Thursday, March 18, 2010

Parental Giving

On the PBS show Faces of America, they are exploring the family histories of a number of amazing Americans. One history being explored is of the famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. They were able to track down a genealogy, including biographies and even naming conventions for generations, that had been lost and rediscovered in China. The oldest record they could find was for the ancestor Ma Lin-Guan, born 1435. The following is from the episode "Making America" where they explore this record:

(Reading from the genealogy record about Ma Lin-Guan) Living an upright life and without holding an official post, he accumulate virtue and cultivated goodness, and thus he laid the foundations for the family for 10,000 generations to come. To pass on good fortune to the descendants, isn't that what it's all about. Isn't it?

(Yo-Yo Ma's commentary) That's what I'm trying to do is live an upright life without holding an official post. Actually, I'm just trying to stay upright (laughter).... That's the best we can do as parents. It's not passing wealth, but passing, you know, certain values. In this case, virtue ... and good fortune.


Work and Family Balance
On March 2, as I was getting ready to head into the office, my four-year-old son walked up to me, and asked me not to go. We play this out every once in a while, so I gave my standard response, "Well, I have to go to work, so they'll give us money and we'll be able to buy food."

This time, he was having none of it. "Just tell them you don't need to work. We have enough money."

I sat down, smiled at him, hugged him, and then said, "You know, even if we didn't have any money, we'd still be pretty happy, right?" He nodded. "You know why?" He nodded. "Yeah, cause we've got family," he said. "Yeah," I said.

Then I went off to work for the day.

That's what we have to do to live a reasonable lifestyle today. I am very fortunate, because my job allows me to work from home much of the time, but I have so many irons in the fire that it still means that the time I'm able to devote to my family is one of the major sources of tension between Amber and I. Writing a book takes a lot of time, and when you have a full-time job in addition to that, well ... that's a lot of time you're devoting to goals outside of the family.

I think that I balance it fairly well, but sometimes - like when my son says things like the above - I do wonder if I'm successful. It's important to always remember that giving begins at home ... which is why this afternoon I will be conducting the Mentos geyser experiment, as well as maybe the egg in the bottle experiment ... no matter how much time it takes.