Last week my wife Jan’s Facebook page displayed the revelation that one of our grandsons is “in a relationship”- to use the official Facebook terminology. Quite a few people, including cousins and at least one sibling, had indicated that they “liked” that posting. Jan and I toyed with the idea that our grandson’s grandmother adding her name to the list by pressing the “like thumb” might be highly amusing, but we quickly came to our senses and the conclusion that it would no doubt be mortifying even though our grandson is a person of amiable good humor. This episode led to reminiscence about our family. When I married Jan, I inherited three adult stepchildren whom I had known for a number of years. Jan has expressed relief on many occasions that we did not get married while they were still at home because she is convinced that I would have been far too overbearing, a point that I sheepishly concede. All three children have been married for some time, and we have been blessed with ten grandchildren. Jan and I agree that I am doing much better at being a grandfather than I would have as a stepfather of pre-adults.
Detachment has never come easy for me, but it is essential for living a healthy and balanced life. Detachment provides the necessary perspective for each of us. As I write, some of our independent school peers are visiting our campus for a few days as part of an accreditation process. This visit was preceded by a thorough institutional self-study process encompassing eighteen months and producing a 196-page self-study document. On occasion during those months I encountered the temptation to take more control and insert myself intrusively and unhelpfully into the process. So detachment remains a challenge for me, but I am happy to report that I resisted the temptation. As a result I believe that our self-study is more authentic and more collaborative than it would have been had temptation not been resisted.
This illustrates to me the benefits of detachment. The detachment of which I write has nothing to do with passivity or indifference. It is rather the detachment reflected in the words of the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.
This prayer is a daily source of comfort and direction for me.
A footnote: So far I have managed not to be a pest with our visitors, but the temptation is still there. And they will be on campus two more days. Wish us- and them- luck! Actually I know that there will be much to celebrate and much to learn. After all what better place than a school to celebrate and learn?
Until next time…