Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Long and the Short of it

In a very real sense, as consciousnesses participating in the world, as cogitos, all we have is time, and therefore the most important decisions we make involve time allocation and time management. Most of these decisions involve balancing long-, middle-, and short-term considerations. Money, as a unit of value representing stored labor (expended time), facilitates the management of time. It is a means, in a sense, of time-shifting. To a limited extend, one can work hard in the present and store up units of time for the future.

The problem is, we don't know when we're going to die. X-factors like cancer, inattentive driving (on our own part of others'), and chronic diseases threaten us at all times. These risks can be managed to a certain extent by managing how we behave (diet, exercise, sleep, mindful vehicle maintenance and driving, etc.), but there are significant risks that lie well outside our spans of influence.

On Friday, I went to the funeral of the dad of a family that were neighbors of ours in Durham 45-odd years ago and who went to the same church as us. Good people, not our twins in every way, but fine folx. One of the sons in the family spoke about his dad during the service, and he told stories of the great vacations they had gone on as kids and the memories they had made together, all six of them driving across the country to California in a station wagon ("I'm not sure that's even legal anymore") or circling the Arc de Triomphe five times before figuring out how to exit the traffic circle. Great stuff.

Which really brings it home that the most important decisions I can make now are to build strong memories for my family, and yes, vacations are an important part of it. We're supposed to travel to the UK this summer, and I know I really need to pull the trigger and start booking the trip, even though the conservative part of me keeps whispering that my practice is not yet generating enough revenue to run the household in a cashflow neutral way, and the markets are kind of iffy, to say the least.

Which raises another question. How important is it, fundamentally, that vacations be fancy? In some sense, traveling broadly exposes one's kids to a variety of the world and opens their eyes to difference.  I know the UK ain't that exotic, but I've got Graham's food allergies to think about, and they both love Hogwarts.

One the other hand, "seeing the world" is really just a marker of class status, a way to say "we are rich enough to travel.," Good memories can be formed locally too.

On balance, though, I really need to just pull the trigger and get this done.

Mom tells the story of how, in 1988, she and I were set to go travelling in Europe right after I graduated from college, and she got a phone call with a fantastic consulting opportunity. The guy who called her said she should come to Chicago or wherever right then. We were at the airport. She said no. We had a great trip. She got the gig.

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