During my junior year in high school, I became very close friends with a baseball player named Henry Hedeen. My immediate family is a very insular – we rarely spend vacations or holiday time with other families. However, we’ve started a Thanksgiving tradition with the Hedeen family, something I never got to experience in my adolescence. We have a great time together, stuffing our faces and enjoying each other’s company. It’s also an opportunity to share a variety of different experiences. While we all now live in Stanwood, a conservative farm town in Washington state, my family has spent over 25 years in Southern California. To add to the contrast in experience, Henry goes to an interdenominational Christian college, while I attend Stanford University (two schools with very different approaches).
Between our two families, we have a wide variety of opinions on every topic – race, politics, sports, anything you could think of. We always have good natured talks about these subjects, making a legitimate effort to consider another perspective. I appreciate this dynamic so much; I know how easy it can be to avoid these sensitive topics altogether. I really enjoy the fact that we can have rational, mature conversation about these things, giving each person a chance to share their personal experience. This year, we took the conversation in another direction. We spent a lot of time asking questions, with the younger folks directing their inquiries to the parents.
My time at SCL has influenced the way I think about that sort of terminology, framing a time point in your life as a peak.
I asked the parents about a piece of advice they would give somebody my age (22). Universally, they gave the same answer: follow your passions, not the money. Henry’s father, Karl, told me to “take risks while you’re young. This is the prime of your life – the time you don’t have a kid, don’t have a family. You can do what you want, work the job you want to work.” It was interesting to hear this answer – I think I was expecting something along these lines, but the words “prime of your life” really stood out to me. My time at the SCL has influenced the way I think about that sort of terminology, framing a time point in your life as a peak. I understand the thought process; it is important to realize that various parts of ones’ life will present different opportunities. This might be a useful way to re-frame this mentality.
A question that generated a variety of answers was, “Who has been the most important person in your life (besides your spouse or parents)?” People talked about friends, teachers, and co-workers. My father spoke in great length about his karate sensei, someone who instilled discipline and patience in him. Mentorship was certainly a common response, but so was unconditional love and friendship. Many spoke about a childhood friend who simply provided counsel and support. It was refreshing to see my parents and other older adults speak about people who mean the most to them, but it was also great to see people my age answer the same question. Everybody had the same look, the same sort brightness in their eyes when talking about an important person.
Overall, I had a great Thanksgiving. I love my family and my friends. I’m thankful for the opportunity to speak openly and freely with these people. I’m thankful for the things I have learned over the course of this quarter. It was a great moment, a chance to reflect and look back with loved ones.