I'm proud of my father and wouldn't be the same person raised by someone else. Yet I have one concern. A penchant for dissatisfaction is a great driver when you're young. At 80, it's self-destructive.
My father remains professionally active; he still writes and travels the world. Yet that proclivity for pushing himself further, always prowling for the next achievement now that the one he's just attained means nothing, is turning on him. No accomplishment is ever enough, no accolade sufficient. He seems haunted by an unfocused disappointment.
Considering that he's been president of a prestigious institution and written a stack of books, it's a mystery what exactly he castigates himself for not having done. I want him to feel replete, to take pride in his industrious, searching, reflective life and to relish the leisure of his twilight. My concern is self-interested. For if a capacity for satiety is not in his nature, it's probably not in mine.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
At the Observer, Lionel Shriver writes about her father: