September 14, 2011
Today, we were lazy. We wrote, we caught up on emails and we did a lot of nothing.
I made a few calls. We went on another hike.
Susie sorted photos.
We swam and we watched movies. This is worth noting. The girls all watched “A Room With a View” (part of which takes place in Florence) while the boys watched “Hunt for Red October”. I wanted everyone to watch “A Room”, but the boys were having none of it. They voted for the “300”, they got a submarine movie. While I wish we were all together, I am happy everyone enjoyed their show.
Tomorrow, we will got to Pisa and Siena (a medieval fortress town) before returning to our home here.
I feel I have little to offer today. While we had a mild agenda, we did it with gusto. I am looking toward the bed, so I will leave you with a thought.
I am not completely sure what the goal of parenting is. Is it better to encourage a child to find achievement or contentment? This sounds vacuous, but I suggest that it is a major consideration. Susie and I have been looking at our twin boys a lot on this trip and it has become a topic of conversation. Liam writes in his journal practically everyday. He takes pride in being the carrier of the heavier backpack and the keeper of the extra equipment. He is on the go, very competitive and quite driven. He is also the most likely to knock heads with a sibling (Virginia in particular). Wiley, on the other hand, does not feel the same urgency. He is delighted to do whatever we are doing, but he also perfectly happy just hanging out. He wants nothing to do with journaling. He focuses on getting along with everyone and is the great peace-maker.
Susie worries some about Wiley competing in an increasingly global world. I worry about Liam slowing down to smell the roses. Each concern reflects on us as individuals. I have always been hyper-competitive, but slow to appreciate friends, family, simple joys and beauty. Susie is so much better about being content and present. She is less obsessed with goals and wonders if this is a bad thing. As a result, I project my concern about my personality on Liam and she projects her concerns on Wiley.
Implicit in this discussion is the conflict between “seize the day” and “seize the opportunity”. What is the right balance between making a difference and enjoying the moment? In what ways can they be combined? Finally, what role do we parents play in this game? We should encourage the over-achiever to appreciate the small joys, but when are we fighting his nature? We want to challenge Wiley to write more, but when does this become more burden than it should be?
Frankly, I am not sure. I cannot tell you which is best. I know what leads to a better career, but not what leads to a better life. Can you achieve a balance?
If you have any insights, I would love to have them!