Letting Go

sonLast week my 18 month-old son, Cruise, started Montessori preschool.  The first three days my wife and I dropped him off he cried so hard he could hardly catch his breath, his chest heaving in great racking sobs.  By the fourth day, however, we were listening to him repeat his teacher’s name every few minutes on the way over, and when we dropped him off and gently prodded him into the classroom, he entered, stood, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and stared curiously at all the other toddlers crying around him.  When we came to pick him up at the end of the day, we watched him through the classroom’s observation windows sitting in a little toddler chair eating a piece of cantaloupe with the other toddlers, also in chairs, and drinking juice out of a plastic cup by himself for the very first time.  Rather than burst into tears when he saw us realizing we’d been separated from him all day, he ran up to me, wrapped his arms around mine, and smiled.

Even before he was born, any threat to his safety, real or imagined, would cause a panicky feeling to rise up and choke me like two hands around my throat, sparking in me an overpowering drive to keep him from harm.  Luckily, up until last week, keeping him protected was relatively easy.  His entire world consisted of my wife and me, our house, and our nanny.

But as I watched him sit in his little chair at his little table eating his little snack with his little friends, I realized I was already being confronted with the need to let go of my need to keep him entombed in our own little world.  At Montessori, I wouldn’t be around when another toddler took his truck or his blanket or refused to throw a ball to him.  Whether I wanted it or not, the outside world would now be able to touch him without me around to make sure it did so gently.

LETTING GO IS A SKILL

I realized as I sat watching him just how valuable the skill of letting go really is.  I know, for example, that if I cling to my drive to protect him past the point of rationality (where my emotions certainly take me), it might seem to cause little harm and perhaps even do some good but would in fact risk him not learning how to protect himself.  No real way exists to master any skill except by practicing it yourself.  Further, life will always take things from us we want to keep (sometimes desperately), and unless we learn how to let go of them in our hearts, we’ll continue to suffer their absence.

This realization led to me think about what other things I’ve had to give up that I tried to keep, thinking I needed them to be happy but which paradoxically caused me mostly pain.  Here’s a partial list of things I’ve mostly succeeded at surrendering:

  1. My need for the same degree of freedom I had when I was single.  How could any marriage possibly survive this?
  2. My need to be perceived as great in everything I do.  How could anyone possibly be great at everything?
  3. My need to be liked.  As I discussed in an earlier post, The Good Guy Contract.
  4. My need to be financially secure.  How long was I going to let fear prevent me from pursuing my dreams?

Here’s a list of things I have yet to give up that I know I must:

  1. My need for my son to be just like me.  No matter how much I may say I want him to be himself, there are parts of me I want to be parts of him, both big and small (my disdain for following the herd, my belief in the fundamental goodness of people, my love of learning and books, to name a few).
  2. My need for his childhood to be just like mine.  It’s not just that I had a good one, which I did.  It’s that I seem to believe no better childhood could exist, that my experiences are best ones for him to have.
  3. My need to protect him from painful life lessons.  How to allow him to challenge obstacles on his own while protecting him from real harm?  True strength can only be gained from fighting a real battle that risks real loss.  I genuinely believe it’s not in his best interest to always succeed (as if I even had the power to prevent him from ever tasting failure…).  How else will he learn to go on when he feels utterly defeated except by experiencing failure or devastating loss and then actually going on?  But to have to watch him fail…
  4. My need to forbid him from doing something just because I can or because it’s convenient for me that he not do it.  The worst outcome I could imagine from this would be for him to grow up afraid to try new things.
  5. My need to leverage his need to please me to get him to do what I want.  If it’s about keeping him safe, that’s one thing.  If it’s about trying to steer his life in a direction I’d prefer, that’s another.  Parents abuse this power all the time.
  6. My need for everyone to agree with me.  Why is it so important that others believe as we do?  I feel the tug of this all the time, yet I’ve never fully understood why.
  7. My need for my wife to behave the way I want.  It would be great if she existed only in one dimension as an automaton who made the central focus of her life pleasing me.  But then she wouldn’t be my strong-willed, fiercely independent wife at all.
  8. My need to control the exact outcome of everything that’s important to me.  Whenever I think about this one I only shake my head and wish myself luck.
HOW TO LET GO

How do you let go of things you don’t actually want to give up?  By deeply recognizing two things:  1) all desires are created out of beliefs about what you need to be happy and 2) you don’t need any one thing to be happy, no matter how attached to it you may be.  True happiness doesn’t ever lie in capturing and squeezing to yourself things or people, no matter how much you may love them.  It lies in cultivating an inner life state that’s invincibly strong, that can stand to lose its most precious attachments without being destroyed.  Paradoxically, this is also the life state from which you can enjoy your attachments the most.

Learning to let go, I’m convinced, is one of the keys to happiness.  This is because invariably letting go of something tangible means letting go of some delusion that drove us to covet that tangible thing in the first place (eg, wanting to become famous because you need others to love and worship you to be happy).  And letting go of a delusion is always a good thing because the delusions we believe are what set the height of the ceiling on our happiness.  How do you arrive at a place where you can finally let go of some of the things I’ve listed above?  For me the answer has always been by going through difficult experiences.  How else can we learn the difference between beliefs we hold which are true and those which are false?  Something has to show us, and unfortunately that something is almost always painful.

I look at my son now, at his barely formed personality, his nascent character, and conceive of him as perfect.  In reality, of course, he’s really just a mostly empty slate.  Soon he’ll evolve into a recognizable person just like you and me, with virtues and flaws just like you and me, who’ll experience joy and suffering just like you and me, and want to live his own life just like you and me—a life I’ll have to let go of wanting to envelop completely inside my own unless I want to add to the portion of misery life is already guaranteed to bring him.  I’m lucky the process will be gradual.  Otherwise I might not be up to it.

Next weekThe Importance Of Having A Mission

26 comments to Letting Go

  • Susan

    Thank you for being a voice of conscious, chosen sanity in this world—in medicine, in cyberspace, in the world around you. I’m grateful for your writings and heartened to know you’re here.

    Susan: What a warm thing to say! Thank you so much.

    Alex

  • Hi Alex,

    Again, you have chosen the perfect topic! Thank you.

    Releasing our attachment to people, things or a desired outcome is difficult under the best of circumstance, but when it concerns our children, it is harder. As parents, we are hardwired to fiercely protect our children from the dangers of in the world. Logically we know we won’t always succeed but it does not stop us from trying. Our duty as parents is to give them the space to make mistakes, to fail and to try again.

    Happiness for me is to really listen to the person I am with at that moment. Meaning not playing a prerecorded dialogue in my head of what I think the other person is saying. Giving them the space to express themselves. The connection you make with that person goes beyond joy. And if it is your child then, can you imagine the relationship you will develop with them? The main lesson I hope my son learns is that this moment is the only thing that matters, and within this moment he is the most important person to me in the universe. It also teaches him to be present and to learn effective communication.

    Learning to let go for me started gradually first when my grandparents, then my dad and finally when my brother died. Each time I was a wreck. It is a difficult lesson to learn when you are going through the process of grief but it is also the only meaningful way to accept and practice non-attachment. When you lose people close to you it puts into perspective all other types of attachments. Dealing with death has a way of doing that. I am not advocating non-caring; rather it is how you view death that helps with letting go and gives meaning to living.

    I am going through my own separation anxiety at the moment. I blogged about it earlier this week.

    P.S. The picture of your son is adorable. I think babies are born adorable as a defensive mechanism because no matter what they put you through you can’t help but love them madly.

    Don’t worry about how he will turn out, your wife will ensure he matures into a healthy well adjusted young man. :)

    Angelina: Death sure does put into perspective all other types of attachments. And you’re absolutely right about my wife!

    Alex

  • keisimone

    I like your writings. They are authentic and inspiring. I started with your “Good Guy Contract” post. It was wonderful because I saw myself acting in the same way.

    In this post, I saw another attribute of mine when you said that you have a need to be perceived as great in everything you do.

    I have wrestled with that greatly.

    On one hand, I can see that side of myself. On the other, I come to resent myself for even having such a need.

    I think letting go perhaps starts with accepting or observing that I have these needs. Somehow, just by observing, i will let go, albeit temporarily, of these needs.

    Just like your post enabled me to see them. Brings me calm.

    Keisimone: I think you’re absolutely right that letting go applies to accepting our imperfections and not punishing ourselves for having them. I’m glad the two posts resonated with you.

    Alex

  • Sally

    There are blogs and then there are BLOGS. I’ve only been reading you for a few weeks and already I look forward to your next post. I’ve also been looking into your past posts and you are such a breath of fresh air. No exaggeration. No hype. Just gentle observations and on-point advice and comments.

    Just curious. Have there ever been any Buddhist wars, extremism, violence, killings or terrorism?

    Thank you, sir.

    Sally: I’m so glad you’re finding my posts enjoyable. To answer your question, though individual practitioners of various sects of Buddhism have certainly behaved immorally (believe it or not, mostly Buddhist priests), I’m unaware of any large group of Buddhists who’ve ever committed war, extremism, violence, killings, or terrorism.

    Alex

  • James

    Thank you for this, Dr Alex.

  • rdp

    Alex, I found the introductory story you tell to start this essay so disturbing I had a bit of a struggle to push past it. The choice of the word “entombed” to describe the state of an 18-month old child at home with his family surely involves a judgment that places the needs and desires of the more powerful parents ahead of the needs of the child! With no nanny, no housecleaner, and no yardworker, there was nothing I wanted to let go of more than being on-duty 24/7 with my daughter. Yet, looking at the picture from the perspective of what would benefit HER most, what would tend to lead to HER being the most authentic embodiment of who she is, and at the same time engender respect for the values we try to live by, my only conclusion was that home would be the best place for her. I look at children (all people, actually) as works-in-progress. If they are taken from the armature too soon or removed from the cocoon too early, their development will suffer. Of course each parent has to figure out the sort of armature each child requires!

    I’ve lived long enough to know there are many ways to get to the same destination, but also long enough to see that certain choices tend, on average, to produce certain outcomes. Here are some thoughts in response to the things you list you have yet to give up in connection with your son:

    1. Yes, we often tend to want our kids to be like us—but why? Partly, it seems to me, because we want a shared context and we want to feel validated. But also because we hold certain values we believe to be sound. If you believe the love of learning is a positive thing, could you ever be happy that your child disdained learning? I wouldn’t be. But that is fundamentally different from wanting a child to BE like us. So our task, it seems to me, is to separate the different strands that produce the feeling into those worth paying attention to and those we should set aside.

    2. Same here. It’s probably inescapable that some part of us hopes to recapitulate our own childhood in the life of our child. Yet, again, it seems to me our task is to discern what the most important elements of our experience were, the most “nutritious” elements, and to try to make them available to our child in whatever form we can. Is it being read to? Is it having cross-generational experiences? Is it feeling at home in nature or being encouraged to draw? It is effortful to figure this stuff out—not to mention manage to provide for it, but this seems to me to be the true work of parenting.

    3. Your need to protect him from painful life lessons is, I suspect, really a desire to keep him safe. A good thing. The question then is: How can he be best kept safe? Doesn’t the strategy have to change as he grows? Keeping him safe at 10 is very different from keeping him safe at 18 months. Yet keeping him safe at 18 years old often relates to what you did to keep him safe when he was 5. Is he safer when he sees things the way everyone else does or when he is sturdy enough to see things his own way in spite of how others see them? What kinds of freedoms and restrictions will tend to lead to which outcome?

    4. I question whether a child is ever afraid to try new things because they are forbidden. More commonly, it seems to me, a child is afraid to try new things because s/he is either constitutionally timid or insecure in some way. Thus, once again, it is about strengthening the child rather than refraining from forbidding certain things. My observation is that parents fail to forbid their kids from doing things in the mistaken notion they are “toughening them up.” Also, because in this culture, it is the path of least resistance for the parents to go along with allowing more rather than less. Do you show your child disdain for following the herd by going along or by making your own judgments and following them?

    Reading the comments this essay has received so far, I can see I am in far left field relative to what most people took away from it—probably because my own interests congregate around culture and, specifically, its impact on our children. It seems to me we care very little for the true well-being of our children these days, having limited parental responsibility to providing as much stuff and enrichment we can for the child as is compatible with maximum freedom and ease for the parent. I wonder if this is the right formula.

    rdp: After reading your comment, I can understand why my use of the word “entombed” might bring out the reaction it did in you. I chose it not to say that putting a child in pre-school is the right thing for all parents to do when their child reaches 18 months but rather because my wife and I made a judgment that it was for ours, and my impulse therefore to keep him home didn’t lie in his best interest but rather came from a self-centered place in me (easier for me to keep him safe in a more controlled environment), and that for me to give in to it would indeed be to “entomb” him—that is, block the growth my wife and I think he’s ready for. Clearly, every family situation is different and requires a different set of decisions. My use of the “entombed” spoke more about my state of mind (as you note) than what I think is right or wrong for toddlers in general.

    I find myself agreeing with all your other points. Specifically with respect to your #4, I think nature (as opposed to nurture) does have a greater influence on a child’s comfort level with exploring new things but also that if parents forbid exploration because it’s inconvenient for them that it might have the effect of making a child afraid to try new things. I think you’re right that currently in our culture more parents suffer from an excessive degree of permissiveness which fails to teach children appropriate boundaries, which I don’t think that’s the right formula at all. Thanks as always for your thoughtful ideas.

    Alex

  • Denise

    Thank you for sharing this with everyone. This is truly something every parent should read. Your son is beautiful and very lucky to have great parents like you guys. All the best for all of you…

    Denise

  • rdp

    I so look forward to your honest and intelligent engagement with every topic that appears on these pages, Alex. I think I understand better now why you wrote as you did about your decision to send Cruise to school when you did. If you will allow an old parent one more observation, in the spirit of my wanting the best for EVERY child, I will say that no institution has yet existed (including schools) that cares for the well-being of any individual more than it does for its own survival/well-being. And I say this as a parent who had an excellent experience with a Jewish pre-school and whose child also went for a time to a Montessori school. The temptation is to conflate the well-being of the individual with the health of the institution (as it is to conflate the need of the child with the issue of the parent). The power differential acts almost like gravity that way. I agree, by the way, with your suggestion that letting go almost always requires going through difficult/painful experiences. The toughest part is to figure out WHICH difficult experience is the right one to choose! :-/

  • Tony LaPorta

    “My need to control the exact outcome of everything that’s important to me. Whenever I think about this one I only shake my head and wish myself luck.”

    Now I know why I have a sore neck.

    Tony: :)
    Alex

  • Di

    As a 3rd year medical student, I rely on some of your old posts to remind me of my new-found freedom through your blog and consequently reading the writing of Nichiren Daishonin himself. I happened to run across your blog this summer while studying for Step 1 and the two posts that I’ve copied and pasted into an e-mail and keep saved in my Blackberry’s inbox are the ones regarding confidence and power of resolve. And now, this one too.

    What struck me most was your emphasis on the things we THINK we need to be happy. I’ve attached my DEFINITION OF MYSELF to becoming a physician. When studying for Step 1, with only 3 weeks left and a dismal outlook, I thought it was all over. I imagined getting my score report, and jumping into a well (not that there many wells really scattered around the US of A anymore ;o) )…something that at any other time would have caused me to roll my eyes, but at the moment, it was just too humiliating to even think of what else I would possibly DO with my life if medical school didn’t work out.

    So curious little me went on the SGI-USA website, and found comfort in a lot of what Nichiren Buddhism says, putting a lot of the quotes on little post-it’s and scattering them around my study area and even the kitchen where my parents could see. One that my parents of Eastern-origin (Hindu) loved the most was about study being the practice of religion and faith for the youth (from the quote-of-the-day). To be honest, it didn’t change my thinking as much as provide the clarity my over-wrought, over-stressed mind needed… it was the answer at the end of a long scavenger hunt of trying to find the “answer,” only to have someone kindly laugh and tell me, “right there, in your pocket.”

    Removing myself from the BELIEF (and that was the hardest part—acknowledging that it really WAS a belief and not a cold, hard reality) that external factors (including people, grades, and even foods) = happiness (not so I didn’t enjoy them but so I wasn’t RELIANT on them) made me an almost instantly happier, lighter, freer person…and that happiness has only grown over the past few months, along with acquiring a deep sense of contentment and inner calm. I’ve often likened the latter two to the inner peace one finds the retired couple experiencing as they sit on an old bench swing on their porch. They don’t yell at their grandkids like they did their children, they don’t nitpick or stress-out day to day about the things they used to stress out about…they find relief from the external influences that used to guide their life and enjoy it, probably from the realization that those things really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, especially at this stage of their lives.

    At 25, I feel blessed to experience that feeling of RELIEF and ease that I may not even have experienced at 65 (and with better skin! Well, sort of—3rd year wears you down hard!) had I not been enlightened to the fact that the very thing I’d been searching for each and every day was right inside. Happiness is not a decision, It is not something to be found. It is something to be acknowledged and PRACTICED every day.

    Aligning one’s life with that of the universe, connecting with the energies manifested around us (string-theory almost), and finding true joy in other people’s joy has comprised much of my new “practice” of faith, along with the chanting whenever I can.

    It makes sense. It clicks. And it puts a smile on my face each and every single day—earning me hugs from my patients and comments from attendings including, “has an extremely upbeat attitude, works diligently to find answers when others often give up, and is able to empathize and establish excellent rapport with patients without losing objectivity and sense of judgment.”

    Thank you—I look forward to your posts each week and find peace in the practice (albeit inconsistent at times) of Nichiren Buddhism. And just in time too—surgery rotation next!

    Di: I’m so glad you’ve found my posts helpful and more importantly that you’re trying out the practice of Buddhism!

    Alex

  • Hi Alex,

    Just a bit of a different perspective, although I do not argue with your desire to let go of “control” over other people, circumstances, etc. I also applaud letting go of excess “ego,” as it holds us back from having genuine relationships with others. I also enjoy your posts and think you are a wise and wonderful man.

    What I do think needs greater examination, though, is why you are feeling you must “let go” of an 18-month-old. Now. Many parents rush this process. It is painful for child and parent to be separated when the child is still so young and dependent.

    However, strong, independent children are the result of a secure childhood, not from being thrust into situations beyond their ability to handle. Strong bonds with their primary caretakers and meeting age appropriate challenges successfully are the keys.

    It can also feel like one is letting go when what is really happening is an eager relinquishment of responsibility. Everyone who is an exhausted parent wants his/her own life back, and the more exhausted, the more pressure for this to happen. A parent’s life, as you know, will never be that self-centered life s/he had.

    Children survive because of and in spite of their parents, of course, but healthy children signal when they are ready to move ahead. Many new parents expect children to have the mindset of much older people. I equate this to expecting your ten-year-old to have your 35-year-old sense of humor. Impossible.

    Hence, what 18-month-old feels safe when taken away and left somewhere without a parent? Yes, he may learn to survive, and the more resilient the child, the quicker, but why put him in that position? A year or two later he may relish the playtime and eagerly jump out of your arms the very first day, ready to socialize with more tools than the parallel play of your child’s age group.

    Of course I understand the financial considerations and survival needs and how hard it is to find a good at-home caretaker, but 18 months is still very young. Toddlers are highly impressionable and if you want your child to be “like you” in ways beyond genetics, then spend more not less time together. That time transfer values, knowledge and those fabulous social skills so prized by our society. He’ll learn in preschool, but not what he would learn with you or his mother.

    But I think I have taken your post too seriously (you shouldn’t have mentioned he cried for 3 days…) and without the rest of the information on how you interact with your child I would have to assume you are a loving, thoughtful and good parent.

    My objection was the feeling I had that you were separating—when it was obviously very uncomfortable for you—as a way to make your child better suited to… separation? I wasn’t sure what this skill accomplishes at this time in his young life.

    Candidly, I think your own instincts served you well, but your head got in the way. But what do I know? I’m just somebody else’s mother and grandmother. Many of the moms I know struggle with partners who react as if a dependent child is something that has to be “cured.” To me this is the “throw him in the pool” school of swimming.

    A human at 18 months old is not a cat or a dog or a horse. A human is incredibly dependent and lacks the means to care for itself until years later. Our legal system recognizes that most children under six cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy, but we want our 18-month-olds to be secure and independent in a Lord of the Flies peer group. Hmmmm…again, just thoughts from the dark side (which is the other side of 50).

    Luckily, no parent has to be perfect, just good enough. I’m sure your child will grow up happy and well-adjusted, and a lot like you.

    Elizabeth: Thank you for your wonderfully compassionate comment. To fill in a few gaps: my wife and I decided to enroll Cruise in Montessori because we believe in the quality of the Montessori method and because he’s demonstrated to us clearly he needs more socialization than we’re providing, not at all because we’re eager to relinquish responsibility for him in any way (quite the opposite in fact). His reaction was entirely normal for an 18 month-old and since the first three days he’s loved going (I, on the other hand, cried for 3 months when I first attended Montessori—and then loved it for three years). I mentioned my need to begin to let go of protecting Cruise at the beginning of the post not because I’m ready to let him start fighting court battles on his own but because this one transition got me thinking about how a parent must let go of a child in measured stages and that it’s difficult not to want to shield your child from all the hurt the world has waiting for him. Which then got me thinking about the value of letting go at the appropriate time and how often people struggle with it. I was in no way attempting to separate from Cruise in order to teach him how to separate. I agree he’s quite young to need to learn that lesson, one that should also I think come in graded stages.

    Alex

  • Dangerous Book for Boys is a good book that goes along this same line of thinking.

    Isaac: Haven’t read it. I’ll check it out, thanks.

    Alex

  • Jimmy

    “I’m unaware of any large group of Buddhists who’ve ever committed war, extremism, violence, killings, or terrorism.”

    Sri Lanka.

    Jimmy: Good pick up. Hadn’t thought about Sri Lanka. I stand corrected.

    Alex

  • Thanks very much, Alex, for the expanded comment. Somehow I knew I only had part of the story, but wanted the reassurance from your end which you graciously provided. (The grandmother in me, I’m afraid.) Certainly I understand your thoughtful musing on the future, and, of course, there are relinquishments that will continue. I also put my children in the Montessori system and love the system. Take good care of that baby and yourselves.

  • gail

    “In reality, of course, he’s really just a mostly empty slate.”

    Every baby is born with a personality and character. Neither are fully formed but nature defines so much of every person, positive and negative, from birth. A parent’s role is to love, keep safe, and guide but most importantly, accept their child.

    I enjoy your blog. Thank you for writing it.

  • I loved reading this post. It was a great reminder of how freeing it is to: “Just let go—give it up—and quit having to control things!”

    As a parent of grown-up sons and now a grandparent—I’ve got to tell you—you can let go, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy—or that you don’t still worry. You just know it’s out of your control.

    I think you might appreciate this wonderful advice I got from Norman Fischer about when to offer advise to my kids—or to anyone else, for that matter—and when to keep quiet.

    The Best Advice You Can Ever Give Your Grown-Up Kids

    http://www.happyhealthylonglife.com/happy_healthy_long_life/2008/03/the-best-advice.html

  • Pete

    Alex,
    Glad to have my computer back so I can read your blogs and am especially glad that you are married to my daughter and the father to our grandchild. Both are well cared for in a loving, thoughtful, emotionally rich environment. I sleep easy knowing you are with them.

    Pete: What a wonderful thing to say. Glad to have you back in cyberspace!

    Alex

  • Alex,

    I am new to your blog and, oh, did I enjoy this post! I want to print out your list of things-yet-to-give-up and tape it to the wall.

    I also have a toddler and am constantly reminded of that familiar quote about how having a child means forever having your heart go walking around outside your body.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and compassion.

    Julia: Glad you liked the post! I think I need to tape my own list to my wall, too.

    Alex

  • Bonnie

    This is an excellent piece Alex; I appreciate your insight.

    One piece of advice I heard a number of years ago: “The best gift you can give your children is roots and wings.” Those words have served me wisely as I moved through the various stages of parenting. Now that my adult daughter is nearing the end of her college education, I understand I need to encourage her to use those wings. It isn’t easy, but is very necessary…for all involved.

  • Jacqueline

    Goodness, “I”, “my need”, “my wife to behave the way I want” and mini-me? Sooooooooooooo much ego. Let go the ego. Let contentment be.

  • Mary Carlisle

    Jaqueline,

    Having known Alex and his family for years he is FAR from ego driven; as a matter of fact he is one of the most thoughtful, sincere, and caring human beings, husband and father I have ever known. You’re way off in your judgment. Did you even read the full meat and potatoes of the entire article? Perhaps it’s a reflection of your own ego you see. Just a thought.

  • Jacqueline

    Mary Contrary,

    I have not known Alex and his family for years and consequently, have no bias. I understand that you viewed my comment as offensive. I do not dispute that that is your perception. My comment results from a reading of Alex’s article and not from extraneous experience with the writer, his family or a view of him personally. Ego is the “I” or self of any person. Less emphasis on ego brings more contentment. In so saying, I am not attacking your friend.

  • Rebecca

    Alex,
    A funny thing just happened. I was dropping my son off at the Montessori school, and as I stood in line to check in, I saw the name of your son come up on the screen. I think you were in front of me in line! I just discovered your blog last night, and you were on my mind. This post resonated with me in particular since our son also just started with the school in September.

    I’m looking forward to reading your older posts. I am a financial planner, and am hoping to bring a similar mindfulness to my practice. While I don’t have to worry about feeling responsible for my clients’ deaths, last year’s market crisis had me feeling like I’d destroyed their lives. Thanks for doing this!

    Rebecca: What a strange small world! I was in fact just dropping Cruise off! I’m glad you liked the post.

    Alex

  • VerseZ

    Thanks! I really needed this post today. I’m going to keep coming back to it from time to time. I’m going to be a mom soon, and your words have fit perfectly in my thoughts. Fit better than all the mommy and parenting books I’ve been reading. Thanks!

    VerseZ: Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your child. Parenting for me has been a wild ride, far more enjoyable than I even expected.

    Alex

  • Annetta

    Alex,

    I just came across your article today. I found it to be very inspirational and exactly what I needed. Thank you so much.

    Annetta

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