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Memorial Day

June 12, 2009

My older brother and his family always come to visit on Memorial Day weekend.  The first born of four boys, the rest of us joke that he got all the math brains and left none in the gene pool for us.  The wunderkind of our brood, he is modest about his success in the business world, and stays fit doing triathlons and cycling races in his 40s. 

I worry about the visit a little bit, because I know that he is one of the few people on the planet who can talk me out of something I’ve decided to do.  In my twenties, I wanted to enroll in a forestry school, and I asked him for a loan.  He crunched the numbers per return on investment – tuition, expenses, opportunity cost vs. future earning potential.  He sat me down and advised against it, but offered me his support, nonetheless.  I took his advice.

He arrives and, while our kids running around outside, I tell him about the plan.  I’m careful to set up the background, so he doesn’t need to probe for reasons.  He tells me to go for it.  Ever the moderate, he suggests cropping off Hawaii and Alaska, retooling the plan into a series of modules that might be more manageable.  Carried away by the notion of a cross country trip, he suggests forgetting the skateboard and touring the national parks instead.  (That’s his fantasy creeping into the concept!)  I smile and indulge him.  I got his endorsement, and the moorings of my uncertainty are quickly unraveling.

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