Last August I took the family back to the USA and Canada to see family and friends for the first time since our mom died in 2010. Our first stop was to see our dear friend Nancy Duarte in Silicon Valley. While visiting the cool new offices of Duarte, Inc., Nancy and I put on this little event and also recorded a short conversation. Below is a 12-minute segment from that chat. Nancy highlights the contents on her website, but I am including the video here as well. One of the things we touch upon is children. I'm much less productive professionally than I was before my daughter was born over three years ago, but I think I have a greater sense of purpose and a clearer idea about what's important and what is not. Since having a son almost two years ago things have become even more hectic, but also more rewarding. I think that having children has somehow changed my brain. This study suggests that perhaps my brain has indeed changed as a result of fatherhood: "A father sprouts supplemental neurons in his brain and experiences hormonal changes after the birth of a child." While my passion for work and keen interest in self-development and teaching and helping others has not declined in the least, I find that more and more things — everything, really — has taken a back seat to the simple idea of just being with my family here in Japan.
This moment will never happen again
I still get frustrated sometimes because I want to produce more professionally and to do much better work — to make a significant contribution — but I also do not want to be away from my children. One important thing my children have taught me is to appreciate each moment more, even the seemingly inconsequential ones. Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会) is a concept connected to the way of tea—it's an idea I have mentioned several times here over the years. Roughly translated the phrase means "one time, one meeting" or "one encounter; one opportunity" or "every encounter is a treasure." It's an idea that reminds us of something all too obvious but often not recognized. That is, that no moment ever happens again, every moment is unique, and we should recognize and be only in this moment. It's an expression that reminds me to slowdown and appreciate each "meeting," especially with my children.
I used this slide above in a talk almost two years ago, when my daughter was 23-months old. In the photo, I was having my breakfast while trying to get through some email at home while my daughter, who I already fed, bathed and dressed, was playing nearby. While I was trying to get some work in and enjoy a cup of coffee, my daughter suddenly climbs up into my lap and takes my toast. Do'h! I could look at it as a kind of workus interruptus, but I learned to just go with the flow and enjoy these moments. Of course, this explains why my email-answering skills have suffered. And yet, that's life.