As 2019 start, full of hope and potential, I can’t help but remember a lesson from my childhood.
As a child, Teta Alexa (Grandmother Alexa, and no relation to Amazon’s Alexa) used to tell me that I should measure success by the number of homes that I have. “You should have a home in every city in the world!” she would say. As a 7-year-old child, I remember being in a full-on panic. I felt I was never going to have enough time and money to be able to accomplish that. Then, as a teenager, I thought, “even my father had not accomplished that goal, so why was that my goal?” Then, in my 20s, I was talking to a friend who was going to take a trip to Europe. So I started to help my friend plan out his trip, and I kept saying things like “if you go to Milan, you need to ring up Oliver” and “if you go to Switzerland, ring up my cousin Robert” and “then there is my other cousin, Andre, in Belgium.” Well, then I stopped talking, and I started reflecting.
It had dawned on me that, in fact, my father was well on his way to having a home in many cities in the world, and I was not far behind. I remember overhearing my parents’ friends inviting each other to their vacation homes, and exchanging names of friends to contact when traveling and so on. I realized that my Teta Alexa had not been trying to tell me to gauge my “success” by the number of houses that I owned, as my 7-year old brain had absorbed with its non-abstract thinking. Instead, she was sharing her wisdom of how important it was to have a deep and wide community in order to enjoy a rich, connected life.
Real friends and connections are our most valuable assets. Friendships are the best investment one can make; simply put, you will always get a bigger return than what you put in. Through good times (and bad), celebrations (and struggles), the experience has always been more meaningful (or bearable) when it was shared with a friend by my side. By the way, I don’t make much of a distinction between family and friends. Not because I think so poorly of my family, but because I think so highly of my friendships.
So, do I have a “house” in every city in the world? No, but I have a “home” in quite a number. While I am far from having friends and connections in every city in the world, I continue to strive for that goal.
Do you have any lessons like mine that have been passed on from one generation to the next? I would love to hear about them in the comments.
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One thought on “Muse-A Home in every city”
This is a great way to think about your relationships, especially with people you don’t see every day. When I met my wife, I was struck by how she viewed relationships. To her, they were living things in need of cultivation and care. They were not unlike a fruit trees which require careful pruning, mulching and pest control. Love and caring are critical, but showing it is even more so. Your Grandmother certainly understood this and the “home in every city” is a brilliant way of measuring success. Thanks for sharing.