Friday, February 15, 2002
Mosquito editor Penny Zezima has decided it's time for a change. Zezima, who has been general editor since January 1997, is leaving her post this month. But don't worry, she's not leaving the newspaper, just stepping down, or should I say stepping aside, to take the position of production manager. She'll be keeping many of her current responsibilities, but will no longer write editorials. Instead she will return to writing her popular column of the 1980s, "Country Lines."
When we here at the Mosquito first learned of Zezima's decision to relinquish her editorial position, there was much concern on the part of the staff that we would be losing a respected colleague, a good friend, and an indispensable co-worker. To tell the truth, Penny is one of the reasons people have enjoyed working here at the Mosquito. When it was finally learned that she was staying on in a different capacity, relief was felt all around.
Penny Zezima, her husband Steve, and two children, Matt and Sarah moved from Concord to Carlisle in 1984. While living in Concord, Zezima had taken a children's writing course from Nancy Garden, a resident of Carlisle and a member of the Mosquito board of directors. Previously, she had taught rhetoric and English at Boston College. Garden, who knew a good writer when she saw one, recruited Zezima to serve as co-editor of the Mosquito, along with Kay Kulmala and Bonnie Miskolczy. At the end of two years, in 1986, she resigned as editor when she realized she needed more time at home with her two young children. Still, she stayed involved as a member of the board, feature writer, columnist with "Country Lines," and a Wednesday afternoon proofreader. In 1997, she took on the position of general editor.
We will miss Zezima's byline on the editorial page, but be assured her contributions will continue to help maintain the standard of journalism that readers have come to expect from the Mosquito.
The indispensability of joy
In this space a few weeks ago, Forum editor Bob Rothenberg wondered about the decline of loyalty in corporate America and what advice to give one's children entering the job market in such uncertain times. Instead of the traditional scenario of youth chafing at (or accepting) the expectation they will follow in their parents' footsteps, today we have parents fearing they have no career guidance whatsoever to impart. But if we can't foresee what things will be like a few years hence, what can we do?
As one who has bucked tradition from time to time, I think these times perhaps provide a golden opportunity for embracing the unconventional -- or at least less acceptance of the expected path.
When my wife and I were considering leaving the hustle and bustle of Manhattan for Carlisle, with no job awaiting either of us, I took heart from a magazine story written by a single mother. Feeling that she was deadening her soul barely scraping by in a job which gave her no satisfaction, she quit, packed up her kids in her car, and with no savings, headed for a new city. Rather than feeling fearful, she felt, for the first time in years, hopeful. The unknown was more appealing than what she was leaving behind.
Especially in these times, we tend to fall back on reassurances -- that our children are safe, that we are here, that America will endure. This is all well and good, but not necessarily true. No one is truly safe. We will not always be there for our children. America may not endure. The very earth itself may not endure.
What our children need is the confidence that they have within them what it takes not only to survive, but thrive, regardless of how uncertain things may seem. Such a feeling cannot be taught except through experience -- the experience of facing problems and overcoming them. Which isn't to say our children won't fail sometimes. But they need not fear failure. And we need not shield them from it. Perhaps what we need to do is to give our children room so they have the opportunity -- the freedom, really -- to grow by experiencing failure now and then. And, with our support, to develop their capacity for success, finding their own meaning for that word, "success," which may be measured more by the joy they find for themselves in the experience than by any financial reward.
So my advice to my children is to be prepared for anything. Be flexible, not hidebound by expectations (mine or their own). Don't be afraid to take chances -- not recklessly, but in search of satisfaction along whatever path they carve out for themselves. They should seek achievement on their own terms, not strive for standards imposed from without. Freed from the demands of reaching a specified, predetermined goal, they can focus on the quality of the journey itself.
Creating their own way, with no guarantees as to what will happen next, is both exciting and scary. Developing an ability to reassure themselves is indispensable. This comes in part from finding satisfaction in achieving small goals en route to wherever they are headed, even when changing circumstances require a shift in direction. Most important of all, however, is recognizing the indispensability of joy -- joy in the littlest of things. Especially when the big picture seems gloomy, or uncertain at best, find joy where you may. By example, our children will learn to do the same. It is a joyful world, despite itself.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito