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Living the Radio Swiss Classic Lifestyle

My younger daughter likes to joke I am living the Radio Swiss Classic lifestyle, since I play it constantly at the house, and also have a the Radio Swiss Classic app on my iphone (in the Ap store), so I can play it in the car and while on vacation. Front and back announcing in your choice of French, German or Italian, no other interruptions: all music all the time. Some opera. We used to listen to the Radio Nederalands classic channel, but the Netherlands government massively cut the public broacasters' budget, so the service went away. Better listen to BBC radio on the Internet, since it is no doubt next.

It is peaceful, and beats total silence in a large house. I recommend it.


Dear Grandson

God willing, I will be 86 when my grandson graduates from high school. A friend recently asked if I had made a video to pass on to him, to advise him and to help him understand who I am and the lessons I have learned. I am a great public speaker and good on TV, but I am an even better writer, with some recent experience in self-published books. Thus it is that I recently gave his parents the first hardcover edition of Dear Grandson. The first half will probably be of more interest to him; it consists of a journal of all my interactions with him, and all the proud parent emails and messages I receive. The reason for annual editions is to make sure he gets the most recent and complete version of this section if I check out early.

My goal: "I hope this book gives you a sense of who I am, and who you were as you were becoming you."

I am more interested in the second half of the book, since it is about me and him both. I don't expect to change it much. First of all, there's my advice to him. Since I tried hard not to follow the single piece of advice my dad gave me when I left for college, I don't expect him to pay much attention, but at least (if I'm not here to read it with him), I can rest in peace knowing I made the effort. If I save him 10 minutes of pain from a broken heart, it will have been worth the effort.

By the way, one of the pieces of advice I am leaving is the same one dad gave me. Maybe he'll pay attention.I did, however, follow my mother's advice, which I am also passing on: never to marry anyone you hadn’t lived with and slept with. That advice I did follow; I lived with several women, including my wife, before I married her.

Very specifically I advise, "Don’t marry your first OR second lovers, and stay single until you are 27." Oh, the pain he will avoid if he takes that advice.

I preserved my theory of two tanks (see above) and advised him both to make sure his was full and that any woman he wants to marry has a full tank first.

There is a section of family stories, and some of my musing on things he may well have never heard of, including cursive handwriting, paper books and roman numerals. I tell him to follow his heart, to go to class (which I didn't, much) in college, and in relationshis to always listen, ask permission, take no for an answer... that sort of thing.

Thinking about the like/dislike lists in your relationship

I think we all carry inside of us two lists regarding our partners: aspects we Like and aspects we Dislike, with Dislike divided into think Could Change and know will Never Change.

When I was immature, I did not understand this, and could not differentiate between the two Dislike lists. I believe now I can.

Here is what I think I know about these lists:

* A relationship never gets going if Like doesn’t outnumber Dislike right from the start.

* A relationship is healthy if the Like list grows faster than the Dislike list.

* A relationship is unhealthy if either partner believes they can change the items on the list of things they dislike about their partners. (like the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference)

* Your relationship would fail if you expected you could force anything off your dislike list. The only person who can move items off that list is your partner. The most you can and should hope for is that some things on the Could Change list will move to the Like list.

DON’T TRY TO GUESS WHAT’S ON YOUR PARTNER’S DISLIKE LIST. In a healthy relationship, the dislikes are minor, or, if they’re major, your partner will tell you about them.

I underwent a recent experience of trying to guess what was on my wife’s dislike list and change those aspects of myself. I’m not a mind reader, and she finally had to tell me she didn’t want anything to change. So be careful. Don’t guess, ask.

Tell your partner is there is anything on your dislike list/could change list that is intolerable, or threatens the relationship. Expect the same in return. Come to peace with your dislike/know will never change list, if you can.

Listen responsively, and be aware of reality.

Paul's Theory of Two Tanks Inside

Each of us has two tanks inside, the main tank and the auxiliary tank. The main tank is what we mean when we say “Memories to last a lifetime.” If we fill it when we are young, we can settle down in peace.

My theory is that we all need enough people, experiences and places to fill the main tank. The size of our main tanks varies widely. Some people never fill theirs. Some, like me, have relatively small tanks. Which is why I am easy to satisfy.

The Auxiliary Tank, in this metaphor, is big enough to last for decades, and it is where we store the people, experiences and places of our lives. It is from peering into this tank that we can get the sense of a life well lived. At least that’s how I feel when I look in mine.

I know a lot about three male tanks: my dad’s, one of my professors, and mine.

My dad, married at 18, literally lived on the same block his entire life and had two children by the time he was 20. He told me he lived a life of regret alongside his half-century of happy marriage. This morning, I know his regret was that his main tank, however small, was not full.

My professor, married at 21, had a life of excitement and adventure. Having read the letters he sent me when I was considering a cross-country move, I feel sure his tank was empty. “Do it while you’re young,” he wrote me. “When I was 24 I had a wife and daughter.” His reaction to an empty tank, alas, was serial infidelity and restlessness. I believe he spent his life trying to fill his main tank.

My small tank was full quite early, by age 25. A happy childhood, a clean break with my family and the experience of living in Boston and Hartford, three exciting professional journalism jobs, multiple close and life-long friends, enough travel to satisfy me. I do, indeed, have a full tank of memories to last me a lifetime, and an auxiliary tank deep enough to swim in every day.

I thank God for my full tank; I hope yours is full too. If not, try to fill it without hurting those around you.