Thoughts on love, family, and North Carolina
For a while now, I have had long-term plans of checking out and quite possibly settling in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. That area, between Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, is known for its high-tech industries and highly educated populace. As I see it, living there would be like living in DC, except that people would be friendly and not as absorbed in work, politics, and other things with which elites occupy their time. My hope is that it would also provide social opportunities with people more like myself (i.e. those who are intellectually curious and ambitious, but laid-back and easygoing). Yes, I am talking about dating as much as I am talking about making new friends. More, really 😉
Anyway, I haven’t actually been there yet, so this is all speculation based on a number of positive reports of the area. I have a roadtrip planned for next weekend, however, which will allow me to scope things out. Specifically, I will be trying to figure out if it is possible to transfer to one of the grad schools down there, and/or find a good job. As I like to put it, I’m not married to anyone, nor to DC, nor to George Washington University, so if I find a sufficiently appealing option elsewhere, I’ll take it!
I just finished talking to Tiff on the phone, and catching up on her blog. I learn good things from the examples of each of my family members, and one thing I always take from Tiff is the happiness that comes from parenthood (although she may be tempted to question such a perception). Single life is much easier than married/family life, I’m sure, but I know it is not as fulfilling, and far from the end-all of existence. Whenever I visit with family – especially when there are nieces and nephews involved – I feel like a dormant part of me comes alive again. Much of it has to do with love, I think. A life focused on meeting one’s own selfish needs is hardly a life at all, it seems. Real joy comes through putting others first, from living for others. My guess is that this kind of love comes about only in the most sacred of human relationships, those between husband and wife, and between parents and children.
During the Christmas holiday, Dad shared a quote by Dag Hammarskjöld (not a household name, but a wise man, nonetheless). He said:
It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.
I have thought much about this quote since Dad shared it with me. It is the kind of notion which flies in the face of conventional wisdom of single people like me (and yet, so unlike me!). If I ever brought it up in class, my peers would scratch their heads in bewilderment, and not just because I’m talking about Dag Hammarskjöld in an economics class 🙂 To clarify, I am not against laboring “diligently for the salvation of the masses”, and I certainly do not think it ignoble. However, I am completely convinced that family life is more important than any other aspect of life, and I strongly suspect that to ignore and replace the impulse for family with other things, even very good things which help other people, is to miss the mark. Such a realignment may even be motivated by selfish reasons (fear is another plausible motivation). After all, a happy family comes about from hard work, self-sacrifice, humility, discipline – in other words, a happy family is costly, and not everyone is willing to pay such prices. I’m reminded of Leo Tolstoy’s keen observation in the beginning of Anna Karenina that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Admittedly, I didn’t get very far into the book, but I interpret this to mean that the happiness of a family depends on the application of certain principles, and that the failure to discover, commit to, and apply such principles may very likely lead to the discovery of a unique brand of unhappiness! Some innovations should never be made, I say 🙂
So, to sum up, families and love are good, and North Carolina might be good too!