Friday, August 24, 2012

Integrated Life, or Not

A few days ago I was talking to Anna.  She is a museum director and a mother of two sons, ages 16 and 20.  We talk occasionally about kids and being parents.  We were talking about Chalid and  how sad the whole situation is.  Anna read my wife's blog posts on Chalid and how my wife strives for integrity, including integrating all the parts of her complicated life.  I made an an off-hand remark about admiring that quality in her and not being close to emulating it.

Anna said, "Well, of course.  You are a man, she is a woman.  She will try to tie her life together.  You won't."

OK then.

She is right.  I sometimes imagine that when I retire from full-time work and am out of the Army that I will be able to integrate the pieces of my life.

But then again maybe not.

The workaholics were in Heaven in Iraq.  They worked for weeks without a day off.  No family, no household chores, no birthdays, no anniversaries.  Life was work--life was happy.

I am reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who stood up against Hitler and was killed by the Nazis.  His life shows one way a man can have a fully integrated life.  He spoke against Hitler almost from the day Der Fuhrer took power and devoted his life from then on to protecting the Church in Germany against the Nazis.  Bonhoeffer integrated all of his life by having a single focus and bringing everything else he did in line with that goal.

Bonhoeffer certainly is a model for how a guy can live an integrated life.

By the way:

  • I am writing this post on the train to work where I read or catch up on my blog.  This is the solitude part of my life.
  • When I get to work I have many tasks that will promote the museum where I work.
  • When I get home tonight, I will be a spouse:  my wife is hosting 25 freshmen for dinner, classes start next week.
  • Toward then end of dinner I will switch from spouse to Dad and take the boys away from dinner and do something with them for a while.
  • After dinner, I will send the boys upstairs with the iPods they get only in the evening while Annalisa and I watch "Mad Men."
  • Tomorrow morning I will go on a 40-mile ride and from the time I leave the house, pretty much focus on riding.
I'll still be a disintegrated mess when I retire, but at least it will be closer to home.