I recently discovered one of my first cousins was highlighted as part of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year edition (The Ebola Fighters).
This is a tremendous honor. But as proud and excited as I was to learn the news, this is also an embarrassing thing for me to confess, for a few reasons: I didn’t learn about it more than a week after the magazine dropped. What is more, I had been on television talking about Ebola, and it might have buttressed my argument to say, “Well, actually, my cousin is one of the leading experts on potential Ebola vaccines and treatments…”
It’s also sort of my job to ask people questions and know things. So being unaware that a blood relative had been honored for working on the hottest topic of the year — for three decades! — doesn’t bode well.
Sherlock, I am not.
(In fairness, my parents’ siblings number close to twenty, which means I have dozens of first cousins — of various ages — scattered across America. But this is more an explanation than an excuse.)
At least I’m not alone. Upon hearing this tale, one of my colleagues volunteered that, he, too, recently learned one of his relatives is involved in a potentially newsworthy endeavor. It never came up around the Christmas dinner table.
And then he said something that stuck with me: “This would never happen to Tucker.”
He was right. Our boss, Tucker Carlson, has an incurable and voracious curiosity. He’s sincerely interested in other people (no matter what they do), and would have informally interviewed every single relative over the years, peppering them with questions. Tucker would not have been caught unawares.
It would be easy to suggest this is a lesson for aspiring scribblers — that we should never forget the next big “get” might be hiding in plain sight.
But the larger lesson, I suspect, is that too many of us don’t really take the time to get to know even our own families. We’re so interested in our own lives that we don’t care enough to really listen and ask questions about those who should be the closest to us.
I’m going to remember this as I visit with family and friends this Holiday season, and into the New Year. I hope you will, too.