[If you don’t subscribe to the book newsletter, a quick update on the next book] It is the dog days of summer and I am in the dog days of writing the next book. I’m approaching half way. If I look over my shoulder, I can no longer see the bright and exciting beginning. If I look ahead, it’s still a bit dark and mysterious. How are you going to get out this one, Max? The only way to find out is to keep going. Get on that treadmill and get some words down each day.
When that happens? Happiness and light. But it does have a darker side. Chasing happiness, even just through writing, can be exhausting. This time around I’m trying instead to focus on being grateful.
G.K. Chesterton said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
Unlike happiness, which is more a (fleeting) feeling, gratitude, I think, can be cultivated as a practice. It is a verb, something you do. Happiness is worth acknowledging, but gratitude is worth practicing.
The shot of summer late this week reminded everyone of two things: first, Dad’s rules on using the air conditioning and second, summer Dad camp is not that far away.
This year was the first where we didn’t sign up them up for camps and then tell them where they were going. We let them choose. This might have been a mistake. Turns out most kids have no idea how to make a decision.
What seems obvious to us, dinner, wardrobe, book to read next. Is an almost existential crises for them. How can they pick a summer camp when they can’t pick a cereal?
Turns out I vastly underestimating the amount of skill and experience in making decisions. Sure, most of the decisions we make as an adult mean nothing. Pick something and move on. But to kids it can be almost paralyzing. At least my kids.
This will be the summer of choice. Perhaps empowerment. Perhaps regret. But they will choose. They will learn. Life is a series of decisions. They will be prepared.
School has started back up. One of the frequent bits of hand-wringing last year, myself included, was that the pandemic was a lost year, or that the kids were falling behind, or not learning anything. In my more rationale moments, I was able to see that this was mostly absurd, stress from other things finding an easy target.
By some metrics there probably was some backsliding, but did your kids really not learn anything? I hope not. And I doubt it. If I’ve learned anything from being a parent for a decade, it’s that kids are always watching and listening. So they were learning things. Just not likely the things they typically standardize test for at the end of an academic year.
They were learning how unpredictable life can be. They were learning about pressure and stress and about how important (and necessary) it is to be resilient and adaptive. They learned that their Mom was a boss on conference calls and worked hard every day to help people get through a difficult time. They learned about the importance of frequent vacuuming and the healing power of fresh baked bread. They learned how important relationships and good friends were. They learned about politics and and public health, if they wanted to or not! They learned about how interconnected we all ultimately are.
I hope they learned that education doesn’t just happen in school. It’s a lifelong, never ending journey.
First, a quick thanks to everyone that bought the book last week, left a review, or simply left me a note. Many of you asked me if it was successful and I probably gave you a vague answer. By the numbers, it was better than the last one which is certainly going in the right direction. But it also left me thinking about success. Obviously, everyone wants to be successful and I want lots of people to read and enjoy my books. But good or bad, bestseller or not, results are ephemeral.
As I’ve hit forty and beyond, I’ve picked up this curious habit of reading more self-help books. There is a concept in eastern philosophy called the hungry ghost that is both striking and indelible. The hungry ghost has an endless stomach. He’s never satiated. He never feels full. He’s especially dangerous when used to define success. He literally almost killed me in 2015 when I was so focused on completing a half ironman that I ignored serious physical and mental problems that eventually landed me in the hospital.
Now, I define success not on the results but the process. That’s where 99.9% of the time is spent. Whether it’s writing book, parenting, working out, or just hanging out. You need to enjoy the process. That’s something worth doing. Ignore the hungry ghost. So, yes, the book was successful but I knew that long before publication day.
On to the next book, but first a pleasantly cool and overcast Saturday… Continue Reading
We received another email survey about school re-opening from the superintendent this week. I dutifully opened it, read it, and then just as quickly closed it. My brain just shut down. Michelle and I have been debating our answers for the last four days. There’s no simple, easy, or right answer to the school question.
It was a stark reminder that being a parent is the hardest job. No training. No pay. Responsibilities that are never easily defined and always changing. So what do you do? I have no idea and that’s also parenting. The best you can do is be adaptable. Be ready to respond to a an unending, ever-changing flow of complicated circumstances. And keep the wine fridge stocked. Continue Reading