Turkish Delight

My father still smokes.

At 74 years of age, he deals daily with lingering issues from emphysema and COPD, and he spends a good part of his day wearing an oxygen feed.

He certainly doesn't smoke anywhere as much as he used to -- which is an important thing to mention. It's hard to imagine kicking a habit you've had for more than 50 years is an easy thing to do.

That being said, I don't think he wants to quit. I don't think he ever did.

I think he's pretty well acquainted with the health risks. I'm pretty certain he's aware of the dangers. He knows what it's done to him, and what it will likely eventually do to him.

I think he just likes to do it.

But I also suspect that a part of that liking to do it, a component of maintaining this habit comes from a sense of resistance. Like I said, he's 74 years old -- the man's seen a lot. He's lived through times in history we now look back on as cataclysmic. But beyond that, he's also experienced his own triumphs and defeats. He's lost loved ones. He established a career path, raised two kids and got them both through college with it. He survived a divorce, cleared himself of monstrous debt, retired from his job, and dealt with serious health threats.

And what does he get for all that?

He gets a world where everyone is more interested in their phones than they are in anyone else. If there's anything he gripes about more than anything else, it's people and their damn phones.

It's a world where -- in his view -- everyone needs to be told what to think.

A world where opinions can be easily swayed and/or manipulated based on what they see on the phones and not the wisdom of those around them. The result of which is a place where where you can't buy access to television or a landline phone without the internet, even if you don't want the internet.

But beyond everything else, I think he spends a lot of time angry at a world that seems set on taking things away from him.

Perhaps the price of admission for anyone who finds themselves part of a generational shift is feeling the simplicity of the world you once knew getting replaced with the complexity of the world that the next generation embraces.

And I think it's easy to examine how the ways we have sought to speed up our world and fill it with access to instant information comes with the cost of a distancing effect on those who grew up adopting a mindset of the benefits of long-held values, takings things slow, and reaping the eventual returns of lifelong effort.

But more specifically and personally, I think my dad has had to endure a lot of people telling him that he can't have things he likes anymore. And in turn -- and in a move that I honestly understand more deeply than a lot of things my dad does, he has responded by holding onto those things as much as he can, as tightly as he's humanly able to do.

He owns guns. He likes movies about war and TV shows about old west lawmen. He has a landline phone. And several times a day, despite warnings from his doctors and urgings from his family and loved ones, he lights up a cigarette.

Let's be clear here -- my father's not some psychotic republican. He doesn't go around parroting Fox News, he's never gone on and on about makers and takers, he's never said a word about SJWs or crazy feminists -- but he does see the world from a perspective that rejects a lot of the hysteria about decorum or sensibilities.

Or to put it another way, when a new issue or controversy comes up in society -- he rarely lets anyone tell him what to think about it.

He measures it against his own values and code.

But in the cases where those value and code represent an older worldview or contradicts the conclusions everyone else is reading off their phones has decided is right -- he quietly and earnestly continues to smoke.

So while issue to issue it can be frustrating to deal with, it does make a certain kind of sense.

But it also means that on certain fronts, you're not going to be able to tell him anything. He's not going to listen. All the facts and examples in the world won't amount to a change in opinion.

And that can be really frustrating. Especially if it's not just him. Because I don't think he's the only one who sees the world through these sorts of lenses.

The difference is that there's supposed to be more of us than there are of them. There's supposed to be this dichotomy where you have a generation living and functioning and voting with a different set of values, but it's offset by a group with a more modern-minded sensibility. And the synthesis between those two tensions is supposed to help us find the best of both paths. Where the wisdom of the elders helps keeps youthful enthusiasm from leaping before it looks -- but those living in the present moment can use all they have learned to help make things better for everyone involved.

We're supposed to be working together. 

That's where I think I'm most frustrated lately -- but perhaps also where I'm most confused. Because somewhere in all this logic I think is a version where I should see the fact that my dad smokes a lot less than he used to as some level of compromised victory. But despite my desire to let dad be dad, I still really wish he'd quit altogether. I still really wish he'd quit the 100 or more times I wanted him to when I was growing up.

So does that make me the one who doesn't get it?

[Now Playing:  Vince Staples "BagBak" ]