Meetings With Remarkable Men

Okay, so I stole that title from Gurdjieff. But I marginally can lay claim to it for three reasons: One, the title of the same name presently resides in my daughter’s bookshelf (one of the books I acquired and read many years ago) and two, because that general area where Gurdjieff wandered (Transcaucasia: Armenia, Georgia, etc.)  – is going to be where I take my next major trip, and last because I am still processing some of the interactions I had with my daughter and her colleagues this past week or so ago.

I learned late last week that my daughter turned down the famous and prestigious French institution, The École Normale Supérieure, in Paris for yet a better opportunity at another great (and better equipped) university in the US to do her 4 year post-doc research working under one of the greatest scientists (in her field) in the world.

Am I proud? Of course. She’ll have her doctorate in bio-chem/bio-physics by November of this year and will start her post-doc work the following month in December. That is ten straight freaking years of university my friend. Something I could never do. She surpassed me educationally five years ago and still has four more years before she formally finishes her education.

At her wedding party on June 30th of this year I had the opportunity to meet some of her professors and colleagues. And I also took the opportunity to get to better know her husband, Ryan who became fully tenured at the rather youthful age of thirty-five.

Two of her professors came up to me and introduced themselves and both told me what an extraordinary student and researcher she was. In fact one of them blathered on for an hour and it was all I could do to finally lose him in the crowd and move onto another slightly less tedious conversation. Yes, it was wonderful to hear my daughter’s praises sung but ten or fifteen minutes would have more than sufficed.

Note: He does cancer research so probably the greater part of the hour was more about how my daughter was assisting him in his research. Which is interesting because a) Sarah had never mentioned it to me and b) she volunteered inasmuch as he’s in an entirely different department and she took on that additional workload, gratis. (And yes it was tedious because he lost me five minutes into the conversation.)

He was one of the many very well educated and incredibly intelligent people at her party. In fact no where else in my life have I seen so many remarkable people gathered together in one place at the same time.

I respect learning – I hold learning to be at the very center of what constitutes the ideal man. In my humble opinion, if you’re not busy learning, you’re letting your life slip away.

I am not just speaking here about formal learning. Take Gurdjieff for example. He was obsessed with learning. In fact he devoted his entire life to it.

I still read up on technology some. I am especially fascinated at the rate of change in the field of electronics and information technology. But what really interests this soon to be retired old man are in the little things. The details hidden amidst the common day to day occurrences of our lives.

I read something the other morning that suggested it wasn’t what you owned (or how much you owned) that mattered but rather it were the things you appreciated that gave value and meaning to your life.

I admire that sentiment.

PS – An interesting idea was presented to me to a few days ago after I gave a rather superficial comment on some cigars I had smoked – this was one of those lost in the details ‘aha’ moments when we sometimes miss the bigger picture because of our prejudices.

The idea put before me was – and I quote – “The [new] cigars I sent present a challenge – they will hopefully make you move away from the Lusitania type of sweetspots to new taste and flavor sensations. I don’t expect you to like them all, since taste is subjective and everyone’s palate is different; also what we just ate can affect how cigars taste, but as I’ve said previously, I’ve enjoyed every single one of them before, and want you to experience them.”

After digesting this piece of wisdom I have looked deeper (or tasted deeper) of the last couple of cigars I smoked and I have to say I appreciated them more. Yeah, they weren’t of the most excellent Cuban Partagas Lusitania’s perfectness but I learned to appreciate them (the Oliva Series V Melanio Robustos) for what they were; also tremendously great cigars. Just different.



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