A Fri­day night les­son in hu­mil­ity

GA Voice - - Sometimes 'Y' -

“Within 10 sec­onds of step­ping into my apart­ment, my nephew proved me wrong. My serene ap­proach was in­stantly over­pow­ered by a tran­scen­den­tal tem­per tantrum from a 15-year-old whose only cur­rency is rage…”

I am typ­ing this col­umn on my cell phone, which is a first for me and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I ap­pre­ci­ate the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances that al­low me to do so, but peck­ing out a lengthy es­say on a hand­held de­vice feels like an­other fall­ing rock in what thus far has been a crum­bling 2016.

A few weeks ago my lap­top stopped tak­ing a charge, so I bought a new power cord, then a new bat­tery, and learned that the prob­lem is be­yond ei­ther of those com­po­nents. Un­til I get that is­sue fixed, I’ve been us­ing my out­dated desk­top com­puter, whose hard­ware is too old to han­dle the hidef. porn that I watch, and the ma­chine has started over­heat­ing and shut­ting down af­ter about 15 min­utes.

My tech­no­log­i­cal woes arose while I was in the middle of a health cri­sis that had me prone on my sofa for the bet­ter part of a month. “Cri­sis” may be a dra­matic word for the mi­nor, out­pa­tient surgery I had; but the pro­ce­dure it­self was sand­wiched by ma­jor pain and dis­com­fort, and the news I watched from my couch – a pa­rade of celebrity deaths, the Ge­or­gia leg­is­la­ture’s orgy of anti-LGBT pro­pos­als and the grow­ing pos­si­bil­ity of a fas­cist reach­ing the White House – added to my mis­ery dur­ing the first two months of the year.

“Cri­sis” is a mild de­scrip­tion for my most re­cent chal­lenge of 2016, which cul­mi­nated this past Fri­day night with one of the most in­tensely hum­bling episodes of my life. I found my­self over­con­fi­dent and un­der­pre­pared in a chaotic scene that played out over two hours in the streets of Mid­town, with ap­pear­ances by At­lanta po­lice and men­tal health work­ers from Grady Hos­pi­tal.

Reg­u­lar read­ers might re­call one of my neph­ews and his girl­friend mov­ing in with me this past fall, and get­ting their own apart­ment at the start of Fe­bru­ary. I was op­posed to their plan to bring my old­est nephew, his girl­friend and their in­fant daugh­ter to live with them in their new apart­ment, and I nearly cried when, on the day of the lat­ter’s ar­rival in town, I learned that my 15-year- old nephew had also made the trip from Chicago to At­lanta.

Less than two weeks into their ex­per­i­ment, my older nephew dis­cov­ered how ill-pre­pared they were to serve as guardian for the 15-yearold, and so I rec­om­mended to my fam­ily that he come stay with me in­stead of re­turn­ing to “Chi-Raq.” I un­der­stood my young nephew had an an­gry tem­per and emo­tional out­bursts, but I thought my Zen na­ture and way with words could guide him to a new un­der­stand­ing of him­self and his po­ten­tial.

Within 10 sec­onds of step­ping into my apart­ment, my nephew proved me wrong. My serene ap­proach was in­stantly over­pow­ered by a tran­scen­den­tal tem­per tantrum from a 15-year-old whose only cur­rency is rage, and a few hours later my youngest nephew was on an air­plane to Chicago.

It was a sting­ing re­pu­di­a­tion of my sense of gay-sav­ior-un­cle, and an im­por­tant re­minder that some­one with­out chil­dren (such as my­self ) has lit­tle ground to stand on when cri­tiquing and se­cond-guess­ing the par­ent­ing of those who do (such as my sis­ter). As dis­ap­point­ing as the un­suc­cess­ful in­ter­ven­tion was, there was also lib­er­a­tion in be­ing re­minded that I don’t have the world fig­ured out.

There is value in be­ing wrong – whether about fam­ily, re­la­tion­ships or pol­i­tics – and sift­ing through the crum­blings to search for lessons and hu­mil­ity.

Ryan Lee is an At­lanta writer.

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