Writers read. It creates deeper thought in our brains, sparks creativity, and adds connections to our ever philosophizing minds. One of my favorite things about quarantine life is having more time to finish books and sink into articles that add more depth, challenge my beliefs and make me think. I finished Mom & Me & Mom this week by Maya Angelou, and it left me inspired to do my best job even better. To any mom out there feeling discouraged or unseen for the job that you do, I can’t recommend this book more. It will remind you of the importance of your efforts and the blessing of the bond that is ours to foster. These two women were utterly inspiring in the way they traveled their path of history and the mark their character left on this earth for others to emulate long after they left us. It is an incredible reminder in these times that human beings have foraged daunting paths before us with incredible success.
Their lives reinforced my belief that when we have the courage to be ourselves and not judge people harshly, we unleash our power to make an impact and lift others at the same time.
Here is another article that caught my eye this week. Not only do I practice social distancing, I also practice distance from the 24/7 news cycle, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of my few trusted outlets for solid information. Since I always like a good sports story, this one cut to the heart of my belief that sports develops character on the court that carries us through life. People often ask me, why do you send your son to a private school when there are good public schools just down the street. My life experience tells me that every child is different (I’m on my third high school with three different kids). My decisions are also shaped by my own experience, having transferred to a small Catholic high school my freshman year from a bigger public high school. It was the first great decision of my young life. The more intimate, faith based environment, changed the way I viewed myself as a person in the world, and I am grateful for and, thanks to social media, keep in touch with, the teachers and coaches who shaped this time in my life still today. San Joaquin Memorial High School gave me an environment where I felt seen and heard, and built my confidence that I had something to contribute to the world. Before this daily experience I had a hard time finding my footing in larger schools. Although my high school was a diocesan Catholic high school, my son attends Loyola High School, a Jesuit Catholic high school, like Dr. Fauci did. The philosophy of creating “men for others” is exemplified by Dr. Fauci’s life and confidence to speak truth to power, and was formed both on the court, and in the classroom, of St. Regis High School, a Jesuit high school in NYC. Knowing this way of thinking is infused into my son’s day at a formative age, along with try guidance, gives me hope that he will recognize his duty and the impact he can make on the world from a young age. I often worry that he won’t understand the place of privilege that he was born into in our society. Although he has certainly experienced some difficult times in his life, his path and the genetics that he was born with, including parents that love him, a roof over his head, financial resources, and God given talent and intelligence, make it easy to take a position of privilege for granted. Perspective is a trait that can take a lot of work and years to develop and I work on infusing it in small ways daily. Loyola has done an amazing job communicating and educating their students in this difficult period of time and I’m continually grateful for his experience.
A few days later, when I read my favorite weekly column, this quote created the connection between my thoughts about his Jesuit education and the natural advantage he has come by in this life.
“The key concept that everyone has to understand is hardship generally makes people stronger. Fear, challenge, threat, - unless they are extreme - tend to produce growth, not damage.” -
The COVID-19 pandemic is a hardship on so many levels…social, emotional, economic to name just a few. We are being forced to wrestle with feelings of loneliness and disconnection that cut to the heart of what matters most to the human experience. My heart hurts for the seniors out there that are missing the traditional conclusion of these formative years. But more and more, I see that they are in training for greater things, I hear it in conversations of gratitude and appreciation around the dinner table and in their ability to laugh even under difficult circumstances. The younger generation has the chance to let this hardship grow them in ways that will make them stronger, grateful and more self aware at a younger age…what a gift. We never know all that we can gain from heartache unless we have the courage to sink into it. The challenge in this time is have the courage to self reflect and connect the dots, and that is one of the trademarks of a Jesuit education. The lessons are here for us to come through this stronger and more united. Easter is a celebration of rebirth and resurrection. Can we know ourselves better and be inspired from within by our own sense of purpose and ability, and emerge from the time with a deeper sense of connection and purpose? If we can, our society will be a greater force for good when we emerge from the great pause.
P.S. - I realize that the WSJ requires a subscription to read these links I posted, here is the link for the introductory offer if you are interested.