When I was growing up, every evening at 5:50 p.m. my father walked up the street and in to our house. By 6 p.m. we all sat down together as a family for dinner. And then the learning began. My father was a theoretical physicist and amateur scholar in many other fields. Under his guidance, our dinner table conversation ranged across the momentous events of the world we lived in – civil rights, the Vietnam War, the environment and Earth Day. He never accepted platitudes or the conventional wisdom. He tested our thinking and made us defend our ideas.
When dinner was over, we sat at the dining room table and began our homework writing assignments always provided another excuse to push our analytics. There were mathematics flashcards for those who needed them and stories to be read to the members of the family too young to read for themselves. And when the chores were done and the younger children put to bed, my parents sat in the living room and read from the pile of library books they kept on the tables by the sofa.
From this background I learned the value of education, the importance of crisp thinking, the art of writing, and the importance of discipline. Most importantly, I observed role models of continuous learning and punctilious honesty. I was humbled by the knowledge that whatever I might accomplish would not be an individual achievement – a whole team had stood behind me to help me on my way – and that it was my responsibility to do something with these enormous gifts.
Over the years, I have tried to hold myself open to learning from a whole constellation of mentors and experiences. I learned the wisdom of “running out every base” when I played intramural sports in law school. When I began skiing for the first time 10 years ago, “leaning in to my skis” taught me the importance of committing to whatever you do. I learned that there is“more than one way to get to the other side of a mountain,” when a wise woman suggested I tone down some of my intensity. Along the way I have tried to incorporate the guidance that has been so generously given to expand the person my parents sent out into the world.
And understanding the great gifts I have been given, I aspire to“lift as I rise.”