My younger brother lives with his wife and their three children in suburban Washington, DC. I called him yesterday to ask about coming up to visit. My wife and I have not seen them for over a year and we have an interest in visiting the Dulles Museum of Air and Space.
My brother said, “This is probably the busiest year of our lives but let me talk it over with (my wife) and I will call you back and let you know.”
As I hung up the phone, I got to thinking about how different my current lifestyle is from his.
He is two years younger than me. He met his wife at the University of Virginia where both of them were earning their MBAs. They both had terrific careers in corporate marketing and consulting. Their eldest child, a son, is now about 15 years old. Their second son is about 9 and their daughter is about 7. The second son is mildly autistic.
When the son began his educational journey, my brother and his wife were increasingly disappointed in the options provided to them by the public schools for special needs children. My brother's wife is one of the most energetic people I have ever met. He and she decided to start their own private school for special needs children. This school is now in its first year of operation and it is open six days per week. My brother has his own job teaching math at a private high school. So between his teaching job, raising their own three kids, and creating and running the school, they are constantly on the go.
Two years ago, my wife Jane and I sold the commercial printing company that we inherited from my parents 18 years ago. We still own the industrial shell building where that business was housed and my income comes from rents we collect. So I spend several hours each week managing that building. However, it is far from being a full-time job. Jane lost her job as an instructor at Virginia Tech a year ago and with the budget situation being what it is, she has not been able to find a similar position. Our only child is now a freshman at Virginia Tech and she takes little of our time. The bottom line is that I have more free time than I have had perhaps since elementary school.
At home, I read those long books I’ve had on my shelf for years (including, at the moment, Bud Robertson’s Stonewall Jackson, The Man, The Soldier, The Legend). I take long walks. I do house projects.
At work, I learn new software and explore the Internet while I wait for others to edit, review, and design my manuscripts. Book #3 is still in my head and research awaits warmer weather. I made a stained glass panel for our home and have a commission job to start soon for a friend. (If you'd like to see it, Friend me on Facebook and see the post.) I do volunteer work for the New River Land Trust and my Rotary Club.
I am not suggesting that my brother's life is better or worse than mine. I believe that all of us need a purpose in life and I appreciate the value of work and achievement. I heartily commend he and his wife for their dedication to special needs kids. However, I believe that it is equally important to have free time for contemplation, renewal, and intellectual fulfillment. He has chosen the lifestyle he now lives as I have chosen mine. Both of us are blessed to be in positions to have the freedom of flexibility and choice in our lives.
Regardless, I hope he’s got time for our visit!