Family time over material things.
I am a questioner by nature. When someone else espouses a position to be true and right, I immediately start an analysis. In Rick Warren's follow up book to the immenseley successful "Purpose Driven Life" called "Better Together" he called out the popular notion of "quality time" in favor of the much simpler concept of "quantity time." As a young father who was working two jobs, one of which included two hours of driving time each day, this called into question my quest to provide comfort for my family through my work.
I began to recall my own childhood as the son of a very busy father. Although my dad started college the same year I started kindergarten, what I remember most vividly about those days was not the long hours my dad was in class, but it was sharing the kitchen table with him completing our homework together. Each summer we spent "vacation" at the lovely resort destination of Hillsborough, NC at a campground, while my dad worked on graduate studies nearby at Duke. While he worked diligently at his studies, he made sure not to sacrifice time with his family. This compromise made a three-year graduate program take nine years to complete, but taught me a lesson in what truly matters.
So while I have been enduring the ordeal of a professional catastrophe the past four months, I can take much pleasure in the opportunities it gave me to spent much "quantity" time with my children. I was able to attend school parties, soccer games, swim meets, birthday parties, and other "normal" rites of 21st century childhood. Yet it also opened up avenues of creative activity that I would never have been able to even consider. What follows are some examples.
Alex, my 11-year old daughter, always presents her craziest ideas to me because I'm most likely to say yes. When she playfully asked if I could save her from her math teacher that day, I did just that by picking her up just after lunch and taking her along while I went to study at George Mason. I also played a significant role in planning her "Hunger Games" party she hosted for a group of friends, by crafting trails criss-crossing our 7 wooded acres.
Christian, my 9-year old son, and I spent a day at nearby Camp Red Arrow installing hinges on the access doors to the well pump. He is very service minded and has provided many ideas to occupy our time cleaning, fixing and other sweat inducing endeavors. It was a distinct pleasure to have been able to say yes.
Caleb, my youngest son, is as close to a time-warp picture of myself at age 7. He is a never ending supply of "Dad can we ________?" possibilities, and I have made it a life mantra to find a way to say yes as often as possible.
I have turned my family into hoarders. However, what we hold onto most tightly would never require us to rent a storage locker. We hoard experiences which we recount on trips in the car to our next adventure. Did I mention that we only have one television and no video game system. Objects serve us best when they represent authentic experiences. Without the time for those enriching experiences, our stuff simply points to opportunities lost.Camp Red ArrowDaniel Boone campground is gone...but Daniel is still there