I don’t take a lot of vacation days. Part of it is the nature of work… about the time I want time off, we are often short staffed. The bigger issue is me. I don’t enjoy vacations very much and it’s something that I have worked on more as I have gotten older.
This week Mark and I are up at the lake for a couple of days of male bonding before Wendy comes up this weekend with Oliver. The weather has been hot but I don’t have a huge to do list. Well I had a big to do list but I was reminded this summer but a friend of ours that he spent so much time finishing their family cabin, he didn’t enjoy it as much has he should have. So Mark and I have cooked meals over an open fire, taken Maggi swimming a lot, and hung out reading.
So far this week I have read Samantha Power’s captivating book, Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World about Sérgio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations diplomat who was described as being a cross between James Bond and Bobby Kennedy. His resume took him from Bangladesh to East Timor to eventually Iraq (where he was killed) in his attempts to bring about peace, alleviate human suffering, and bring hope and security to those that have none.
What struck me as I read it is he was a flawed man (terrible womanizer), who made big compromises and mistakes (befriending more than one person accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in his attempt to bring about peace), yet consistently learned from them and adapted to new challenges. I was contrasting him to what I had been taught about leadership which says that it requires perfect character and looks down on compromise and has people scorning or ignoring their enemies. There is also the aspect of how contextual what we have learned really is. What works well in one situation won’t work well in another situation.
Finally, this is shown by Sergio Vleira de Mello’s life and Samantha Power’s worldview and writing but the world’s problems require nuance, understanding of complex factors, and a wider view of context than is often given (MacNamara’s description of the misunderstanding of the nature of the Vietnam War comes to mind as an overly narrow understanding of a conflict).
Now back to the vacation. Mark was engrossed by The Hardy Boys and is looking forward to a late night session of playing his PSP. We tried to go swimming today but the algae was so gross that Maggi is a bright green shade right now, despite having given her a shower (it was as bad as it sounds).