Monday, February 06, 2006


Waking up early on New Year's Day was an interesting and sobering event. The night before my 18-year-old pride and joy said that this had been the best holiday time in her life. From a person of such age that is quite a compliment. Adding to that the incredibly nice and sweet holiday cards and thoughtful presents from students made me realize that I had excelled in the two things most meaningful in my life, raising children and teaching. It was nice to feel so happy, especially with my soulmate sleeping next to me. I may have had some hard times, most of them caused by abusive people, but what do they amount to compared with all that genuine love surrounding me. I realized that a long nightmare was over. One of the great mistakes of my life was what I had done as profession for so long. That job is far better suited for a person without a heart or intellect; often completely meaningless work, which I'll elaborate on more at a later date. The Guardian wrote some excellent articles on this matter recently.

Looking at my partner for over a quarter of century I realized how fortunate I have been. There is no need to chisel away all the plastered make-up to see what she really is like; neither do I have to put up with a woman who chooses to look or act like a Stepford Wife. How many of us are able to finish each other's sentences every time, or throroughly enjoy disagreeing and agreeing with each other the same? Not only is my wife one of the finest violinists and musicians anywhere, more importantly she is one of the greatest human beings I've ever met and known, honest and compassionate. I pity men who are stuck with nasty and toxic women; or perhaps they deserve them.

People don't seem to understand how it is possible that one is so fortunate with children as I have been. What is the magic of bringing them up? The secret: let them be in charge of their own upbringing; tell them if and where they have erred and encourage them to find their own path in life. None of my daughters has ever been punished: if they have done something wrong, they have known it and made sure on their own that it didn't happen again. Young people have an excellent sense of what's right and what's wrong. The motivation to do something right shouldn't happen out of fear of being punished but from reasons of conscience and moral values. At an age when most young adults want to get as far as possible from their parents and barely keep it touch, unless money is needed, it may seem odd to many that a strikingly beautiful and independent young lady chooses to drive home often weekly and call her dad daily, just to check. The children were never pressured to choose a career: they have done great choosing on their own. So many parents force their offsprings to follow in their footsteps, perhaps hoping that the children will do better than they themselves, be that in music, business or whatever field. Granted, my kids have attended a lot of concerts but it has been out of their own choice, not having been forced to show up like trained animals. Perhaps they'll end up genuinely loving music as well as other forms of art.

As far as those couples go who have chosen not to have children, having dogs or cats is not the same as little human beings, no matter how this matter is argued. A retriever may look at you as if you are a god or goddess, but a child will test your love and often put up a fight. Granted, parenthood is not for everyone, but too often people just want to care about themselves and not others. Selfishness and a family don't mix. Thinking of others before yourself is something many of us are incapable or reluctant of doing.

A little more than a month ago there was an interesting special on television with Barbara Walters regarding different religions and their beliefs in afterlife. Most of the people interviewed were incapable of thinking outside of their box. Outright frightening was a would-be suicide bomber who didn't care for martyrdom or the promised virgins: he just wanted to kill Jews. Kind of sad was the Catholic clergyman who said that when his body is finally risen, he hopes he'll have a head full of hair again. Had Ms. Walters been a Muslim, there would be handsome and pleasant young men waiting for her in their paradise, just as men have their young virgins. Hands down the most interesting and sensible person interviewed was the Dalai Lama. He was incredibly charming, to the point that Ms. Walters asked if His Holiness wouldn't mind if she kissed him on the cheek. He chuckled and after the kiss he showed how the Maoris do the same thing in New Zealand by rubbing noses. I'm presently reading his book "The Compassionate Life." There is true humanity in the world after all, although much of the time one wonders if that is the case.