may have been heralded as one of the great thinkers of the time.

The thing is… Be curious. Be different. Explore your interests, even if they’re only in your head while you’re staring out the window.

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