‘A well-considered life’…

Ellen and Henry in rest mode. Letters can help prop up the father-children relationship when the Ellens of the world move onward and upward.

The Charlotte Observer reprinted a wonderful column by David Brooks of the New York Times that expands on author Clayton Christensen’s view that – and I’m paraphrasing now – when we put off the investment of time and energy into the relationships we have with spouses and children, “the most important things get short shrift.”

What we do too often, says Christensen, is mis-allocate our resources – largely time – toward things that yield near-term accomplishments (mostly work related) at the expense of what would have a more lasting impact on our lives.  Brooks labels the lasting impact, among other things, a well-considered life.

But perhaps most telling of all was Christensen’s assertion that our preoccupation with the short-term denies us the long-term view: “…it’s not until 20 years down the road that you can say ‘I’ve raised a good son or a good daughter.'”  I’ve slaved to write nearly 90 posts since January, and in one fell swoop he captures the very essence of a decade of letters.  He ought to write my book, not me.

Yet there it is.  The 10 to 15 minutes of keyboard time – toss in another eight to 10 minutes worth of planning – is my weekly investment of effort, creativity and fatherly love for my Ellen and Reid.  Many posts ago I said there is no other earthly way I would rather spend my time and my money.  The letters are, by all accounts, an extension of my willingness to invest in our family relationship.

So I tip my ever-present ball cap to Brooks and Christensen for validating the idea that family ranks way up there ahead of whatever else is a distant second or third.


Mom has a new mailing address in Grand Island.  Here’s the first letter sent to her new home.  There’s no earthly reason for her to ever know about my current situation.  As with the Glen, the staff in G.I. have my blessing to open the letters to read aloud to her.

August 6, 2010

Mom: Well, by now you should be pretty much settled in at your new place, and from everything I’ve heard it’s swanky and nice. You need to keep me posted on how the food is because if the food is good, that’s 90% of things.  And if it is good, you’ll need to find me a bunk out there because it would sure beat what I’m cooking these days.

These days, however, it’s unbearably hot and humid down here.  It’s just God-awful terrible bad.  Honestly, you can’t walk – or I can’t walk – outside without breaking into a sweat.  And that’s at 7:00 in the morning.  I know I’ve whined about that before but it is worth whining about.  Grand Island might be hot, but it’s a whole lot drier that it is in North Carolina.  No wonder the locals mosey so slowly in these parts.

Reid had a good review at his job in Chicago the other day.  He seems happy these days, and he might be getting the itch to look for a new situation in the advertising world.  He keeps telling me what he does with the Internet and such and I keep nodding like I get it although I don’t understand much of what he tells me.  It is way too technical for this guy.  He likes Chicago and everything about it.

Ellen is doing fine, too.  She might get an offer in the next day or so to move up in her current company but it would change her commute from literally 5 minutes to about 25 and she worries about that.  25 minutes?  Down here that’s like driving next door.  Commutes in Charlotte are routinely 45 minutes to way over an hour.  So she didn’t get a lot of sympathy from her dad.  But whatever makes her happy.  She still holds on to the dream of being a teacher and I told her nothing about her new position would stop her from applying for teaching jobs.  I hope she lands that dream situation.

For a lot of different reasons, including just a terrible swing, I’ve hung up my golf clubs on a hook in the garage.  They will stay there for the foreseeable future.  I’m just golfed out and there are other things on my plate.  Also out of the car trunk are stray golf balls, tees, spikes and other golf paraphernalia.  It’s all gone.  It’s anyone’s guess when I’ll get the golf bug again but it likely won’t be anytime soon.

My tomatoes have frittered away.  The excessive heat has stopped the plants from setting fruit and the few fruits on the vines now wouldn’t make half a BLT.  I’m buying them from the farmer’s market but my suspicion is they aren’t from around here.  They feel and taste like factory tomatoes to me.  It just isn’t the same.  The corn isn’t too bad.  Speaking of that, the sweet corn up in G.I. should be coming in right about now.

I’m glad you are close to Ralph and Gayle.  That makes me breathe a lot easier these days.  I think it’s a great thing to be close to the family you have, and you will make new friends up there soon enough.  I just wish I was closer to all of you.  See you soon.


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Filed under Adult Children, Correspondence, Family, Parenting, Writing to adult children

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