4 years, 10 months, and 17 days. Behave well, pursue your passions and ignore the ankle-biters.

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Someone who cannot rise to your level, and who can only bite your ankles instead of being able to really bite your head off.

Folks of lower altitude.

My boss is an ankle biter and he’s doing well as such
by Scotty Breauxman January 20, 2008

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware the ankle-biters.  They’re ubiquitous.  There is no escaping them.

In fact, insecurity can even reduce family members to being ankle-biters at times.  For example, because I matriculated at significantly more famous and reputable graduate school than he, my brother — your uncle — once had the temerity to suggest that just because I got in does not mean I could obtain an advance degree from said school.  Of course, I completed my doctorate and went on to achieve and earn more than he professionally.

Ankle biters are like zombies.  They never die, and they keep coming.

The best you can do is to protect yourselves against their ankle bites, and ignore them as you pursue bigger and better.  Eventually, as you rise, your world will be populated by fewer and fewer of them, and you could better enjoy the fruits of your labor.  (This assumes, of course, that you choose your social circles with care and not frequent haunts where ankle biters roam.)

Remember our days at the OG and on the Hill?  Most of our neighbors were nice, weren’t they?  We had no trouble with them.  That’s because I chose those neighborhoods with care.  Most of our neighbors on the Hill were retirees, consultants, and educators.  We had one neighbor behind and down the hill from us who repaid our kindness of giving him the key to our house when power was out so that he could use the gas oven and heater as necessary to care for his family by having his dog shit in our yard.  His actions bespoke his upbringing, did they not?

As we say, “Didn’t your parents teach you manners, or were you raised in a barn?”  Apparently, he was raised in a barn.  You weren’t.  Act accordingly.

http://www.businessinsider.com/manners-to-teach-kids-2017-8/#standing-when-youre-introduced-to-someone-5

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As Jesus reduced the Ten Commandments to two — (1) love God with all your heart and soul, and (2) love your neighbors as yourself — Emily Post reduced the book of manners down its essence:  be mindful of the feelings of others around you, and act to not offend.  If you do that, it doesn’t really matter if you were using the wrong fork.

I leave you with the biography of Kilian Hennessy, heir to that famous  and delicious brand of cognac.  Despite being born into wealth and fame, he didn’t just sit on his butt, but worked hard to pursue his passion for “angels’ share” and to develop his own perfumerie.  Be like him.  Don’t be like the countless progenies whose only legacy is that they burnt through all that was left for them and built nothing of their own.  .

Biography

Heir to a long line of cognac-makers who were pioneers in luxury, Kilian decided to take up the torch of family tradition. Creating a new luxury brand was definitely a challenge worthy of his predecessors.

His childhood haunts included the family cellars in Cognac. Before graduating from CELSA, he wrote a thesis on the semantics of scent, in search of a ‘language’ common to gods and mortals. Remembering the «angels’ share» as part of his heritage, he was led into the world of perfumery. The «angels’ share» is what the House of Hennessy calls the percentage that – inexplicably – evaporates from cognac cellars, like an offering to the gods.
Many of Kilian’s fragrances today carry this childhood memory as they are reminiscent of the sugar in the alcohol and the wood of the cognac barrels.

After graduating, he then went on to train with the greatest noses in perfumery and worked for the most prestigious perfume houses such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani.

In 2007, Kilian launched his own namesake brand with the ambition of reflecting not only his distinct personality, but also to achieve a perfect alliance between elegance and uncompromising luxury. His “eco-luxe” philosophy that each bottle can be refilled and kept for a lifetime catapulted the brand to the top of the fragrance market and into a niche of its very own.

In 2017 and ten years since its launch, the world of Kilian includes more than 35 scents, spanning across different fragrance collections including: “L’Oeuvre Noire”, “Arabian Nights”, “Asian Tales”, “In the Garden of Good & Evil” and “Addictive State of Mind“.

Kilian continues to create unexpected products that embody ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury with a collection of wearable scented jewelry and decorative objects for the home.

As the Kilian brand evolves and matures, the one aspect which remains consistent is that each and every product created embodies ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury.

https://www.bykilian.com/us/biography.php

Live right, pursue your passions, and ignore the ankle biters.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

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4 years, 10 months, and 5 days. Learn to be a team player. Life is not all about you.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

History is replete with tales of those too smart for their own good.  Too often, people use their natural talents to elevate themselves at the expense of others, of their teams, of their communities, of their countries.  (Sadly, this is true also of those without talents, but who think they possess such attributes.)  The results are predictable.  Calamity ensues.  The news is replete with such stories, and books and movies have made much of such.  Yet, the lesson is frequently forgotten.

The most important lesson in life, my sons, is to be a part of something good and greater than yourselves.  The enigma is that service for others will bring you greater joy and happiness than the dogged and selfish pursuit of your own happiness.  As discussed earlier, we are wired to be bottomless pits.  We are built to adapt; thus, what joy a new acquisition gives you will soon fade and the need for another, newer acquisition will start you on the endless chase.

But, the critical terms here are “good and greater than yourselves”.  Beware of false promises and outright lies.  (I do not intend to imply mal-intent here; sometimes, people do not intend to be bad but become blinded to the truth because of their tunnel visions.)

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(Yes, Jim Jones claimed to be God and Buddha on occasions, yet he forced his followers to kill their children and themselves.  False prophets are many.  Beware of them.)

Use your head.  Think, always.  Assess the validity of what is presented to you.  What are the motives of the speaker?  What does he/she have to gain?  Is the information reliable and supported by data, studies, logic, etc.?  What is being omitted?  What are the counterarguments?

Always think.  Explore and find out for yourselves what you believe in, what projects you can invest yourselves in, and how you can help the less fortunate and make your community a better place.

My one regret with you boys is to not have involved you guys in my volunteer work.  I thought you were too young.  I was wrong.  It would have done you good, and exposed you to the harsh realities of the lives of many others.

My hope is you will find good people and good projects to engage with.  The joy that comes from team work and helping others cannot be overstated.  I want that for you.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 9 months, and 28 days. Money is but a means to a comfortable life. Don’t chase after it. Live right.

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Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes, Including Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal

Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is sure to send shock waves both through the kingdom and the world’s major financial centers.

He controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, owning or having owned major stakes in 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, Apple, Twitter and many other well-known companies. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

This is the Age of the Fallen.  Recent stories of the mighty who have fallen includes Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, President Park of South Korea, President Rousseff of Brazil, President Lula of Brazil, Senator Menendez of New Jersey, National Security Advisor  Flynn, the head of Samsung, and numerous others.

They rose to power and fortune through nebulous means, and their wayward ways eventually caught up to them.  Don’t be like them!

Money is but a means to an end — a means to securing a comfortable life.  It is not the end-all.  It does not buy you happiness because it brings its own baggage.

Miseries of the Rich and Famous

Would $25 million make you happy?

Not if you’re a member of the ultra-rich.

In a survey titled “Joys and Dilemma of Wealth” by Boston College, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Calibre Wealth Management, the wealthiest set revealed they are an unhappy bunch — worried about appearing ungrateful, rearing bratty children and failing to meet expectations.

The report, obtained by The Atlantic, gives a glimpse of the wealth and fulfillment level of 160 households, of which 120 had amassed fortunes of at least $25 million. The findings: Despite great wealth, many seem miserable.

One of the gems from the survey: “I feel extremely lucky, but it’s hard to get other, non-wealthy people to believe it’s not more significant than that … The novelty of money has worn off.”

So is it better to live life without money? “Being very poor is very miserable,” says Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University. “But it turns out money doesn’t buy as much happiness as people think it would buy.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/concerns-super-rich-wealth-bring-happiness/story?id=13167578

 

 

Money can’t buy happiness

Extremely wealthy people have their own set of concerns: anxiety about their children, uncertainty over their relationships and fears of isolation, finds research by Robert Kenny.

Most of what we think we know about people with a lot of money comes from television, movies and beach novels — and a lot of it is inaccurate, says Robert Kenny, EdD.

In an effort to remedy that, Kenny, a developmental psychologist and senior advisor at the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, is co-leading a research project on the aspirations, dilemmas and personal philosophies of people worth $25 million or more. Kenny and his colleagues surveyed approximately 165 households via an anonymous online survey and were surprised to find that while money eased many aspects of these people’s lives, it made other aspects more difficult….

What did you find?

People consistently said that their greatest aspiration in life was to be a good parent — not exactly the stereotype some might expect. When asked whether their money helps with that, they answered with all the obvious: good schools, travel, security, varied experiences. But when we asked how their money gets in the way, that was a payload. We received response after response on how money is not always helpful. They mentioned very specific concerns, such as the way their children would be treated by others and stereotyped as rich kids or trust fund babies, they wondered if their children would know if people really loved them or their money, whether they’d know if their achievements were because of their own skills, knowledge and talent or because they have a lot of money.

Some were concerned about motivation. They worried that if their children have enough money and don’t have to worry about covering the mortgage, what will motivate them? How will they lead meaningful lives? This is where the money might get in the way and make things confusing, not necessarily better. Very few said they hoped their children made a lot of money, and not many said they were going to give all the money to charity and let their kids fend for themselves. They were, however, really interested in helping their children figure out how they could live a meaningful life. Even though they did not have to “make a living,” they did need to make a life.

As for the respondents’ aspirations for the world, they focused, once again, on how to help the youth in the world live healthy, meaningful and impactful lives. Their answers were consistently youth-focused: They were concerned about being good parents, they were concerned about their children and they were concerned about the children of the world in general. We found that to be very interesting, and even surprising because it runs contrary to so many of the stereotypes about this population.

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/money.aspx

We were not super-rich by any means, but we were rich enough to experience some of their struggles.  Your aunts and uncle and I always worried about how best to provide for our children without spoiling you guys, without enabling you to take things for granted.  There is value in hard work.  Never shy away from it.

You know, during most of my career, I worked hard to establish myself and earn a good living to support you boys.  For most of my career, I had four weeks of paid vacation.  Yet, during all my years working for large firms and organizations, I knew of only one colleague who was able to take the full vacation time off and enjoy it with his family.  The rest of us barely had time for family, much less vacation.  Most years, I was able to take one week off.  One year, we spent two weeks in Hawaii, but I spent one of those weeks holed up in the hotel, sitting in front of my work-issued laptop.

I should have taken more vacations and should have spent each and every second of the time off with you.  That’s my regret.

Most of my colleagues and I knew of someone, or has heard about someone, who died at the office.  We spend so much of our lives there.  Yes, the money and the recognition was nice, but at the end of the day, they don’t mean much.  I have never heard of anyone who, on his deathbed, wished he’d spent more time at the office.

Live within your means.  Take time to enjoy life, each other, and nature.  Those things — not money — help you live a long and meaningful life.

All my love, always,

Dad

Ex-NFL player who lived on $25,000 a year shares his key to saving money

When John Urschel retired from the NFL at age 26 in 2017, he had earned an impressive $1.8 million over just three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

His salary was as high as $600,000 in 2016, but you wouldn’t know it from his lifestyle: The offensive lineman, who drives a used Nissan Versa that he bought for $9,000, chose to live on less than $25,000 a year.

That means Urschel was living off of just 4 percent of his salary in 2016. In other words, he was saving about 96 percent of what he made.

 He didn’t live on a modest $25,000 a year and drive a used car “because I’m frugal or trying to save for some big purchase,” Urschel said. “It’s because the things I love the most in this world (reading math, doing research, playing chess) are very, very inexpensive.”

Former NFL player John Urschel

Nicole Craine | Getty Images
Former NFL player John Urschel

Urschel, who is currently pursuing his doctorate at MIT, chooses to spend on what makes him happy and not waste money on things that aren’t important to him.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/03/nfls-john-urschel-lived-on-25000-a-year-explains-how-to-save-money.html?yptr=yahoo?src=rss

 

 

 

4 years, 9 months, and 24 days. Helping others is good for you. Make time to volunteer and help others.

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Why Doing Good Is Good for the Do-Gooder

From Hurricane Harvey flooding Houston to Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripping through the Caribbean to wildfires burning Northern California, cities and charities have been flooded with donations and volunteers. The outpouring of support is critical for helping affected communities to recover. But acts of generosity benefit the do-gooder, too.

“Research suggests that these community social connections are as important for resilience to disaster is as physical material like disaster kits or medical supplies,” explained Ichiro Kawachi, a professor of social epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Voluntarism is good for the health of people who receive social support, but also good for the health of people who offer their help.”

The day after Cristina Topham evacuated her home as a result of the fires in Sonoma, Calif., she and her boyfriend immediately looked for ways to donate and help.

“I just felt like I had to do something. I love my town and my community, and the reach of the destruction was astonishing from the very beginning,” she said.

 

Why is the first instinct for many to volunteer and donate after a natural disaster? One reason is that as humans we’ve evolved to survive in groups, not alone. Rallying together makes us feel less alone in the experience, explained the sociologist Christine Carter, a fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

“When our survival is threatened, we are going to reach out and strengthen our connections with people around us. We show generosity. We show compassion. We show gratitude. These are all emotions that function to connect us with each other,” Dr. Carter said.

Scientific evidence supports the idea that acts of generosity can be beneficial when we volunteer and give back regularly — and not just after a natural disaster. Volunteering is linked to health benefits like lower blood pressure and decreased mortality rates.

Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been studying the effects of positive emotions, such as compassion and kindness, on the brain since the 1990s. He said the brain behaves differently during an act of generosity than it does during a hedonistic activity.

“When we do things for ourselves, those experiences of positive emotions are more fleeting. They are dependent on external circumstances,” he said. “When we engage in acts of generosity, those experiences of positive emotion may be more enduring and outlast the specific episode in which we are engaged.”

Helping others also gives us a sense of purpose. Dr. Linda Fried co-founded Experience Corps, a program that engages retirees as literacy tutors, after she discovered a strong association between a sense of purpose and well-being throughout life. Older adults who volunteered to help children with reading and writing tended to experience less memory loss and maintain greater physical mobility, one study suggested.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

These days, it seems like every day brings bad news.  Terrorism in New York City.  Hurricanes in the Atlantic.  Shootings.  It’s enough to make you want to pull the covers over your head and not get out of bed.

If you need to take a mental health day, do it.  There were times during my practice — after working 12-13 hour days for 6-7 days per week for weeks on end — when I simply had to take the day off and head into the mountains to blow steam, recharge, and put life into perspective.  There, on the mountain top, I would be reminded, in the greater scheme of things,  that the “crises” I deal with at work are insignificant.

The other valuable thing that gives me perspective is volunteerism.  As mentioned yesterday, volunteerism was a mainstay in my life for a long time.  When younger, I tutored kids, interpreted for schools and churches, helped carry groceries for our elderly neighbors, etc.  As I got older, my involvement became more substantial.  For example, I researched and wrote policies to help the homeless and prevent them from freezing to death on cold winter nights, represented asylum seekers with court filings and appearances to help them gain refugee status, helped victims of domestic violence get protection from their abusers.  I also continued to help feed the poor, build houses for the disenfranchised, etc.

Your grandmother, on my side of the family, taught us at a young age that (1) you are never too young to help others, and (2) it does you good to help others.  My greatest take-aways from my childhood were to choose friends with care, and to help others whenever I could.  Even today, at 90 years old, your grandmother is still volunteering and helping those less fortunate than her.  She is making a huge difference in the lives of those she helps.

Grandma’s actions and lesson for us has support in the wisdom of the ancients.  Per Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,

[T]he sages of the Himalayas guided their lives by a simple rule: he who serves the most, reaps the most, emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  This is the way to inner peace and outer fulfillment.”

Science also bears out the wisdom of her lesson.  As stated in article above, doing good is actually good for do-gooder.  Among other things, it contributes to more enduring positive emotions and a sense of well-being, gives our lives purpose, connects us to our fellow human beings, lowers blood pressure, reduces memory loss and  increases mobility as we get older, and decreases mortality rates.

Generally, volunteering is  good for you over the course of your life, and  specifically and in the shorter run, it helps you get into good colleges.  Top colleges care about more than your grades and SAT score.  They want to invest in the future of those who are not only takers, but also givers.  Kids who spend all their time studying and being tutored put themselves in the receiving end of others’ efforts.  There is nothing special about that.

Colleges, employers, and good people want to be associated with those who help others and who give back to the community, not just take and benefit from the community in which they find themselves.  Asian families tend to over-focus on the importance of grades and under-focus on the importance of personal growth.  That’s their failing.  I don’t care how smart you are or how studious you are: as an employer, I would never hire you or invite you to join my team if you could not collaborate with others, communicate with others, help others, or translate what you learned into actionable items.

That said, remember, volunteering is not about padding your resume — although that is a short term benefit.  Helping others is a way of life.  I promise that if you help others, you will get as much, if not more, out of the experience than the person you are helping.

Be good.  Be you.  Be the best you possible.  Help others when possible.  Be a humanist.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 9 months, and 21 days. Beware: you are being manipulated.

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To give an example, if I ask you, “How wrong is it to falsify information on your CV in order to get a better job?” you might think that you just go through a rational process, and think of the reasons why this is wrong, or perhaps why it’s not so bad. But we found that when you put people in certain emotional states, for example, if you have them sit at a table that happens to be very sticky, dirty, and disgusting, then people make different decisions. If you sit at a disgusting table, or let’s say you’re smelling a disgusting smell in the room, then you’re more likely to say that falsifying your CV in order to get a better job is really wrong compared to somebody who sits at a clean table, or somebody who doesn’t have a nasty smell around them.

Similarly we find that when you give people a chance to feel very clean and pure, they decide that something like falsifying their CV is not so bad, it’s proper behavior, or it’s okay, it’s clean. It seems like however people happen to be feeling at the moment colors their judgments about some even very fundamental decisions of whether it is right or wrong to do something. It’s quite surprising that even though we like to think there are good reasons for our decisions, often times there are all these random things that just happen in our lives, and that’s how we decide, for example, what is moral, and what is immoral.

https://www.edge.org/conversation/simone_schnall-a-sense-of-cleanliness

 

http://www.academia.edu/5148803/The_effects_of_cleanliness_and_disgust_on_moral_judgment

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

At sales schools years ago, when Southwestern sent us college students to Nashville for sales training, we were taught how to ask questions that would more likely than not push the respondent to give the answers we wanted.  “Your next door neighbors, the Smiths (a beautiful family), just bought a set of study guides for their children.  You’d want to purchase a set for your kids also, wouldn’t you?” gets you better results than “Would you like to buy a set of these study guides?”  In other words, we were taught to manipulate people.

We were far from unique.  You are being manipulated everyday by ads, by strangers, by friends, by family, by almost everyone.  Beware.

As evident from the above citations on how being in a clean or disgusting environment affects people’s sense of right and wrong.  Who’d thunk it?!!!  But, it’s there.  We could house workers in clean offices with fresh smelling air being pumped in and have them engage in questionable sales tactics all day.  Who is to say Enron traders who laughed about ripping off old grannies weren’t similarly manipulated?  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/enron-traders-caught-on-tape/.  (I am not suggesting those traders were not to be blamed, but that Enron created an environment which heightened the individuals’ unethical leanings.)

So, how can you defend yourself against this insidious manipulation?  Be aware of the possibility.  Think.  Analyze.  Question assumptions.  Use your slow thinking process instead of fast thinking/automated/knee jerk reactions.  See Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.  See also:

Be you, my sons. Be the best you possible.  Your time and your life are your own.  Don’t allow others to impose their will on you and trick you into buying things, wearing clothes, saying things, etc., that are not you.

Go for walks.  It’s a good way to slow things down and think.  It’s good for your cognitive and physical health.  And, it will help you live longer.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cravings/201710/the-easiest-exercise-longer-life.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., I have woken up the past two days extremely sad.  It makes me worry about you boys.  I hope you are ok.

 

 

4 years, 9 months, and 7 days. Be smart. Think, always. Don’t just react.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

In the dark of nights, in the deepest parts of our hears, and in the places where we are often too afraid to dwell, Ms. Jean and I fear that you’ve forgotten us.  Do you still think of us often?  Does your heart ache and the universe collapse when you do?  I pray that you are spared such pain.  Maybe it is a good thing if you’ve forgotten…  If you have, don’t worry.  We have enough love and memory to cover everyone.

Meanwhile, be mindful about how you approach life.  First and foremost, find joy and find peace.  Without those, the travails and vagaries of life will prevail.  The Buddha said, “Life is suffering.”  Remember?  Find balance.

Part of that effort is choosing your battles wisely.  Jaialai, do you remember how you once told your mom that Ms. L’s food tasted better than hers?  She was so angry she smashed the frying pan.  Now, we appreciate the nod of support, but that wasn’t the wisest of moves.  (Yes, you were seven at the time, so it was understandable.)  Since Grandma and I are no longer there to cook for you when you were at your mother’s, she’s all you have in terms of food preparer.  (Your grandmother and I often ended up doing the cooking because your mother never cared enough to learn to cook well — despite her being a housewife during most of our marriage and my working very long hours at top firms.)  Your comments, although it may be accurate and honest feedback, didn’t get you the desired outcome of encouraging your mom to prepare better tasting food, did it?  Shosh resorted to spicy Korean instant noodles more and more as a result.  At our place, cooking and meal time was a family event, remember?  We had fun cooking and eating together, didn’t we?

Pick your battles, boys.  Before you go into battle, know what you are fighting for, what you hope to gain, and what you are willing to lose.  And, most importantly, never, ever, ever allow stupid people to simply goad you into doing battle with them.  That’s stupid for many reasons, including allowing them to choose when and where the fight takes place.  Why would you want to give up those advantages?

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Once you have chosen to fight, though, fight with everything you have.  Use your head.  Don’t let others drag you down. Remember, sometimes, you must lose a battle to win the war.  Use whatever gambit is necessary to throw the opponent off his/her game.  I remember sitting around the table once with Mr. T. and a small group of lawyers to strategize for impending battles against multi-billion corporations which were hurting working men and women and violating laws designed to protect people.  We may have been a small group and out-resourced, but we were never out-witted nor out-matched.

Last, but not least, always, live to fight another day.  Preserve your strength.

Pick And Choose Your Battles Quotes. QuotesGram

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 8 months, and 19 days. Follow YOUR dreams, not others’

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Richard Cory

Edwin Arlington Robinson, 18691935

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

My dearest Shosh ad Jaialai:

4 years, 8 months, and 19 days is an eternity.  I miss you greatly and hope you are well.

Today, let’s talk about living your dreams.  Dare to dream, and to follow your dreams.  Don’t worry about the opinions of others.  They have their lives to live, and you have yours.

This is not always easy.  For example, when I was younger, I wanted to become a medical doctor.  In college, I majored in the hard sciences and worked as a lab assistant, but I also volunteered to assist a professor with his social science research because I thought it interesting.  Over time, I realized that my love lies in social science, not in medicine — but, to this day, I remain interested and curious about matters related to medicine, and my professional duties ultimately took me back to that industry.

Eventually, I changed my major to one of the social sciences.  At first, family members protested and warned me of the difficulties of finding jobs as a social science major.  Clearly, medicine offered a clearer career path.  What they said concerned me, of course, but they presented no new information, yet I knew I would not be happy if I must spend my entire life working as a physician.  Thus, their warnings fell on deaf ears.  I pursued my dreams; won sizable scholarships that enabled me to attend top programs in the U.S.; got a doctorate in my field of interest; and, carved out a successful, interesting, and, generally, rewarding career.

Do what you love, my sons, and you never have to “work” a day in your life.  Follow your interests and dreams.

Also, don’t buy the hype about this or that person having it all.  You never know the burdens carried by others.  Hell is visited upon each of us in our own unique ways.  None can escape it.  We all have our insecurities, fears, doubts, and weaknesses.  As noted in “Richard Rory”, never believe that just because someone has the looks, the mannerism, and the trappings of wealth and royalty, his life is without difficulties.  He, too, has his own demons to fight. (As reminded by the recent anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, her marriage to Prince Charles brought her more misery than it was worth: thus, she eventually divorced him.  Even marrying the future king of England has its costs.)  MIND YOU, SUICIDE IS THE COWARD’S WAY OUT AND THAT IS NOT WHAT I’M ADVOCATING HERE.

I recall a radio talk show years ago, where a prominent and wealthy lawyer was a guest.  An individual called in to the show and said she wished she made as much money as he.  He responded, “You can have my money, but you will also have to take all my responsibilities along with it.”

I believe the Buddha is right when he said, “Life is suffering.”   But, you can overcome it by changing the way you think and how you approach life.

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We’re not Buddhist, but do you not see that I share many of the same philosophies espoused by the Buddha?  At his core, he is but a humanist, isn’t he?  Isn’t Jesus also a humanist?  Aren’t all the great ones in history and folklore humanists also?

Live right.  You will find that living right helps relieve the burdens of life.

Be well, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad