A recent New Yorker article summarized the three stages of the American immigrant experience:
I found this a concise way of capturing the internal tensions we all struggle with to some degree: on the one hand, we seek financial security, and making our parents proud is for many a personal or cultural imperative. Yet the idea of a life spent in the passionate pursuit of ideas, forging new relationships, expanding different skill sets and creating new art is also inherently appealing.
I’ve never wanted to be a doctor to the exclusion of all other identities. I envisioned a life that had room for a multi-faceted individual who was able to pursue different interests while raising a family. I love emergency medicine, but I always knew there would come a day where I’d want to pursue a second act. Leading an unconventional life is guaranteed to invite criticism from traditionalists.
What if the Renaissance thinkers dealt with similar pressures? Da Vinci was an artist and a scientist, and his pursuits in the one enhanced his accomplishments in the other. But did his mother see it that way? I can imagine Da Vinci’s mom preparing her son a nice pasta dish as he relates his latest enthusiasm to his parents:
Mom: My boychik the painter, come sit and tell me all about meeting the Pope!
Leo: Ma, I’m not painting right now. I’ve designed a flying machine!
Mom: That’s nice, dear. Maybe later we can stop by and visit the widow Scolari’s cottage. She’s about to put it on the market, and while it’s a fixer upper, it’s in a neighborhood with a very good school district. Your last commission is probably just enough to afford the down payment, and you can never think about these things too early!
Leo: The machine will have a rotor that spins, lifting the person inside it up into the air!
Dad: (Lifting an eyebrow skeptically) Leo, there will never be a market for flying machines. Take your head out of the clouds and go back to painting, son. Painting offers job security that I never in the marble quarry!
If this sounds eerily like your own family conversation, perhaps you can take solace in the company of the nonconformists who came before you.
Financial Literacy for The Newly Minted Physician