News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 16, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE; A lesson for life from an ex-hippie

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I know that popular wisdom says kids learn from their parents. I have discovered, the older I get, that parents can learn a lot from kids. Furthermore, as I age, the more I find the kids can teach me a lot.

For example: my Best Friend and I were lunching with Number Two son the other day. Discussion touched on politics, as it often does, and we worried over the topic of Congress and its members lack of ability to compromise. After all, when neither side will speak to colleagues on the “other side of the aisle,” no compromise is possible.

It was about at that point that Number Two son laughed a bit. He said that he had met a high school friend who was in town for the State High reunion a week or so ago. This was a kid who was considered during the high school years as the class hippie. He was a good kid, but true to the conventional thought of teens in those days, inclined to protest against the status quo.

Number Two said that he had been fulminating about Congress and its misplaced priorities along with the lack of serious attention given to the big issues. It was at that point his friend — who now goes to work in a suit and tie — said that he had found the solution to the frustrations of our times.

“You know,” he said, “I’ve decided to allot 10 minutes a day to worrying about what’s being done, or not being done, in Washington. The rest of the day I’ll spend doing things I can actually do something about.”

I think he’s on to something profound. I have no idea what this ex-hippie does in the 23 hours and 50 minutes a day he refuses to waste his time complaining about what’s going on in Washington or Indianapolis or other halls of government. At least he is released from a lot of anxiety. Maybe he plays with his kids or volunteers time to a local charity. At least he has chosen to do something his elected officials seem unwilling or unable to accomplish.

I’m seriously going to try this 10-minute method. I don’t know how successful I’ll be since I also believe that I must be an informed voter. I will continue to read the newspapers and news magazines and will watch and listen to news broadcasts when they touch on news rather than celebrity gossip. Then I’ll work to elect individuals who actually have ideas — not spoon fed — and will work in the public interest.

Then, if frustration bubbles up, I’ll start counting the minutes. Ten minutes is all the time it will get.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to