Mike Jung

Brothers

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2014 at 10:23 pm
I spent the weekend with my brother and his family, which (as always) got me thinking about our different life trajectories. Both of my brothers and I are pursuing creative lives to some extent; my older brother, who was the most creatively disciplined of us all in our youth, has yet to break into any of the creative profession fields; my younger brother, who initially didn’t seem to have any plan at all, is a wealthy Hollywood screenwriter, and is clearly the most accomplished of the three of us, at least when applying the traditional measures of success; and then there’s me, the early prodigy who stumbled, fell, nearly stayed down, and ended up becoming the late bloomer.

I try not to play the comparison game, which of course is nearly impossible, given the fact that I’ve had these two brothers for nearly 45 years now. The old psychological dynamics and triggers are hard to escape without severing the connection entirely. Still, I may finally have grown and matured enough to feel more securely anchored in my own life, my own pace, my own experience. My life is far from perfect, but then that was going to be true no matter how events unfolded. I haven’t scaled the mountaintop in some of the ways my younger brother has, but I managed to scrabble and claw my way out of the crevasses I’ve occupied in the past.

My life trajectory seems to point up, at long last. I may not measure up to the standing and benchmarks of other people in the world, but my many “failure to launch” years finally seem to be over, and no matter how complicated it is to have those thoughts and feelings agitated (as they inevitably are in the presence of my brothers), I’m moving forward now. It’s a relief to be able to maintain an active awareness of that, rather than watch it sink miserably into a big old cesspool of anxiety and regret.

Sometimes people disagree with me

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I don’t constantly post stuff that’s political in nature, but I’m not terribly shy about it. People respond, of course, and it’s been interesting to discover who among my FB friends disagrees with the things I post, and in what way. That should be expected, I suppose – my FB friends collectively skew in the politically progressive direction, but it’s a big old world. People have lots of different opinions. So I’ll discover that specific people I already like, respect, and previously knew only in a writing-related context have ideological differences with me, sometimes in ways that I’d probably have to work very, very hard to get past if I wanted to try and establish a NEW friendship. But in these cases, the friendship is already there, and thus far the newly discovered differences in opinion haven’t affected my feelings of friendship and affection for the people who hold those opinions. It’s not a large number of people, but it’s not zero either. That’s a good thing, right? I think that’s a good thing.

Toughness

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2014 at 8:21 am

I’m not naturally tough in the way our society tends to define it, which has been a complicated thing throughout my life. I’ve experienced plenty of moments in which an ability to step up and be confrontational, respond forcefully to aggression, and not turn the other cheek would probably have been a good thing. These days I worry about it most in relation to my son – he’s a sweet, gentle, affectionate boy, and we live in a society that does not value those qualities in boys and men. Our society celebrates and rewards the alpha male who takes what he wants without asking, conceals emotion and stiff-arms vulnerability, and stands with a fist. I’ve never even come close to being that kind of person. I believe I can teach my son kindness and generosity, at least in the flawed and sputtering way I do everything, and I believe we need more men of kindness and generosity. However, I don’t know how to teach him toughness that intersects with kindness and generosity in a way that mirrors my values; I really don’t know how to teach him toughness in any way. That worries me.

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