A Nice Moment in the Cycle of Life

The wheel turns.

I believe that anyone with children will understand why I found these moments, occurring back to back today, so moving.

Venue: tech-centric conference, The Atlantic Meets the Pacific, in partnership with UCSD in La Jolla, with speakers, attendees, and overall crowd having a heavy representation of West Coast-based startups and researchers.

Moment 1: I introduce myself to a big-shot member of a medical-research panel. She says, "Fallows ...  where have I heard that name? Are you involved with ...?" and mentions the company run by one of our sons, of which her institute is a client.

A few minutes later, Moment 2: With someone else I'm discussing how the changes and distortions in the U.S. retail landscape --increasing dominance by Amazon, next-tier troubled dominance of the Big Box stores -- constitute a surprising barrier to small, innovative American manufacturing firms. The reasons this is so are interesting, but they're for another time. For now, my topic is the follow-up comment by the San Francisco tech exec I was talking with. He mentioned an interesting new express-delivery service that might help smaller merchants -- and which as it happens is run by our other son.

In our kids' very early age, when they were too young to notice or understand anything we might be saying about them, my wife and I sometimes wrote about them, their schools, their experiences in Japan, etc. Then as they became print-sentient we stopped, for many years. Until now, when I note the wonderful, touching, moment of being known for those we still think of as our little boys.  

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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