Conversations with a 15 Year Old

The question came from my fifteen year old daughter just after we had dropped Nana off at her home.  It is our weekly ritual on Sundays to pick up my mother at her independent living home and spend the day with her.  Then, after a wonderful dinner prepared by my wife (who really is an inspired chef) we drop Nana back off at home.

Most of the time our rides home are filled with un-important conversations; a discussion of her favorite J-Rock band (she’s into everything Japanese right now) or something she saw on YouTube.  Tonight the conversation started with, “Dad why is everyone so involved with having material things if , in the end, you won’t have any of it”.  Wow.  It’s funny, everybody always talks about how many thoughts go through your head in a short periods of time and I experienced that last evening.  Where did that come from?  I thought about something I’d read  about how Elvis Presley was haunted by the Bible passage about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven, in his last days.  How long is this drive anyway?

As a stalling tactic I asked what she meant.  I know, not very original, but I simply was not prepared to answer that question.  She expressed her disgust with her peers for always wanting the coolest, newest gadgets and how, in the end, they don’t mean anything.  And then, the conversation took an unexpected turn.  After I told her that it’s natural for human beings to want what they can’t have, she went off on a different track.  “I’ve noticed that all of my friends think that they are going to be this or that when they grow up, but all they’re interested in is smoking or partying.”  Ah-ha!  My chance to go into full Dad mode had arrived. 

I lectured on the importance of hard work and how nothing can be achieved without it.  I told her how, when we started our cleaning company, we worked 10, 12, 15 hours a day trying to get our website up and running, trying to find clients and researching cleaning agents.  I extolled on the virtue of doing something you loved versus just working for the money.  I was a revival-tent-evangelist preaching the gospel of hard work.  I preached about how, if you do the thing you love and you put your whole heart into it, you can make money and be satisfied with who you are. 

In the end, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  Doing what you love and loving what you do?  Being surrounded with friends and family that love you for who you are and not what you can give them.  My daughter, in her 15- going-on-40 way, was right.  In the end it won’t matter if we had an iPhone or a vacation home in the south of France.  What will matter is how we lived our lives.  Why did it take a 15-year-old to remind me that chasing after profits is not what matters?   The name her Mother and I chose for her must have been divinely inspired.  Thank you, Grace.

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