It’s been a rich and full 10 days since I was last in our home in Evanston, and I’m glad to be returning.
The trip was full of gifts.
Gifts like unhurried time and deepened ties with family and dear friends.
Gifts like learning about India, a country I’ve only previously visited in books and movies, through Mike and Annie’s stories and pictures from their month-long honeymoon in the former jewel in England’s crown.
Like delicious and abundant meals from Italy, Korea, Thailand, France and Japan topped off with delectable desserts from Mexico and other destinations.
Like plenty of time to twalk with Dunreith over San Francisco’s rolling hills and through the sacred silence of the majestic redwoods in Scotts Valley.
As always, these spaces are like shared meditations in which we range from the present back through the past and onto the future, all with the goals of connecting deeply with each other and helping each other lives our fullest lives.
Like the space to reconnect with the pleasure of reading fine books in English. Michael Lewis exposed the moral bankruptcy, utter absurdity and often surprising hilarity of corporate capitalism in Liar’s Poker. Sherwin Nuland taught me about Dr. Michael DeBakey and others who aged gracefully in The Art of Aging, while James Autry and Stephen Mitchell fused Taoism and management principles in Real Power, teaching that we and our projects can be both perfect and have lots of room for improvement. Michel Foucault educated me about prisons and the consequences of the move away from public executions in to Discipline and Punish, a work I’ve not yet completed, and fearless Chinese dissident Wei Jinghsheng showed in The Courage to Stand Alone the inability of even the most oppressive incarceration to break his will and resolve that China ultimately become a more democratic society.
Like the satisfaction in a pair of successful Dart Society events, one I attended with journalists in Tucson who covered the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, and the other I heard about in New York, where we convened a panel to discuss the second and latest issue of our magazine which focuses on precisely the kind of solitary confinement Wei Jingsheng endured.
Perhaps the greatest gift is that, by reflecting and writing about these sources of joy, entering my life that way is becoming more a habit.
I don’t mean this as a sense of routine or obligation, but rather as a more standard way of approaching and thinking about my life. It’s not that I didn’t do it already, but rather that taking the time to name and share them helps me feel more in touch with my life’s abundane and fullness, rather than with the inevitable frustrations, setbacks and disappointments that are part of daily existence.
These were each beautiful experiences, and I’m grateful for all of them.
And, after having had the expansive relaxation that vacation can provide, I’m also excited to head home, to resume the daily rhythms of life in Evanston and Chicago, and be with Dunreith as she starts to chart the next stage of her adventures of discovery and growth.
I’ll write more about that soon. Until then, though, from 37,000 feet above the ground, next to my wife and soul mate, who’s reading a Kenzaburo Oe novel while I’m writing this, I’m singing off.