Time Enough for My Friends

In a recent couple of blog posts, Diana Hsieh at Philosophy in Action and I have articulated different takes on a "Central Purpose in Life".

But it got me to thinking about how my values interact on a daily basis.  Let me give you a quick run down of my day:

This morning I woke up at 7 AM.  I let the dog out, made coffee, ate breakfast, fed the kids, took a shower, and then jumped on the computer to start working.  A little after 8 AM, my wife ran to the gym, leaving me in charge of the kids (since it's summer and all).  I kissed her goodbye and went back to my computer until my kids started yelling for me.  With my full attention, I helped my kids with their life threatening dilemma (something about asking the neighbor kids to play which I empathized with before telling them to wait for their mom).  Then, I went back to my work.  When Brenda got back from the gym, I headed to the office.  Around 3 PM, I got a personal message from a good friend about a medical problem he was having.  I dropped everything I was working on and responded to his message.  Relieved to find out that he was okay, I finished my work, went to the gym myself, then headed home.  I ate dinner with the family, played a game of Crazy 8s with my kids, chugged some trains around, then sent the kids to bed.  My youngest, who skipped his nap today, needed extra help calming himself sufficiently to fall asleep.  By 9, I was free, so I jumped back on the computer to do some more work.  

So what was the point of this narrative?  Throughout my day, my central purpose guided my actions while working.  I took time for other important values in my life, my wife, my kids, my friends.  Although I spent the majority of my time working on my central purpose, there was time enough for my friends, my family, my hobbies, and my health.  

The way I see it, a central productive purpose does not preclude other values.  Rather, a central productive purpose makes the other values possible.  It is the work you do, the specific value you are creating and focusing your energies on, that makes all the other values possible to both afford and enjoy.  Certainly, my family is a huge value to me.  But I agree with Rand that it is not my top value. 

But that being said, Diana has a point about some major values that don't integrate.  My family and my career do not.  When I'm doing one, I'm not doing the other.  My wife and my kids cannot help me with my research or my teaching.  And my research and teaching do not help me enjoy my family.  If I decide to return to my hobby of woodworking, that again will have little or no relationship to my CPL.  But as I have discussed before, my hierarchy of values puts my career first, specifically my passion to help others to make better decisions using information technologies.

I also consider that sometimes life requires several jobs just to make ends meet.  Often times these jobs have no relationship to one another other than you can make money doing them.  You may even have a passion you desperately want to pursue, but cannot make enough money doing so.  There is no shame in not having a CPL or being unable to pursue one should you have it.  But if you can integrate your life around a more centralized theme, the potential for success greatly expands.

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