On Friday, my plane touched down in the wrong city. I don’t mean that literally as I had booked a flight from D.C. to Chicago to see Colleen, and my plane did, in fact, land in Chicago. But my mom called me a couple minutes after we landed and gave me some news that helped me realize that I may have been in the wrong place.
Last week, my grandpa had one medical problem lead to another and quickly found himself in the ICU. My grandpa is in great shape and a fighter, and is unsurprisingly making a quick and seemingly full recovery. But on Friday, I spent the day leading nearly 100 diplomat colleagues and at least one ambassador through various team building exercises in the woods of West Virginia. My brother, on the other hand, took the day off work and spent the day at my grandpa’s bedside playing cards.
So who was in the right place? I don’t know the answer to this. But I do know that the choices I’ve made in my life are gradually taking me further away physically from my family and these important moments. This time I was only a phone call and a few hours away – able to grab a bus or a plane back home if I needed. But soon enough, I’ll be half a world away, incommunicado except through Skype or email, which are painfully slow communication devices in an instant communication world.
I talked about this with Colleen, and I told her – truthfully – that I don’t have regrets about this. After all, I didn’t choose between my family and myself. What I do and where I’m going, I chose because of my family. I want a better country for them. I want a safer world for them. I want a smarter and more complete me for them. But sometimes that just seems too idealistic to not seem cold-hearted and fake. This kind of feels like one of those moments.
So these are the choices we make, and we do our best when we make them. I hope mine are the right ones…
Who said it: Modest Mouse
Why it’s relevant: My grandpa’s first name is Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse was a very modest mouse indeed.
“Looking towards the future
We were begging for the past
Well we knew we had the good things
But those never seemed to last
Oh please just last”