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Michael, I was reading this excerpt to my wife last night and, I'll admit, got a little choked up when he said he's had his moments of greed. There's something so honest about the way he says it in light of what he was saying earlier; it made me realize that some of the most purest people struggle within themselves. His dignity is in acknowledging his humanity, and the tension of those realities.

Now that I have two young children, I think you're exactly right. I feel like I'm regaining some of the virtues of my childhood self because I have two parrots/two mimics that depend on me being forthright and good. They don't expect me to be perfect -- which is a big relief -- but they expect me to be human and let them know when I crossed a line or didn't act the right way. And they reward me with a sincerity when I'm generous. The older I get, the more I appreciate those unequivocal gestures of kindness.