Expanding Goodness: Balancing Family and Professional Life
This episode examines efforts and challenges to balance family life and public, professional life.
Good morning, at the end of my last podcast, I promised to create a second part to those series of thoughts. I'm sorry that it's been a little long in between, I apologize for that. That last podcast was an inquiry into the relationship between or creating balance between being critical of oneself and feeling confident and sure of oneself, as both of them are contributors to my advancement in my growth, the expansion of my happiness and what I can do for others. So I want to continue along those lines, to examine a pair of paths to the good I hope to do in my life. It's this pairing of two things, that is the consistent link between the podcast balancing criticism and self approval and self criticisml. And here I want to examine the relationship and balance between two sides of life, basically, family and vocation. Basically, people who are self examining about life, people who make a study of themselves are serious about the passing of our days, strive in a in a consistent design, to try to improve ourselves to try to put in practices and regimens in which we can try to get a sense of if we're progressing or not. That's not everybody, by the way. I'm not sure. But I think a great many people just wake up every day and just start their day. And their days just pass until there's no more of them. And then at 40, or 50, or 90 or 100. And they pass on. And I'm not sure how I'm not sure how that's done humanly. But I think a lot of people just wake up and go through their day. They're not they're not really consciously trying to create anything of themselves, I guess, that's substituted for by designs and goals or ambitions, like by 30, I'll have a million dollars or things like that. So they have a different set of goals. And that's how they're measuring. Okay? That makes sense, okay. If it's a lot or a few, I don't know. But for those who think their lives have as a primary purpose and goal, to become better people, and who tried to find ways on a daily basis, to nurture and to invest in and to try to strengthen and increase this pursuit of self improvement, to be that self improvement to be a better gymnast or a better pianist, or something like that self improvement to be a better human being. How much work went into becoming a great chef. And yet, we know of certain chefs that some have made themselves famous, who are incredibly abusive and hurtful. Directors, film directors, singers, tenors, famous tenors, who invest massively at self improvement, and yet turn out to be extremely self indulgent, and hurtful individuals. And somehow, somehow that's understood to be concomitant with their talent. And so it's just part of the package or I don't know it's an entertaining personality. This one guy anyway, this chef, I guess, same way, traffic forms on the highway, you stopped you gawk at a car wreck. So this chef made himself famous on TV you gawk at his utter incivility and utter lack of control over his temper. Anyway, I'm just making a distinction here up front, on the difference between various forms of self improvement or self betterment. Some people measure self improvement in the sizes of the houses that they buy over the course of their career in life, these sets of thoughts, I want to try to bring into higher relief or make more clear the tension. So we have a single life, we're trying to become better people.
And in the pursuit of that, we have two separate and distinct paths or tracks, call them tracks, we have a family track, and we have a vocational or professional track. And these, I believe, exist in tension in some way, whatever we invest in the expansion of ourselves in our professional career, I think must just because time is finite, comes at the expense of what I might be doing to invest in family. And whatever I'm doing to invest in family must, to some extent, or on some occasions, be at the expense of time, I might otherwise invest in the increase in and growing capacity. In my profession. Oftentimes, people think of family as the singular place in which I should develop those qualities in my character dedicated to love and kindness. And often think of profession, as that area in which I develop skills and talents. And mastery. This is, in some ways, true, but I think that's not really a proper distinction between the two. I think professions and vocations should be arenas for the growth of love and kindness. And I think families should equally be arenas for the growth and expansion of skills, talents, capacities, and so forth. So, if all those things exist in both tracks, then what is a better way of distinguishing the quality and, and style or, or nature of how one invests in the two areas, the family is an expansion of the self. So the first thing I should be doing is have some sort of regimen in which I myself, I'm working on myself, this can be through yoga, meditation, biblical study, prayer, scripture, attending a spiritual community having a spiritual master. All of these things are all parts of making myself better as an individual. As I do that, the second thing that follows from that is the expansion of the goodness that I tried to create in myself. And that's what expands into two distinct and separate arenas. In one arena, it expands into family. In the other arena, it expands into profession and vocation. So again, we have a similar dynamic, we have an improved self, which I create day by day, by my own striving and efforts. And that constant improvement then manifests itself out through into larger and larger arenas of influence. So eventually, the first signs of family: Well, you grew up under parents, and they author the relationships into which I make my best efforts to function as a brother or sister or as a child. But the first step in attaining family for which I myself am responsible is to marry. And so marrying is the first step, family wise toward expanding the good I tried to do through my self discipline and self regimen. So I ended up bringing to a wife or wife to bring into her husband, all the good that she has become so far, and all the good that she strives to improve and become day by day, but that's only just two people. And then, of course, his in-laws. So once you marry, you're actually taking care of someone's daughter and you have a relationship, or son and you have a relationship with the people who care incredibly about that woman or man, that their parents. And so you have a relationship you have shared concern for the happiness of a given individual. So your relationship expands into at least three people. And then the next thing you and your wife or you and your husband can do is produce children and And the relationships expand, they grow more complex. And then over time your children add people into your family they marry, they bring other families into your family.
And so this individual self, that you work on day to day by the regimen of self improvement towards greater clarity, greater kindness, greater awareness, greater enlightenment, and so forth, what you're working on is, is passing through an ever larger unit of family. And this is an area in which you can say the rubber meets the road if I'm becoming any good than all of the people through whom I'm gaining. I'm a part of influence will benefit from the efforts I make on myself, that's that's an entire ever expanding, arena, ever expanding arena, until there's at first one, or first two, or the your parents, brothers, sisters, a few, then you marry a unique aspect of yourself, your conjugal aspect of yourself touches just one person, then three then even more, so that your work on yourself is actually a center of influence or a possible arena of care. For 10s hundreds and hundreds of people, it's an ever expanding expression of where you can invest in the good person we tried to be privately and in our own daily regimen. The other reason is vocation. And in vocation, your growing group is not by blood, but by common vocational purpose. If you're in the medical community, if you're a doctor or a nurse, if you're a part of a symphony orchestra, or part of a rock band, or your your relationships are from commonality in purpose, so that the real distinction between the two arenas is not where one is talent, professional, striving, ambition, and the other is love and kindness and hanging around and sitting on the porch rocking and playing the banjo. It's not the distinction, the distinction is that we expand, ever expanding a sphere of human influence is, is by blood. And the other ever expanding sphere of human influence is by common purpose, common vocational purpose and common interest. And so the way to understand the distinct ways of investing and distinct ways of performing and, and striving in these two contemporaneous arenas that we try to balance in our lives, is to study and become aware of the difference, what's different about being in relationship by blood. And what's different about being in a relationship by common interest, common purpose, and common vocational design. So if I'm building a car, if I work in a Porsche factory, I make a careful study of the ideal way to be perfectly loving, perfectly giving all the exact same elements that I bring to family
Is there an elder guy struggling on the assembly line? I got to love that guy,
I got to love that guy, like my dad, or like my ailing elder brother, or it's all the same. It's all the same dynamics of interpersonal relationships. But what's different is that blood is a distinct form of relationship and common purpose and common interest. This is the same form of, of relationship. Blood is its own definition, it needs nothing more. And it doesn't break, you can't break it, you can behave badly. You can cut somebody off or stop relating to members of your own family. Yes, but it doesn't break, it never goes away. It's eternal. The pursuit of common goals and interests to produce Porsches or to produce symphonies, it's practical. There are legitimate ways of leaving a person forever, which is in no way a failure or breakdown, it's positive, both need to go do the next thing and need to move across to different departments in the organization. So, the small point I want to make in this second part of balance and goodness, is not to make a false bifurcation. Between striving in the arena of family and striving in the arena of vocation. They are one in the same. What they are meant To be is the expansion of the good I tried to create through my personal self discipline. It's the arena's that are different, not not my purpose in them, my purpose is always to increase the positive welfare of the people with whom I'm in relationship. producing a Porsche should be done, for the sake of its drivers, the families that will be transported the joys on vacations to transport to schools, the labor should be for the positive welfare of the sister beside me who's trying to make some money to send her kid to college and the feelings of the purpose, the way the goodness is identical. It's the quality of the relationships and what is legitimate in their preference, in their definition. That's what is different. And that's what should occupy our attention. Once we increase and improve our grasp of the different qualities of the two arenas in which we ourselves are doing the identical same thing, then the tension between those two will diminish greatly. And we'll be able to live our lives in a far greater range of harmony as we pass through, trying to bring to the world, our talent and goodness in the vocational arena, and our talent and goodness in the family arena. Thanks a lot for listening. We'll talk again soon.