Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living the Good Life

Last Friday, my daughter was admitted early decision to Tufts University, so the anxiety of the college application process is passed.  One of her essays asked her to describe the environment in which she was raised and how it influenced the person she is today. It's worth sharing her observations on what constitute living the good life:

"At this moment, from a room of windows, I can see tall pine trees framing a beautiful, soft green yard. A little vegetable garden lies to my right, with lettuce enduring the brisk autumn wind. Above it stands a lone maple gradually turning brilliant shades of fire. A heavenly light illuminates the clouds passing overhead in the vast baby blue sky. The wisteria climbs the windows to my left, waiting for a warm spring to show its beautiful lavender flowers. The wind passes through the wooden chimes hanging from our crabapple tree, initiating a clonking chorus. Bamboo lines the white rock river with a little wooden bridge. A stone bench rests near the fence, where my father sits and plays his Shakuhachi (traditional Japanese flute). Cardinals, sparrows, and grackles fly overhead, seeking food, warmth, and family. As I open a window, a rush of sweet, crisp autumn cold fills my senses, making me shiver. These wonders surrounding me in such a welcoming, beautiful, and inspiring home and community fostered an appreciation for the subtle things in life. I learned to openly embrace the world around me, understanding and loving its everlasting beauty. Nature is a teacher and a gift, one never to be overlooked. I’ve grown as a student, an observer, an appreciator, and a believer in the magic and beauty of the world."

As a parent, I want my daughter to feel good about herself.     In her essay, she highlighted the simple things that bring richness to her life  - a vegetable garden, autumn colors, and a supportive community of family and friends.

I can understand her point of view.

As I write this, I'm sitting in an old Morris chair, sipping Gyokuro green tea, breathing in wisps of smoke from Blue kungyokudo incense. Breakfast will be a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with a few drops of Vermont maple, and soy milk.  

The ability to sit quietly and think, enjoy wholesome foods, and enjoy the warmth and comfort of a small home while the weather outside is cold and blustery gives me an overwhelming sense of well being.

I hope my daughter continues to appreciate that the good life comes from the basics of food/clothing/shelter/family/self-worth.

Tufts University is a great fit for her and I'm confident the next four years will polish and amplify the foundation she's already built.    As she creates her own version of the good life, we'll always be available for advice and support, but as of next Summer, she's a fledgling, exploring the world on her own.

6 comments:

Kristina said...

This is a refreshing post. One can seldom see teenagers and even kids appreciating the basics and what nature offers. You have done well as a parent. You have raised a humble, straightforward, strong, confident, smart and kind hearted daughter. It's about upbringing. And you did one hell of a good job! Kudos!

N. Venkatraman said...

Congratulations John to you and your daughter....

John Phelan said...

John, Congrats to you, your wife, and your daughter. Enjoyed her writing and her point of view, both expressed beautifuly. My daughter, Amanda, just found out she was admitted to NYU Tisch school of the arts. I think it is important as parents to support the true passion of our children and watch them grow.

Glenn said...

John, Congratulations to your daughter. I've read your blog for several years and followed your challenges with raising a daughter. You and your wife have done a great job of raising a confident, smart young adult.

Lara Halamka said...

Thank you Dad, and thank you to everyone who left comments as well! ^_^

Scott Korvek said...

Congrats to you and your daughter. As a Tufts alum, I can say she made a great choice.