Neil Tambe

Let’s go.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

It Is Time To Build A Boat

The first thing I thought about when sitting in Culebra, Puerto Rico on the most beautiful beach I've ever seen, and staring out at the ocean was that "Papa would've loved this."

After all, my father had the heart of an explorer and loved natural beauty. I quietly dreamed about surprising him with plans of a road trip tour of the American West - National Parks and all - someday soon, which we'll never get to do now. But regardless of that, he would've certainly been pleased with the breeze, sunshine, and the bluest blue water I've ever seen with my own eyes. That was my first thought.

Then the second thought that came to mind, was, "How the hell did I get lucky enough to get here?" 

You see, I'm the only child of two Indian immigrants who grew up pretty poor and really poor. When my parents arrived in this country, they were a bit older than me and they were still struggling, much more than I am now. And there I was, sitting on this remarkable beach, with some of my oldest friends for a weekend jaunt, soaking in the sort of scenery my father dreamed of - all before hitting my 29th birthday.

I got there because I've been lucky enough to stand on the shoulders of giants, benefitting from the accumulated hard work and integrity of probably a dozen generations before me. My ancestors, most notably my parents, brought me to the precipice of where I think damn near every person hopes their descendants will reach someday - on the cusp of making it. 

I realized this weekend that I was born at the inflection point of a hockey stick graph. For generations my family has been moving along the shaft of the hockey stick, with things getting slowly, linearly better from generation to generation. And after one last big push from my parents, I'm looking out at a chance to end my family's incremental growth. I'm at the inflection point right before the blade of the hockey stick when things get exponential. I'm right here, at the point of making it that my ancestors - most of all my father - have been working toward for generations.

But I don't even know what "making it" means, exactly. Does it mean becoming wealthy? Does it mean being able to see the world and having opportunities leisure? Does it mean being able to make an outsized impact on the world and move humanity forward in a tangible way? Does it mean doing something which brings honor to my family's name? Does it mean laying a foundation so my kids can have an outsized impact someday? Does it mean living without the shackles of want or oppression? Does it mean having a happy life surrounded by the love of family and friends? Does it mean becoming one with God?

I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way, especially among the children of immigrants. In many ways, we live an easy life. More importantly, we live in a time where I'd guess than many more people than ever before are being born at the inflection point of a hockey stick.

So I am confused about where to go from here. But only confused and not afraid, because my parents taught me well and are with me always (just as all my ancestors are). I just wish I could say, "thanks, Pops." I understand the magnitude of his sacrifice and his greatness now more than ever. He literally and figuratively brought me to the water's edge. 

And I suppose that if I'm at the water's edge, it is time for me to look up to the sky for guidance from my father and all my ancestors before me and build a boat.

Please do say hello: neil.tambe[at]gmail[dot]com