So, it’s hard to comprehend the idea of impending fatherhood. It’s alternately exciting and horrifying, as I’m sure it is for most fathers-to-be. With some close friends already having taken the plunge, I’m glad to know that we’ll have people to rely on for a little experience and help. It’s still quite strange.
I was thinking what I would like to pass on to the child (it’s a ‘he’ if you don’t already know, and no, we don’t have a name yet – we’re not just not telling you), and the thing that kept coming to mind was simple, but also impossible to accurately convey:
“Know when to quit.”
WHOA! That’s a horrible thing to say, right? You should teach your kid to persevere, to work hard, to fight through things – that with dedication and hard work, anything is possible… right?
Well, no – I don’t think so. I mean, I’m not saying I *don’t* want to teach them dedication, hard work, perseverance – absolutely, I do. But a companion to that is to know what to focus their dedication, etc. etc. ON.
How do you explain to a kid that you should always, always work hard, try hard, stick to it, and not to give up, but also that some battles are not for you, that you can be passionate about many things, but that there is a limit, and your life might be better if you tried something else.
It seems like the kind of lesson that you learn only with experience, and an understanding of what you want in life, and how to achieve it – how to strip back the trappings of daily life, and to figure out what you really, really want, and how to let the other things go. Or how to not drive yourself crazy trying the impossible. After all, a lot of people who were great at things were also… crazy. And if they want to be great, maybe it requires a little craziness, in the end.
But maybe there’s also value in knowing how to focus your efforts to maximize the return. I mean, I like a lot of things. Some of which I still do, and some of which I simply don’t have time for – but finding the right balance is hard, because what you want to do and what you *can* simply don’t match up a good amount of the time.
I like cooking. A lot. But I find that one problem is that I’m ambitious. I want to cook something awesome. ALL THE TIME. And so what happens is that instead of an occasional simple meal, like a bowl of ramen, I’ll want to do something crazier, but never get to it because we don’t have the time or energy to devote that much to food preparation every night. So ingredients will go to waste, or we’ll put it off and order in, and eat worse in the end because it’s taken five years to realize that sometimes, it’s fine to just chill and make something at home that only takes five minutes.
It’s just a matter of finding balance. I know I can do almost anything if I put my mind to it, if I’m dedicated to it, if I try really hard. And for the things I realize I’m truly, deeply passionate about, I do all those things and more. But the ability to step back and say, “Maybe I don’t want this as much as I think I do,” not because you have to but because you can get that perspective…
It seems like that frees you to be great, rather than frustrated by good.