It has taken me years to get my son to the point where he can now walk, talk, eat, shower, dress and entertain himself for a while, but now that we finally have the basics covered, life is really getting interesting. Every day I get bombarded with serious questions about life, as he clearly starts to try to make sense of the world around him. Of course, little does he realize that this is going to become a life long mission.
As I try my best to provide answers that will help my son understand his surroundings, I am reminded of all the wonderful teachers I had in my own childhood that helped shaped my ideas. I am also grateful for the lessons provided by my peers. My best friend from boarding school once told me, “the best thing about you Gina is that you not only learn from your mistakes, but from all of those around you.” She is right, I spend a lot of time observing and trying to learn from the mistakes of others, and in the past decade I have seen some of the most brilliant people in DC make some of the worst mistakes in their personal lives. That might seem odd, but it is actually quite easy to explain– these people are methodical and logical in their work-related decisions, but their personal life decisions are based on emotions. Unfortunately, when we make decisions based on our emotions, we are not thinking with the front part of our brains, which govern logic.
I am not trying to advocate that we become a bunch of emotionless robots– honestly, I think what makes life so interesting is the way we each express ourselves and our feelings. As all the Shakespeare plays illustrate, life is the great stage in which our passions our played out. This is of course, a much easier lesson to teach to a seventeen year old versus a seven year old, but at any age the point that needs to be made is that human beings are complicated creatures, and we do not all have the same emotional or intellectual capacities. We may never make sense of those around us, but what we can do is try to give ourselves enough time to understand our own thoughts and emotions, find the best ways to express them, and somehow find a way to protect our inner tranquility while enveloped by the chaos created by others.