3,000 Miles and a Choice to Act

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“It would be really nice if you came to the track meet in March,” my sister said to me a while back.

Her daughter, my niece, would be competing at the track meet held at Point Loma in San Diego, on the west coast of the U.S.

I live in Virginia, on the opposite east coast of the U.S. The only thing standing between the track meet and me was three thousand miles, a choice, and some effort. To do, or not to do; that was the question.

If I decided in favor of doing, I would have to make plans and act. Buy a plane ticket, etc.

Recognizing that I sometimes also say, “It would be nice,” when what I really intend is, “Would you please? It would mean so much to me,” I asked my sister, “Do you want me to?”

The answer was, “Yes, I would like you to come.”

So I went.

I am so glad that I did. Not only did I get to see my niece pole vault—watching her was a thing of beauty—I got to spend time with my sister. We haven’t been together much in the last few years for various reasons. I got to know my niece and nephew better—to be in their world and tell them stories about their mother that they’d never heard. I’m only a year older than she, and our two brothers, also close together in age, were considerably younger than we.

We have daily or almost daily proximity with some people in our families. We are side-by-side in the trenches, having each other’s backs, figuring out how to work together, love, and support each other.

There are others in the larger family circle, maybe a sibling or a parent, perhaps a cousin, that we haven't spent much time with lately, but with whom we have a shared history and shared stories. And in my sister’s case and mine, though we don't look like, nor are our personalities similar, our voices sound the same.

Fires go out if they’re not replenished with fuel. We don’t have to decide to make them go out; it will happen naturally. Relationships are like that. We don’t necessarily decide to end them or put them on hold; it just happens. While we’re busily pursuing other things, the warm fire of our relationships can grow cold. But the embers can be brought to life again.

All that stands between me and a better relationship with people I care about is a conscious choice and deliberate action. In my family’s case, it started with reaching out once a month during COVID. We are geographically distant, but it isn’t the miles that are most difficult to cross. It’s the emotional distance that’s grown up while we weren’t paying attention to the dwindling flames. It’s not that my mom, my sister, my remaining brother, and I couldn't have been talking all along; it’s that we haven't been.

We began the rekindling with a choice to connect on Zoom once a month. That new point of connection led to my sister’s request and my opportunity to visit her and her family.

Because of where we are in our lives, fully individuated and not rivals which can cause division and distance when you’re younger, our rekindled relationships feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed.

Is there anyone like that in your life? A relative or childhood friend that you haven't spent much time with recently, but with a conscious choice and deliberate effort, you could rekindle that relationship. It could become a warm source of delight again.

What relationship embers need stoking to remain healthy in your life?

This week’s podcast guest is Amy Webb, a quantitative futurist who uses data to imagine the unimaginable. She doesn't predict the future but plans for every possible outcome so companies can be better prepared.

One area she's been particularly fascinated with is synthetic biology, merging computer science and genetics. In her new book, The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology, Amy explains that healthy skepticism of new things is good, so long as it's tempered with a good-faith discussion of the data.

As always, thank you for being here!

My best,
Whitney

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