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…
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.
Cecilia is taking trombone lessons this summer and, unlike piano lessons, she’s mostly learning riffs and scales, not full songs. Like most kids, Cecilia likes to go fast. She likes piano pieces with speed and panache. Who can blame her? It’s easy to rush in. It feels good to start. But if you’re going quickly for the sake of speed (or to get that practice session done), you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to miss opportunities.
And listening to their lesson is a good reminder to myself. There is no prize for doing things first, the only thing that matters is doing them well. With the current state of society, there is no rush. One of my favorite things about the pandemic (can you have a favorite thing? is that strange?) is just seeing neighbors hanging out in their yards talking. Slowing down today can pay huge dividends. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. You actually go faster and better whether it’s learning the trombone, surviving the pandemic, or vacuuming glitter.
We recently went blueberry picking at a nearby farm. Turns out, when you are required to wear masks and can’t do any field sampling, you fill up your bucket much faster! It also happened to be really hot that week and turning on the oven at all for preserves and jam wasn’t appealing.
We ate many of them fresh but we also had fun coming up with a blueberry popsicle recipe that tasted way better and was way more healthy than the vibrant blue ice pops that typically fill our freezer.
A month or so late, but we finally made it to the Cape. And the girls immediately set about trying to cram in all that missed time into eight hours. You’ve probably had these days with your kids where the time flew by as you hop, skipped, and jumped from one activity to the next. A day where you didn’t think about work, or your phone, or maybe even the virus for a bit. It’s wonderful…and completely exhausting.
Is there a fruit more associated with a season than watermelon? Maybe fall and apples but the red, sweet, dripping melon is an automatic taste reference point for hot summer days in July. Picking out the perfect watermelon for your BBQ or beach picnic can be tricky.
There aren’t a lot of outward clues between a sweet and juicy watermelon and a dry, cottony dud. So how do you pick the perfect summer watermelon? Do you just close your eyes and pick? No. There are a few things you can look for that will increase your chances of picking a ripe and ready winner.
I’ve mostly given up on the news. I’ll watch the local broadcast for the weather and the 1-800 Kars for Kids song and then give myself 30 seconds to glance the headlines to make sure the world isn’t ending (degrees of relativity with that one) and that’s it. Anything else and I start to spiral into a foul mood.
But it has raised an interesting question as a Dad: How much should we shelter our kids from the scariness of the world? How much should we protect them from knowing about the day-to-day events of the world that they can’t do anything about? Is it selfish and self-centered to let them be kids just a little longer?
Isn’t that part of the job description as parents? To shoulder the stress they have no business dealing with at this age.
Certainly they know the big picture. They know why we are wearing masks and staying home. We’ve talked about some of the social issues. They aren’t in a complete bubble and I think they know how fortunate and lucky they are.
But they are still kids. They shouldn’t have to carry this equally. That’s on us.
See what happens when you watch too much news….