Saturday, December 15, 2018

proud of my daughter

Reading a Guardian article about the Amish this morning, I realized I was proud of my daughter. It was from her, within the last year, that I received an email saying she was going to a management seminar on the west coast. The seminar was run by former Navy SEALs. One of the aspects of the weekend seminar was a voluntary physical education aspect -- get up at some ungodly hour like 4:30 and run through a calisthenics regimen. You didn't have to do it, but ....

The challenge hung on the air ....

In the blink of an eye I emailed back. Don't skip the calisthenics.

The next morning, when I consulted my email inbox, there was an unsigned email in return. It said simply, "I threw up twice."

Somehow, somewhere in this life it is important to be able to DO something -- bust your buttons, go outside the cell-phone box, challenge your own personal limits, and actually accomplish something that was neither easy nor expected. My daughter is on the uphill management curve. She likes shopping as well as the next millennial. But she does her homework and is willing to challenge herself. From her cubicle, for example, she ventured onto the factory floor and ... learned how to handle a forklift. She is not just some label-reading conformist. And the SEALs coached her: Learn how to own it ... own what you do and think and say. Right, wrong or indifferent -- own it.

Was my daughter just some upscale dabbler learning how 'the other half' lived? I doubt it. It is, of course, 'the other half' which makes this half possible. When I was a newspaper reporter, I learned fairly quickly that if you wanted to know what the governor was doing, never call the governor. Instead, find the person two or three rungs down the ladder -- the one's who is actually doing the heavy lifting, shaping the policy, and, with some luck, owning it instead of just trusting labels.

Is all this just cute and a way of raising your own flag? Well, maybe a little. But having some sense of what makes the wheels turn -- actually makes them turn -- takes some balls. What anyone says may be very smooth, very memo-worthy ... but does it know its ass from its elbow and, more important, how does that reflection look in the bathroom mirror?

Maybe the Amish like to lay their directions at their God's doorstep. That's their business and they own it. An honest day's work, one during which it may be necessary to throw up with effort ... who will know? ... well, the owner will know. It's not a big deal on the one hand and yet on the other it is quite a big deal.

It reminds me of a time when I was trying to learn how to build a cabin in the woods. I got all kinds of articles and read and read until finally I landed on one article that began, "The first thing to know about building a cabin is that you are not building a cabin. You are digging hole. Anyone can dig a hole...."

Will my daughter turn out to run a fork lift? Maybe not, but she won't have to work herself into a throw-up tizzy when she finds she cannot. She won't have to pretend, which is what a lot of today's sorrows revolve around, I think -- pretending that you are something you are not.

Well, I'm not writing this well. I just was proud of my daughter. Readers may think that being proud of off-spring is a matter of d'oh! I don't. Witless pride is a cheap date, whether related by blood or not. My daughter is not a cheap date.

Own what you win. Own what you lose. Throw up as needs be. Poseurs are a dime a dozen ... sorta like sad people. I don't want my daughter to be sad.


  1. One setback after another, the latest setback this weekend triggered a long subdued trait in me, which approximately is more than just a death wish but a desire to outgrow and outlive myself. This is not for anybody or anything, but a simple desire not to let setbacks demoralise me, and not to allow opponents defeat me. Ironically this can only be possible recognising setbacks and opponents as they are, and that it is truly because of them that I can achieve the success that I once did and still do.

  2. Although I do not see myself living exactly like the Amish, there's much to be said about how wise their "oldstyle" way of life sounds. I'm not sure they can escape the damages technology may cause though... No need to have a cellphone, it appears a cellphone tower nearby is enough:

    1. I remember you once said "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen". Looks like the kitchen just grew bigger and is now taking over our homes.