October 11, 2007

A random sort of an update

I have not had a lot of time to write and nor have I had a lot of time to string together a coherent, much less organized thought. So, throughout today, I am just kind of going to peck away at an entry. I am going to fill this page with random, disconnected, patternless thoughts and reflections. You can tell one from the next by the "* * *" I will use between each one. That's about it. Let's begin.

* * *

Apple picking with children on a warm October morning, moving from tree to tree on a steeply pitched orchard hillside, followed by ice cream and a warm apple dumpling. That is a mighty fine way to start a long weekend.

* * *

Taking the kids by myself on Columbus Day while my wife was out during her thing was nice. I had the boys in bed for their naps and the Girl Child all to myself. We settled down for some serious cooking.

First, we took some our newly picked apples (Gala and Cameo) and made apple sauce. I have a great recipe for that. You take 8 apples, peel and core them and cut them into chunks. Add 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons water, some cinnamon, and cook them over medium heat, covered, for about a half an hour, until they all are sort of mushed down. You will know what looks right. It tastes fabulous and is especially good warm.

Then, she helped me wash and strip a huge amount of basil so we could make our own pesto. My wife bought this garbage pesto from the store and I was inspired to make the real thing. We bought fresh basil from a farm stand, fresh garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and we had good olive oil. Put it all together, and it is a thing of beauty.

* * *

Hunter trials are fun. Do you know what they are? A horse show that involves the horse going at a gallop and jumping hazards that are meant to mimic what you would see in the woods if out hunting foxes. You know, downed trees and streams and fences. Very cool. I took the kids to watch as I thought the Girl Child might find it inspiring.

You see, the Girl Child was just on a pony that decided to jump all by itself over a fence. The riding instructor told me that most kids would have freaked out and started to cry. Not my girl. I was told she laughed. I was also told I have one tough, fearless little girl. *sigh* I have decidedly mixed emotions about that.

* * *

The Boy Child came home from pre-school and told his sister that he had started yoga and that the class went into New York City. She doubted him. She wrote a note to his teacher (her old teacher) that posed two questions: Did the Boy Child have yoga and did the Boy Child go to New York City? Yes or No, please circle the word you want to use and sign your name next to each question. The teacher complied. I wonder how much trouble the Boy Child will be in when she finds out he did not go to NYC.

* * *

The Boy Child attended the next level up in the group class for cello at his Suzuki music school. The teacher played bits of music for her class and asked the class, and then the parents, what song she was playing. No one was able to answer a single question. The Boy Child, just visiting from the class below, then answered for every one, confusing only the 2nd and 3rd minuets, I was told. It got to the point where the teacher simply played the song and turned right to the Boy Child for the name. The teacher was amused that he knew every song by name and by the opening notes.

I am more than a little bit impressed.

* * *

I have been contemplating wealth of late. I have been wondering, what would I do if financially I was no longer required to practice law for a living? What, if I had the financial means to do anything, would I do with myself?

I have no idea. Do you have an idea about what you would do? If so, would you share it with me?

Part of my problem is the pressure I feel to make the "right" decision. This is not a new problem. I have always felt compelled to make the right decision with regards life choices but I have never understood, until recently, and even now my understanding may be imperfect, that there may not be such a thing as a right decision. Life goes on in stages and it may be that a decision you made some years ago, thinking that it was the right decision that would set you on the correct course for many years to come, well, it may be that the decision has been rendered incorrect merely by the passage of time and the change in life events.

So, I am trying to pull away from the thought habits of a lifetime and try not to say, ok, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. That simply is too much.

No, the "right" decision is the decision that most closely matches up between your desires and your responsibilities (both as currently existing and as reasonably projected). For instance, your desire may be to go live in Florence (or wherever) for a year. But your responsibilities (including providing proper schooling for your kids) may preclude this. In that instance, you need to either find a way to align the two things or modify the desire side of the equation. And always remember, your desires (at least mine, but I am fickle) can change in a very quick period while your responsibilities tend to linger and remain and not change as quickly as your desires.

It is the match that may lead to a "right" life decision.

Or so I am thinking this week.

Still, I have no idea what the "right" decision would be for me if I didn't have to practice law to pay for such mundane things like food, riding lessons, squash court fees, mortgages, etc.

What would I do? What would you do? And, how would you go about figuring out what you would do?

For the foreseeable future, mind you, this is an entirely theoretical discussion. OK?

* * *

So, another member of the family has been diagnosed with cancer. A cousin, a close cousin in his 60's, has been the pain he has in his hip and leg is not related to a back problem but instead is bone cancer.

I feel quite powerless to help or do anything. He is a lovely man. He kept my father company while I was being born.

* * *

I am not excited by the impending (sooner than I would like) turn to 40. The odometer ticks over soon and I kiss goodbye to my thirties. They were, on balance, good years. I will reflect on them further, no doubt, in another post -- I certainly don't lack for the impulse towards maudlin self-directed nostalgia -- but I think the whole idea of becoming 40 is weighing me down, just a bit.

* * *

I think that, while I could continue, it might be time to bring this to a conclusion and just post it. And so, why not?

Posted by Random Penseur at October 11, 2007 12:34 PM | TrackBack

You'll kick 40's butt...It's not so bad.

Posted by: Howard at October 11, 2007 05:03 PM

If I didn't have to worry about making mortgage payments, I'd quit my job and focus on me. And I don't mean that selfishly. I'd get healthy. I'd take care of my house better, I'd volunteer with groups that I wish I had time for now. I'd read books, I'd raise children the way I want to raise them, with all the time to give them that they deserve, and I'd take them to see the world. That's what I would do if I didn't have to work. Just try to make the world around me a little better, one moment at a time.

Gee that sounds nice.

Posted by: caltechgirl at October 11, 2007 05:45 PM

RP, I've often asked myself that very same question. My wife has often asked me that question, too. My answer continues to be that I haven't the faintest idea.

I went into law because when I was young it was expected in my family to go into either that or medicine and I was hopeless at organic chemistry. When I voiced doubts about being fulfilled by my career, Dad used to say, "If it was fun, nobody would pay you for doing it."

It was only fairly recently that I was finally able to say, "Yeah, my parents probably made a mistake in pushing me in so narrow a direction, and I probably made a mistake in letting myself be pushed."

But there it is. I'm in the middle of the period of my life where abandoning what I'm doing would be supremely irresponsible in terms of my obligations to my wife and kids, even if I knew exactly what else I would like to do. But I don't mind, really. For one thing, I find fulfillment more and more in non-work-related things (said family, spirituality, intellectual interests). For another, I counsel myself to be patient: once the gels are off on their own, if I want to take a year in Florence or go get a Masters in history, well, then, dammit, I will.

Oh, and 40? Not so bad, at least what I can vaguely remember of it.

Posted by: Robert the Llama Butcher at October 12, 2007 10:07 AM

OMGosh! You're only turning 40?! Live it up I say, the 40's are very good years.

As for the GC jumping, WOW! I completely understand. There is just nothing like the feeling you get when you feel that horse bunch under you and you soar over that obstacle and land, still in your saddle. And for her to be fearless, well, that's just priceless. Good for her. Keep laughing GC, it only gets better!

If money was no object, I'd go home, plant and grow my garden, work on that never ending to-do list, putter, volunteer doing things to help people, read millions of books, nap. Or I'd start a used book store. You know, the kind with overstuffed chairs and cats in dusty corners. I'd hunt estate sales and find books for people. I'd brew tea and throw open the windows to invite everyone in. Yep, either of those. Or both. If money were no object.

Posted by: jules at October 12, 2007 02:46 PM

I know all about those hunter trials...

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at October 14, 2007 10:17 PM
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