December 30, 2013

Weighing Values

I had lunch with a colleague of mine the other day and he shared a story about how his grandfather, an Eastern European Jewish immigrant, came to this country as a teenager in the early 1900s. He started out pushing a scrap cart, mending clothing to make a living and ended up attending Phillips Exeter Academy and later, Harvard.

My friend's grandfather went on to build a successful real estate development business and retired at 50 to an island in the Caribbean.

As he spoke of his grandfather, I could sense how much the man had meant to my friend and it touched me that he would share the story.

Since my own grandparents, who have impacted my life greatly, are always at the forefront of my mind, I got to thinking.

My family spent some time over the holidays watching old home movies, including some I'd never seen before where my great-grandfather recounted aspects of his life story.

With little more than an elementary education, my grandfather went on to hold many jobs and eventually become a minister. In the video, he said that by age six he could identify every tree in the forest by its leaves and/or the taste of its bark.

I always knew he had a vast knowledge of nature, but this astounded me and still does.

In life, we place value on so many different things. Some might say that a Harvard education is more valuable than being able to identify trees. But I believe both fill an important need in our society.

What we value says so much about us. Sometimes we don't even realize where we are placing value, but it is often evident by how we spend our time or energy. I'm not much for making New Year's resolutions, but in 2014, I hope I can keep my focus on the things that really matter.

[image via  byErvin Bartis (contact)]