Hello and good day!
I have my in-laws in town from Peru. They've been staying with us the last couple of weeks.One of the travelers is my brother-in-law, my wife's youngest brother. It is his first time visiting the United States. I haven't been able to spend too much one-on-one time with him over the years.
When we go to Peru, it is usually a wild and busy scene. My wife has four brothers, she is the only girl sibling, and there are a lot of cousins and nieces and nephews running around all over the place as well. There aren't many free moments to sit and listen and take a long hard look at a person.
But on this trip, I've been watching him and hearing him and pondering him. And it is becoming clear to me. He is the new and improved version of his father. That, in my mind, is a great compliment.
My father-in-law is an extraordinary man. He was born in the city of Chiclayo, a big northern Peruvian beach city. He married young and took a job in a remote mountain town in the northern Peruvian Andes. In addition to supporting his family and raising five kids, he also started a Christian congregation. My wife tells me of times when the service was held in her living room and her father would stand up in front of his wife and children and give the sermon.
Some 50 years later, the congregation is strong and thriving and my father-in-law is revered. Services are no longer held in his house. The congregation's parishioners love many things about my father-in-law, but what stands out most is that they appreciate his lifelong dedication to obtaining and dispensing wisdom.
Above all, he is a wise man. He is admittedly financially poor, although he was a successful business owner when he needed to be. He put all five of his kids through higher education. Once his children moved out and became self-sustaining, he closed the business and focused 100% on his calling.He hasn't made or accumulated very much money since then, but he is content with his lot and wouldn't have it any other way.
Now back to my brother-in-law. He is a wise man in the making. I told him that I think he is becoming his father, but he didn't agree. He seemed to think I meant in physical appearance. According to him, he looks more like his mother, who passed away young, and who I was never able to meet.
I didn't push the issue, but in my eyes, he is starting to look very much like his father as well. Same expressions. Same mannerisms.I don't think he wants to look like his dad. But that isn't primarily what I was referring to.
I was talking about the light in his eyes and the way he searches for answers to life's hardest questions. I see how he is with his sons. He isn't satisfied with the dad he is today. He wants to continue improving.
He exudes love. On a walk through the park one evening, he pulled me aside. "Adam, do you know what my biggest takeaway is from this trip?" he said. "What is it?" I asked. "I'm going to be an even more affectionate and loving husband when I go back home," he said. That is a strangely good insight to take back from a vacation.
For the sake of comparison, my big takeaway on my last trip was that nature is huge. Not much practical value in that, although I suppose sufficient awe and humility in the face of something more powerful than yourself can't hurt.
I like his takeaway more than mine though, by a long shot. It shows that he is always thinking about how to be a better person. Having a good relationship with your spouse casts a wide net. It influences every part of your life. I commented above that he is becoming the new and improved version of his father.
I want to delve into that a bit. I don't know what exactly the mechanism is, but somehow or another, most of the people I know become a version of their parents. It doesn't happen to everybody, but it happens to a lot of us.
I know that it is happening to me. I am very much a half and half replica of my mother and father. Of course, none of us gets to choose our parents. We're born to them with no say in the matter and then one day we're destined to become them.
That's a strange thing, isn't it? Strange though it may be, that is how it mostly seems to work. There is a wrinkle though. We are able to improve upon the shortcomings of our parents, thus becoming a better version of the model.
That is as it should be.
For example, every generation of smartphone that comes out has new and improved features, even though it is essentially the same device. Most technologies don't show up as a complete break from previous developments. They spring out of a long history of accumulated knowledge about engineering. Improvements occur one step at a time until after many iterations what looks to be something brand new makes its appearance.
But in truth, everything is grounded in the past. Our very nature is a relic of all that came before us, for better or worse. We all have a grievance or two against our parents, things we promised we'd do better when we grew up.
So, you become your parents, with a couple of updates installed and a couple of security glitches patched over. Then your kids become you, but slightly better, and so forth. It doesn't always turn out like this, but it seems to me that it mostly does.
If what I'm writing is correct, then humanity is usually getting better all the time. I know a lot of people wouldn't agree, but that is my view. Things don't have to be perfect to be on the upswing.
When I see a young wise man in the works, it gives me a lot of hope. There must be millions upon millions of wise parents in the world whose children will soon become them. This is a beautiful thing because to my mind wisdom is the primary ingredient for a harmonious community.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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