Context creates meaning.
We are exceedingly fortunate. In an age of increasing economic mobility, impersonal communication, and social media, my family has stayed close both emotionally and in proximity. Even while working each day with two of our three children, I can say that we truly enjoy one another’s company (at least much of the time). That’s not to say life is perfect like a Hallmark movie. We have our spats, and our disagreements. Time outs from family are an emotional requirement, especially with a sometimes over-zealous, but (mostly) well-meaning father. Many say working with family is, by definition, fraught with conflict and should be avoided at all costs. For us, it works and works well. Context.
My oldest, who does not work in our office, lives with her husband and three children within shouting distance of her mom and me. Of course, this is a blessing and a curse. When growing up, my mother’s father (my grandfather) lived down the street from my childhood home and we have lived across the street from my parents’ house for 30+ years. Given this long history, I can attest that living this close to family is not for the thin skinned. In fact, I have been told that living near in-laws has been defined as torture by Geneva Convention. Not quite water boarding, but very similar to the thumb screw. The pain is not so bad at first, but gradually intensifies over time. However, living so close is not all bad. Built in baby-sitters for the occasional night out and dog walkers for vacations. From our perspective, grandchildren to cherish, adore and spoil. Context.
Our first grandchild, Nicholas, is a very inquisitive, bright and just plain fun 4 year-old. A special bond exists between Grandparent and Grandchild. I’ve been told its due to having a common enemy. Recently, Nick asked his parents if Grandpa could pick him up from pre-school. Of course, I was ecstatic. One late morning last week, I drove to Nick’s school and waited in the parking lot for the kids to be let out. Out first were the 3 year-old preschoolers, followed the 4 year-olds, including Nick, and finally the kindergarteners. Walking Nick back to the car, I asked how his day was, if he had fun in school, which activities the class participated in that day and similar rote questions that can elicit a conversation with a 4 year-old. Nick told me about his day and his friends and his teacher. As he attends a parochial school, the combined kindergarteners and preschoolers attended a short mass together. Nick told me about the “big” kids (the kindergarteners) and the little kids (3 year-old preschoolers) and about the kids in his class. I listened intently trying to comprehend meaning. I remembered that time has different meaning to a 4 year-old. A year is a lifetime. Context.
The 17th century English poet, John Keats wrote of negative capability. The idea of suspending judgement about something until learning more about it. Context. Or as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function”. Just as living and working in close proximity to family can be wonderful and tortuous or the way a 4 year old sees others of his own age, context creates meaning. Economic data and the markets have become both a joy and a worry. Economically, inflation is running high, workers are seemingly non-existent, goods are in short supply while GDP advances sharply and the unemployment rate drops. Markets, both stock and bond, are at record highs while continuing to advance. Context is key and investors seemingly need to hold two opposing views in mind at the same time and still retaining the ability to function.
As always, we thank you for your business and for your continued trust.
Jack P. Cannata