Reflections from vacation time

I just spent a week with my family down in Southern France on vacation.  What follows are some of the main insights I gained while on the trip.

  1. I have entered the second phase of my life.  First, there was all of my time up until the twins were born.  The second phase is my new life as a diplomat.  This period will last between 20 and 27 years.  Then will be the third phase of my life, when I am largely professionally retired.  The first phase of my life was primarily about gaining a conceptual understanding of things.  The second phase of my life will primarily be about gaining practical wisdom, bringing the conceptual understandings I gained in the first phase into daily life and actually living my life in the way I have learned.  The third phase will likely largely be about sharing what I have learned and learning how to transform ageing and death into the path.
  2. My original idea for my career path was Europe, East Asia and International Organizations.  I still want to do this.  Originally, however, I had the idea of weaving a fair amount of teaching and study into my career, such as at FSI, etc.  I am now thinking that because my main goal of this phase of my life is gaining of practical wisdom it is better for me to pursue full out reaching as high of a career state as I can because it is in the higher positions that I will be most pushed to live and gain practical wisdom.  In any case, the final goal of my professional life is skill building because it is only these skills and personal qualities (and the karma that I create) that I will be able to bring with me.  I am currently thinking I will develop a higher skill set if I pursue higher position (as opposed to interesting conceptual ideas).  This is somethign I need to continue to think about.
  3. It is very important for my kids overall rounded development for them to go on vacation.  It is not just about school, but about becoming a fully rounded person.  By visiting family and doing new things, they explore, adapt, build karmic connections and grow.  This is very important for their development.  In particular, we primarily vacation in Southern France and in Spokane because that is where their extended family lives.  It is very important to build up and sustain these connections which will then last a lifetime.  Claudine has been extremely helpful in this regard – she has made it happen, and I am grateful to her for that!
  4. I tend to publicly praise (meaning praise in front of others) my eldest daughter, which is good because it helps her build confidence.  But I need to be careful that I don’t do it in such a way that it builds jealousy in the others in the family.  It is vital as a parent that I see the potential in my kids and help them see this same potential, but if I don’t do it in a balanced way between all of my kids it could have a negative effect on the others.  This is something I need to be careful about.
  5. I was explaining to my eldest son how cultural differnences have a role to play in the Eurozone crisis, and I was explaining the difference between the Germans and the Italians.  He said what is better?  Neither is really better, but a lot of the differences are explained by the weather.  Italians spend most of their time outside in pleasant surroundings, the Germans are inside because it is colder.  Regardless, I said you should work like a German, play (and dress…) like an Italian, keep your environment beautiful like the French, show solidarity like a Nordic person and maintain a can-do, friendly and sunny disposition like an American.  Then he said I guess that is why my home is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  6. Claudine is really an outstanding teacher, caregiver of babies and builder of family ties.  She also has tremendous practical wisdom and intelligence.  She also has other qualities I can’t talk about in a public blog!  hee hee  The point is, these are her main strengths and where she adds the most value.  My job is to create the conditions where she can put into practice these qualities.  I need to support her in her professional career, support her to go visit all of our grand kids when we eventually have them, and support her in building connections within the family, in particular between our kids and both mine and her family.
  7. Different people add value in different ways, not just professionally.  My eldest daughter is also really good with family and building connections.  Some people add value within a family and there is nothing wrong with that – we shouldn’t just judge things by the professional contribution one makes.  A woman’s place, of course, does not need to be taking care of the family and home, but if a woman chooses to do that with her life it is certainly not a fault!  I need to not always view things through such narrow lenses.
  8. The more I think about it, the more I need to learn how to interact in the virtual world that is being built (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.).  This is where the world is going.  The generation coming through now is quite correctly called the Facebook generation.  I need to learn how to interact in this world because it is the new world, to better understand the new generation, and more importantly to build and maintain sangha relationships.  It is very hard to have virtually no sangha access, and these new virtual communities are a means of building and maintaining that karma.  I really need three – one for my sangha, one for my non-sangha friends, and one professionally.  Facebook is appropriate for the first two, and the professional one will develop in the context of my professional life.  I neglect my friendships and extended family and I shouldn’t.
  9. What my second daughter needs is clear but fair expectations that are enforced in an uncompromising but loving way.  It is good to give her freedom, it is not good to let her become “sauvage”.  The trick with all parenting is enforcing clear limits without getting angry.  The key, I think, is to view everything through the lens of our job as parents is to teach and train our kids.  They misbehave because they do not know any better – this is true of all of us.  Out of ignorance we do all sorts of wrong things, but we don’t realize these things will just make our lives harder and worse.  So we need to help them understand.
  10. I want to publish the Dorje Shugden debate, the why we don’t mix on this blog.

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