This I Believe

Joshua - Tampa, Florida
Entered on April 10, 2007

I believe in the perseverance of every generation, even though each generation will face its own challenges.

Here I am, age 23, in my office. Trying to tie a tie. And somehow, this not-so-simple task has me remembering when I was 10 and I still wore a Clip-on tie. When I was getting dressed up for special occasions my Dad would give me what he dubbed the “5 dollar hair comb,” slicked and parted to the right. He straightened my hair with one of those modest black combs you find soaking in blue fluid at a barbershop.

But here I am, 23 in an office of my own, and I don’t know how to tie a tie. I am checking the Internet now. The how-to pictures are ambiguous, the captions read like a manual for one of those self-assembly desks… Does “W” (for the wide end of the tie) wrap around “N” (for the narrow end) or does it loop through “C” (for the center)? What age would Dad have shown me how to tie my tie? 16 perhaps? Or maybe around 14 when I graduated junior high? Somehow I have made it to 23 without picking it up somewhere. There must be 50 websites though devoted to the art of tie tying, so I figure I am not the only guy out there who doesn’t know how this works. I imagine there are probably sons out there of single mothers, or with a father who never wore a tie— just a blue shirt with a name stitched on the coat pocket.

It’s when I nearly put the silky fabric of tie in a Gordian knot for the 5th time I began to despair. I peg myself as a product of a nation of forgotten arts, in a generation void of self-sufficiency. I wonder how many of my father’s secrets rest inside his chest, unspoken, locked beneath the earth like precious stones. I don’t know how to change my car oil. I don’t know how to build a desk without prefab parts and a multi-language manual for a crutch. My father had worn a tie smartly. My father could change the oil without adieu. And my father could build a desk with his wits, his hands, and a few pieces of undesignated wood.

Still I am lucky I knew my father at all, how many sons have never learned the “5 dollar hair comb” or had a father who instilled in them a love of art, beauty, nature and knowledge? But I figure those other guys who are viewing the same how-to site as me are going to be O.K. Because I know I am going to be O.K. Because humans will persist. even though no generation was a replica of its seed, still each struggles from the soil, or cracked pavement, each generation adapts and thrives no matter the challenge, this I believe. That and my tie ended up looking pretty good.