Monday, November 1, 2010

Take a Breath - Remember What Matters

There are days when I feel foolish, spending time on thinking and writing about the college admissions process. Of course understanding the process is necessary as is providing informed guidance and having freewheeling discussions about college with our teens. But it is just college, for gosh sakes.

Here's what really matters. Life, family, caring for others. In the past several weeks a dear and long-time older friend had a stroke: she is recovering but her life will never be the same. A lovely young neighbor has had health issues. And the beautiful, smart and talented mother of a dear friend died. Yes, she was 87, but her decline was so fast, so difficult for her and her family; so very sad for her friends.

It puts things in perspective. Let's appreciate and love our teens -- in this moment, at this age, even if they sometimes make us crazy, even if they don't do things the way we would, even if they don't get into the schools they wanted -- or we wanted for them.

In reading Ted Sorensen's obituary today, a somewhat related thought occurred to me. As much as we hate to admit it, success often comes on the wings of luck. Here's what President John Kennedy's speechwriter (an oversimplified adjective for a man's full and long life) said about himself in his autobiography, Counselor. "I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans can be rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden encounters with heroes,” he concluded. “I believe it because I lived it.”

We never have total control of when our dearest leave us, or of news that isn't to our liking. So let's take charge when we can -- and show our family and friends, every day, how much they mean to us.

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