Last night I heard Bruce Feiler speak at the annual JUF Non-Profit dinner about his latest book, The Council of Dads. The book has a beautiful premise; when Feiler was unsure about the future of his health, he called upon friends to serve as part of a “council” to mentor his young daughters in case of his death.
Feiler’s speech was very moving, so much so that I bought his book and spoke to him about it. And the first thing I thought about as I was leaving was that I really needed to call the several good friends whom I have been neglecting lately.
And then I realized I had no idea where my phone was.
It was gone.
Let me tell you something about myself. I am one of the most responsible adults that you will meet—who loses things all of the time. Whether they are stolen or thrown away, I somehow routinely put my items in places where they shouldn’t be.
I have been this way since I was a child. Whatever the first thing I was allowed to hold on to, probably a pacifier, I likely lost it. Instead of being a latchkey kid, my parents put a code device on the garage because they knew our house keys would end up in locations all over South Bend.
I find this fact about myself very depressing. This is not how I would like to be known among my family, loved ones, and coworkers.
A few weeks ago, on Valentine’s Day, I was with my boyfriend and he insisted I upgrade my phone. I was hesitant. He was relentless. You deserve a new phone. Your phone doesn’t surf the internet fast enough. There are all of these cool applications you can take advantage of. We can Skype with each other. I didn’t want the phone. Why? 1. Learning a whole new phone system stresses me out. 2. I knew I would lose it.
Sure enough, three weeks later, and it’s gone.
It’s time like these I’m glad I don’t have kids. How can I care for a child when I can’t care for a phone?
This kind of thinking can go on in my head for a very long time—too long especially if you take Feiler’s message to heart that we need to slow down and stop taking the good in our lives for granted.
So instead of thinking about who would be on my unborn children’s Council of Moms upon my untimely death for a disease that I don’t have, I started to think about all of the wonderful friends of my parents who have been in my life and how much unconditional love they gave me throughout my childhood.
When you are part of a loving community, like I was as a child, you don’t need a Council of anyone. The Jewish community is a council. Unfortunately, nowadays it is rare for people to commit to communities that matter, unless the only requirement is to click the “yes” button on Facebook.
The best gift that you can give to your kids is to provide them with a values-based community, not just as insurance in the case of your death, but as role models for them to look to while you are alive.
And to tell you not to be so hard on yourself when you lose your phone, again.