When I was in college, my grandmother would send me twenty-five dollar checks along with newspaper clippings. There was always a handwritten note with the unarticulated, but deafeningly loud suggestion, that the included articles, if read and followed, would keep me safe and change the direction of my life for the better.
What remains with me, almost four decades later, is a low-grade uneasiness when I’m in a flat-roofed building during a storm.
Sheltering-in-place with three of our children, and more frequent phone conversation with our oldest in California, has awakened my clipping gene.
Clearly, I have arrived at the precise genetic algorithm of age, nature, and nurture.
It’s undeniable; I have a biological urge to share valuable information about positive life skills with my children. I can convince myself that sheltering-in-place is the natural time for these helpful discussions.
With each passing day of confinement, it becomes more difficult to thwart my salmon-up-stream desire to share fun facts, graphs, and gentle suggestions. This urge is most potent when our kids at home are staring into screens while surrounded by mountains of laundry and bio-hazard dirty dishes.
But the real trigger is my twenty-year-old son, home from college with his newly adopted puppy. I rationally understand that he is an adult, and I have no business giving him unsolicited advice. I genuinely want to honor that boundary.
But I can’t help myself.
Just seeing him stand outside, waiting for his Uber Eats delivery, makes me want to find my scissors for the article I read in Science magazine on the post-teen frontal cortex.
The clipping part of my brain is old school and sees no value in emailing or texting. Real knowledge must be in a tangible form, something that can be held and put in an envelope.
I’m thankful for our printer.
Sheltering-in-place makes the clipping process much more immediate, leap-frogging the postal service completely.
I’m thinking of placing a corkboard in a shared space, like the downstairs bathroom. I will start with innocuous inspiring quotes, pictures of the family, and a listicle or two.
Who doesn’t want to read a fascinating, life-altering article while sheltering-in-place?