The Conversation

I remember a conversation I had with my grandfather, Dr. Joseph Fielding Catmull.  

I am lucky because I grew up in a home with two parents and had grandparents from both sides of the family living with us at various times during my youth.  I can’t over state how fortunate I am in that regard.

Dr. Catmull, or “Grandpa” as some people called him, was a man of great accomplishment which I will not detail here but suffice to say he set a high bar.  So at the time of the conversation I was in my early 20’s, a barely committed junior college student, and basically drifting through life.

I told him I was feeling a lot of pressure about the lack of direction in my life….and really not having any good ideas about what I wanted to do with it.

He could have taken the opportunity to give me a lecture about hard work, or getting more serious about school, etc.

But he didn’t.

Instead he chose to reminisce about what he was doing at my age…which was less than I would have guessed.  Again, I will not detail it here but it was not the kind of stuff that would have projected his ultimately successful life.  At least not the way he presented it to me.

It took the pressure off and put it all in perspective.  

A few short years later I had a wife and son, then a hitch in the Army, and followed that by completing a degree from the University of Texas.  I was on my way…

…and I have shared that conversation with more than a few drifters I have known over the years.

The power of perspective is often underestimated.

Still not quite sure what I’m going to do with my life.  But, heck, there’s plenty of time to figure that out.  No pressure.

Right Grandpa?

5 Replies to “The Conversation”

  1. Your paternal grandfather, my dad, was probably still in high school at age 20. When your mother and I married both sets of parents opposed the match. Dad offered a toast at the wedding party which defused things. He quoted my response to his questioning my decision. “Dad the only advice you offered about choosing a mate was this: ‘If you want to know what your future looks like, take a look at her mother.’ I’ve done that and like what I see.”

  2. I love this one. As I get older I’ve found myself much less fixy with younger people’s problems. In my 30s and 40s I was all “you have to do X & Y! Don’t make this crazy mistake!” Now I feel like: “ahh, you need to make that mistake now–yes, that’s an important mistake to make. Good luck! Have fun!” I’m not sure if this makes sense but it’s a distinct change.

  3. Uncle Joe was my Dad’s Uncle. He plays a big role in my memories of the extended Catmull family. Our reunions in Yellowstone were highlighted by the memory of Uncle Joe with his big booming voice, telling bear stories around the campfire. That picture of Uncle Joe looks so much like my Dad. There are strong genes in the Catmull family and Henry and Eliza did a great job with their posterity! So grateful for them. Joyce Catmull Cory (Hong Kong)

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