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Mobility Generation: A Father’s Day Epistle

My daughter graduated middle school this week. Sitting in the warm gym, listening to a very articulate 8th grader deliver the commencement address, I found my mind wandering down other paths. Traditionally, I think, this was the moment when flashbacks of your little girl as a baby come to mind: digging out our driveway in Connecticut in her first psychedelic snowsuit; in a mask and fins in Maui pointing at a colorful butterfly fish 10 feet under the surface; bouncing in a tube along Lake Tahoe behind a motorboat. It was that classic moment in every father’s life when Jerry Garcia’s Touch of Grey hits home.”It’s a lesson to meThe deltas and the east and the freezeThe ABC’s we all think ofTry to give a little love.”When Cathren went to middle school, she decided to enroll in a laptop program. Before the year started, I visited the school to meet with the IT staff, and found some random Access Points scattered around a few classrooms. This would not do at all. Within 3 weeks, a brand new series of Airespace controllers and 60 Lightweight Access Points painted the campus in a seamless and invisible carpet of secure RF. If they were going to explore wireless, I proudly thought, then they need to fly business class!Over the past 3 years I watched my daughter develop as a student and as a woman, and now realize she is my great prototype for the Mobility Generation. Equipped with laptop, cell phone, i-Pod and an innate desire to learn, she Googles her way through life and school, making strong friendships and nailing down a 4.0 GPA (ok, it’s Father’s Day; I’m proud). This latter point always amazed me, as she seems to be connected to her friends through Instant Messenger and her dreams through ITunes, all the while she did her homework, her honors projects and organized her social life ALL AT THE SAME TIME. With far few distractions, I never managed to produce the grades and quality of work she shows. So what was going on here?A few weeks ago, I sat down with Ron Ricci, Cisco’s great positioning genius, and we talked about how the generation coming through school can be totally connected to the world through mobility devices, yet still have “great moments of concentration.” Clearly my daughter’s generation can use all of this technology to harness thought and action, feeling empowered by mobility, rather than overwhelmed by it. To wit, see the raft of new books on how to “unplug” your life. To those people, I offer a Bronx cheer: the Ozzie and Harriet view of technology will leave your children in the dustbin of history.Having a self-organized, self-disciplined and focused daughter, what, as a father, can I provide in terms of life’s lessons, as she already knows how to steer her through the interconnected networks of the world? In the words of William Butler Yeats in his great “Prayer for My Daughter,” I could share but one lesson this Father’s Day:”In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned”Happy Father’s Day gentle readers. AlanW.B. Yeats”Prayer for My Daughter”Once more the storm is howling, and half hidUnder this cradle-hood and coverlidMy child sleeps on. There is no obstacleBut Gregory’s wood and one bare hillWhereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind.Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;And for an hour I have walked and prayedBecause of the great gloom that is in my mind.I have walked and prayed for this young child an hourAnd heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,And-under the arches of the bridge, and screamIn the elms above the flooded stream;Imagining in excited reverieThat the future years had come,Dancing to a frenzied drum,Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.May she be granted beauty and yet notBeauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,Being made beautiful overmuch,Consider beauty a sufficient end,Lose natural kindness and maybeThe heart-revealing intimacyThat chooses right, and never find a friend.Helen being chosen found life flat and dullAnd later had much trouble from a fool,While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,Being fatherless could have her wayYet chose a bandy-legged smith for man.It’s certain that fine women eatA crazy salad with their meatWhereby the Horn of plenty is undone.In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earnedBy those that are not entirely beautiful;Yet many, that have played the foolFor beauty’s very self, has charm made wise.And many a poor man that has roved,Loved and thought himself beloved,From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.W.B. Yeats”A Prayer for My Son”Bid a strong ghost stand at the headThat my Michael may sleep sound,Nor cry, nor turn in the bedTill his morning meal come round;And may departing twilight keepAll dread afar till morning’s back.That his mother may not lackHer fill of sleep.Bid the ghost have sword in fist:Some there are, for I avowSuch devilish things exist,Who have planned his murder, for they knowOf some most haughty deed or thoughtThat waits upon his future days,And would through hatred of the baysBring that to nought.Though You can fashion everythingFrom nothing every day, and teachThe morning stars to sing,You have lacked articulate speechTo tell Your simplest want, and known,Wailing upon a woman’s knee,All of that worst ignominyOf flesh and bone;And when through all the town there ranThe servants of Your enemy,A woman and a man,Unless the Holy Writings lie,Hurried through the smooth and roughAnd through the fertile and waste,protecting, till the danger past,With human love.”Touch of Grey”Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia Must be getting early Clocks are running late Paint by number morning sky Looks so phony Dawn is breaking everywhere Light a candle, curse the glare Draw the curtains I don’t care ’cause It’s all right I will get by / I will get by I will get by / I will survive I see you’ve got your list out Say your piece and get out Yes I get the gist of it but it’s all right Sorry that you feel that way The only thing there is to say Every silver lining’s got a Touch of grey I will get by / I will get by I will get by / I will survive It’s a lesson to me The Ables and the Bakers and the C’s The ABC’s we all must face And try to keep a little grace It’s a lesson to me The deltas and the east and the freeze The ABC’s we all think of Try to give a little love. I know the rent is in arrears The dog has not been fed in years It’s even worse than it appears but it’s all right. Cows giving kerosene Kid can’t read at seventeen The words he knows are all obscene but it’s all right I will get by / I will get by I will get by / I will survive The shoe is on the hand it fits There’s really nothing much to it Whistle through your teeth and spit causeit’s all right. Oh well a Touch Of Grey Kind of suits you anyway. That was all I had to say It’s all right. I will get by / I will get by I will get by / I will survive We will get by / We will get by We will get by / We will survive

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