Slowing down to appreciate what's important
March 10, 2012
About two years ago, the rate of new blog posts to presentation zen declined a bit. It was not for a lack of ideas; I have folders full of ideas and samples that I would like to share. However, two years ago this April something extraordinary happened (well, extraordinary for my wife and me at least): our first child, a girl, was born in Osaka. And last week, our second child, a boy, was born in the same hospital (photo right). It's a cliché to say, but children change everything.
Immediately upon holding my girl for the first time 23 months ago, I felt as if I had somehow fundamentally changed. This study suggests that perhaps my brain was even changing: "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 with presentations, etc. did not decline in the least, I found that more and more things — everything, really — took a back seat to the simple concept of just being with my daughter (and now son as well). I still get frustrated sometimes because I do want to work more, but I also do not want to be away from family. One important thing my children have taught me is to appreciate each moment, even the seemingly inconsequential ones.
This slide above with a 16:9 aspect ratio features a photo from this week that tells a story. I was having my morning breakfast while trying to get through some email at home while my 23-month old 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 have learned to just go with the flow and enjoy these moments. Of course, this explains why my email-answering skills have suffered. And yet, c'est la vie.
This moment will never happen again
Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会) is a concept connected to the way of tea. Roughly translated the phrase means "one time, one meeting" or "one encounter; one opportunity" or "every encounter is a treasure." It is 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 in this moment as it will never happen again. Personally, it is an expression that reminds me to slowdown and appreciate each "meeting," especially with my children. So this is why the rate of posts to presentation zen have slowed (and the rate of baby pics to facebook have increased). I have some books in the works and I'll be sharing as much content as I can here more regularly on many topics related to presentations, creativity, education, and so on. All I really wanted to say was thank you for your support and for all your emails and comments over the years. It means a lot. I'll do my best to get more useful information published on this website in a speedier fashion.
As one of your longtime readers (here and in your books), I can say I definitely want to see more from you. BUT, you have your priorities straight. I predict you will look back and cherish moments with your children far more than your moments with your laptop, and most every reader is going to understand that.
Thanks for sharing that part of your life, along with your great insights on all the things you write and speak about. I regularly reference your material for my students and others (http://donnellking.com/), and I'll be happy to share this post with them as well.
Posted by: Donnellking | March 10, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Many congrats on the new addition to your family - slowing down for all the right reason sir :-)
Posted by: DK | March 10, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Congrats and wish you happy moments :)
Posted by: Amir Mehrani | March 10, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I, too, would like to congratulate you on the most recent addition to your family. A friend once said to me : "The first child brings a lot of happiness, but it's the second child who adds chemistry to a family . " You'll see what I mean in a few years, maybe sooner.
All the best.
Posted by: Ingo Peters | March 10, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Congratulations on your new addition to your family, Garr! I can relate with two young kids of my own, and becoming the stay at home dad with them both. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and remember what is important with Ichi-go ichi-e. I was just finding that tension between work and kids yesterday and I unfortunately chose work. Today, I'll choose the latter and practice more Ichi-go ichi-e!
You do great work and I read every inspirational blog you post. While your posts will slow with children, your perspective will grow and be strengthened by it. I'm looking forward to the next phase of Presentation Zen!
Posted by: Allen Gunderson | March 10, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Life changes, priorities change, Garr. And family is everything, my friend. Your future posts and conversations may not be as plentiful, but may be richer because of your new insights.
Posted by: Mike Sporer | March 10, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Felt the same way with my 7 month to be daughter and I thought I was slacking away.
Posted by: wm | March 10, 2012 at 11:44 PM
We are blessed you share your life with us. You are blessed that life continues to share through you and your family.
Posted by: Morris Sherwood | March 11, 2012 at 12:12 AM
This is the wisest and most genuine thing I have read in quite a while. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with us; you have a beautiful family.
Posted by: Donna | March 11, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Amazing! Your blog inspired me to start mine. (We exchanged a few emails back in 2007. ) And I am now in similar situation as well - 2 kids and pleasantly struggling between them and work!
Congratulation on having the 2 lovely kids and being able to be so conscious in your life choices!
Posted by: David Yau | March 11, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Thanks for sharing
Posted by: Doug | March 12, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Congrats on your second kid Garr! Kids first, then the blog : )
Posted by: Charles Martineau | March 12, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I deeply appreciate your work. Though I'm a math secondary school teacher, I've a deep love of zen design that you protrayed - so call "speak more with less". The beauty of your work is that you practice what you preached. I'll try to read your every post from now on. Thank you again for being so generous with your time in sharing and giving. May God bless you abundantly.
Another thing I admire about you is that you're no spin doctor; so many in this presentation profession have sold their souls to the companies or governments to present lies and damn lies to the public. You're still one of the Jedi masters, like Hans Rosling. May you all never bow to the dark side and succumb to the Sith lords.
Posted by: Wilson | March 12, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Hi friend, it happens. You should appreciate first to present. Accept and appreciate all events that is occurring in your life.
Posted by: Ranjan Jha | March 12, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Interesting ... Ever since I embarked in a similar journey (5yro boy and 2yro girl) I felt somewhat guilty for not putting as much energy in work and related stuff as before, but I was convinced my priorities where right.
You just put to words exactly what I feel, and I'm thankful for having read that.
Posted by: Claudio | March 12, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Children really do change everything. Life takes on a richer meaning and fresh insights and perspectives have a curious way of showing up when becoming present with a child. The gifts are enormous.
Thank you for your sharing your heartfelt words with us, Garr, as well as your calm presence (in this cluttered world).
Congratulations to you and your beautiful wife. Many blessings to your family.
Posted by: Lily | March 13, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Your post today means more than you have ever written. It is the reason that we live.
Posted by: Cornelia Hicks | March 13, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I have nothing but respect for this decision. I wish more people had their priorities in order, as it seems you do.
Posted by: Nick | March 13, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Posted by: Tom | March 13, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Having a child is one of the most beautiful, confusing, frustrating, confronting experiences I ever had. My son is an only child and will remain so, and is now 9 years old. He had to do his first book review recently, and in practicing we gently worked on presenting naked. You can never start too early! ;)
But, it is only after reading your "Naked Presenter" book, that I was confronted with the fact that I was being too "adult" as a father. The concept of "Play" really hit me, not only when it pertains to presenting, but also when it comes to being with your child. Our relationship as father and son is more fulfilling because of it. Thank you for being who you are and sharing it with the world.
Posted by: Guy van der Kolk | March 13, 2012 at 11:37 PM
In a parallel universe from yours, I also had my 23 month old girl interrupt my email while my wife fed our 2 week old just this morning!!
Please continue to take shameless advantage of all those workus interruptus moments.
Like you, I have found a mental, emotional, spiritual clarity as a result of those moments that no amount of work/learning/training can stimulate.
My first time ever reading your blog after beginning Presentation Zen book. Whatever pace you choose to continue posting will be just right if you continue writing with such clarity. Thanks.
Posted by: Andy | March 16, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Your work continues to inspire me every day. Almost always less is more. Having children has also taught me to do fewer things - but do them better.
Then moments like this - make all of it worthwhile:
My 2 year old daughter singing to our new son:
Posted by: Nate Grahek | March 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Thank you for all your great teaching and sharing,
You helped me to see the world with another eyes and then sharing it =)
Greetings from Uruguay,
Posted by: Teo | March 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Congrats on the latest addition to the family! Having children does sometimes change things but it doesn't always have to. I have friends that have recently had children but they still carry on with their small import business that takes them all over the world. The kids go everywhere they go. In fact, I can't think of a better way for an infant to begin life experiencing different cultures, races, traditions, foods, etc.
Posted by: Bali Mojo | April 04, 2012 at 01:27 PM