Monday, January 22, 2024

A Letter To My Little Girl

Not my daughter

When I heard that you would come into being, that I'd be a "girl" dad, I needed a moment. 

A few years ago, we had a son, your brother. 

His story is little like this: When your mom first came into my office to tell me she was pregnant, I thought maybe she wasn't feeling well or a little hungover, but NOPE, she was pregnant with your brother. 

At the time we were nervous, anxious, and excited, but overall thought we were prepared. 

Little did we know. 

But with you, this time was different. 

We had planned to grow the family a few years before, but we went back and forth about when would be the best time and then the Pandemic happened. 

At first, there was shock. 

We went from being consumed by whatever was trending on social media, or reality TV, or sporting news to all of a sudden being completely shut down as a society. 

Streets became empty. 

Freeways barren of cars and subways without the people in them. 

kindle publishing
An empty subway was a weird time

It was an odd experience of confusion, shock, and fear. 

Then, the confusion ultimately led to boredom. 

People had too much time on their hands. 

They sat around at home, in their apartment, many unable or unwilling to go outside. 

Others were more than happy to go outside. 

Some went to agitate for change in the social hierarchy, racial equality, or justice. 

Others went just to agitate. 

Peeps "agitating"

And the messaging from the government and authorities was off-kilter and sometimes contradictory. 

We were told one day to wipe down everything that came into our house, including groceries, mail, whatever. 

Then we were told, no big deal. 

Just wash your hands. 

Oh, and don't forget to wear a mask. 

But wait, don't let fear drive and control you we were told.  

It was, as they say, a shit-show. 

So, did we, as a global community, overreact? 

I'm not smart enough to know, but what I witnessed wasn't pretty. 

People lost their minds; they lost the compassion and empathy that makes a cohesive society function. 

Instead of embracing each other and valuing expert opinions, people used their idle time to troll each other only, to castigate the experts, and to diminish their knowledge. 

The narcissist and the deluded shouted down anyone that disagreed. It was the gaslighting of America and the world. 

In other words, it was weird. 

But like all things, our limited attention spans chased the next squirrel and the next social trend and we kind of forgot about what had pissed us off just a day or two earlier. 

Again, it was a weird time and odd experience for everyone at the time. 

After the fog of it all lifted, we decided to try again. And we were (obviously) successful. 

Along Came YOU

So when your mom came into the room and told me she was pregnant again, I was a little skeptical. 

Shows you how much I know. 

When she told me she was pregnant, I was flooded with a lot of doubt and fear that I didn't experience with your brother. 

I began to ask myself, "What did I know about raising a child, much less two, and the youngest being a girl?"

I still can't answer that question well; you've been around for months. 

An eternity to you and 100 days or so for me and your mom. 

Not my baby

We often find ourselves struggling, like when you're out in the waves, and another one crashes around you, all the while you're rushing to grab a quick breath before you're thrown around under another wave. 

Your focus is on the here and now, trying to come up for air, knowing that a quick gulp of air is the only luxury you're going to have, with little foresight or ability to keep an eye on the horizon and see what other waves are building. 

Because they're always building.  

But this will pass. 

As you grow and mature, and we can get sleep, you'll continue to amaze us in wholly surprising and yet predictable ways. 

You'll continue to grow, develop your personality, and define your role in the world around you. 

And there are a few things that I'd like to note at this point of your life as you develop.

Some Simple Points To Think About As You Live Your Life

For one, at this point of life, you look at the world observantly and slightly skeptical. 

Keep those skills in your life, they'll guide you well. 

Listen to your inner voice, trust your instincts, and don't let others define who you become or why. 

Another thing to always remember is that your smile radiates the room. 

It can change the perception of how people act and behave around you. 

It's a power you have now and one that you will have later in life if you stay true to yourself. 

This is just another way of saying don't let others dictate who you are, what you do, and why you do them.

Another thing is have the courage to choose your own path, even in the face of all the stuff that you will face. 

I can only imagine the pressures you'll face as a young girl and woman. 

You'll have to stand up to a lot of different forces that want to marginalize and minimize who you are simply by being born female. 

Dammit, don't let them do that to you or anyone else. 

Stand up for what's right, don't take the easy, popular choice or action. 

But those words of advice are also not your responsibility. 

Your only responsibility is to just be who you are, define what you want, and stand tall with that decision. 

That's being true to yourself and authentic in ways that most people wish they could. 

Look, it's impossible for me to predict what will be in our future. 

Like in every society throughout history, there's a fear and there's an optimism of what is next. 

We live in an interesting time; we have access to the most amount of information at a fingertip than at any other time in human history, but it also seems most people want to keep their heads down and remain ignorant. 

Or to discredit those with unique knowledge and experience because of an opinion or contradictory thought. 

It's a form of social insanity, but such are the times we live. 

It's like a new dark ages--where science and knowledge are replaced by opinion. But it is what it is. 

One thing I do know is that no matter what happens, I love you, your brother, and your mom more than I ever imagined I'd love anyone. 

Here's The Life Advice I Promised-You Only Have To Accept What You Want

There are a few things I'd like to impart to you, and they're simple. 

Be sweet, be sincere, and be strong. 

Be sweet to those who love you and those you love. 

You're named after two extremely special people to both your mom and dad. 

Your first name is after your uncle, who died from a stroke during the pandemic. 

Your middle name is after your grandmother, your mom's mom, who died when your mom was young -- (MorMor in Swedish). 

The point here is don't take for granted that your loved ones will be there when you expect them to. 

That may seem morbid or cynical, but always be sure to let those you love know it. 

Every time I leave the house or your mom leaves, we'll tell you all we love you, just in case. 

Nope-not our family haha

Be sincere in what you do. 

Be your authentic self, whoever that may be--you're still an infant and developing your personality, likes, and dislikes, so once you discover your "voice," shout it to the rooftops. 

Or don't if you end up shy. Both are ok. 

Just be you. 

Finally, be strong. 

The world throws a lot at young girls and women. 

Don't take their shit. 

Stand up for what's right, swim upstream if it's the right thing to do, and stand out from the crowd by believing in yourself and what is important to you. 

Do what's right. 

People and the world will try to dictate to you what is acceptable, what is expected, and what is allowed by you as a female, but don't let them. 

Of course, me telling you to be strong is easy to do. 

I was never a teenage girl, but I helped coach a few, so I've had some first-hand opportunities to witness the pressure society and peers put those ladies' under.

There's a lot to look forward to, a lot to discover. 

Go into life with your eyes and your heart open, your mind curious, and your soul listening. 

Invest in yourself. 

Don't let someone else detract or depreciate what you know to be your worth. 

You have but one life to live, so live it on your terms.

It's the little steps you take that make the journey, so focus on keeping your eyes on the horizon and your feet upon the ground. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Fear in hindsight

It was about a year ago (now a few years later). I wrote about the details of your mom telling me she was pregnant, how I didn’t believe her, and my rules that I believe will help you in life become a great man.

What I didn’t write about was the doubts, fears, and self-delusions that would occur after you were born.

You see, in life, everything we anticipate to happen doesn't. Everything we expect falls short.

The good news is, we can refocus and reimagine what we want. Every day.

The largest doubt, that everyone in my position can share, is in my ability as a parent and in that ability to help you. From getting you dressed and fed for the day, to prepare for tomorrow and beyond, the greatest doubt I can share with you at this point is in my, our, own abilities to help you.

Somehow our species has survived. Up to this point, of course. But survived we have.

Fear is usually a by-product of the unknown. Fear of how life will be in the future. Fear of not knowing what that knocking sound is in the middle of a rainy, wintery night. It could be fear based on our limitations, like in basketball being the size of a 6-foot point guard playing against 7-foot centers. The key is finding what you do better than those others, and negating what they do well against you.

We will spend our lives, up until the day we die,  telling little lies to ourselves. Things WILL get better, I will become a professional athlete, singer, actor, businessman, etc. Truth is, we are what we do every day. Wake up, drink some coffee, go to work, daydream of a better situation, come home, eat, sleep, entertain, repeat. Reality is that we wake up, go to work, come home. In other words, we exist. Everything else is superfluous fluff. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Letter To My Young Son

A Letter To My Young Son On Rules To Live By

Not my son pictured

The morning your mom came into my office and told me she was pregnant, I laughed. We had some drinks the night before, and I thought she had a slight hangover.  She then produced a home pregnancy stick that was positive.
My response was, “those things can often be wrong.”
To which, she replied, “it’s the second one I’ve taken this morning.”
See, we had planned to start a family, and just weeks after agreeing to start, you were on your way. In life it’s not up to us to decide the timing of things, life operates with its own clock.
At first, we were both unsure what to say to each other, or what to do next. We stood in the middle of the room and hugged. Talking about our feelings, we were anxious, nervous, scared, elated, sad, and happy. 

I say we were sad, and maybe I’m only speaking for myself, but the sadness was a part of the fear. Fear that I’d fail you like so many other parents, including my own. Fear that I couldn’t be the man you needed to raise you, provide for you and keep you safe. 

And some of that fear was pure selfishness. I knew that my life, our lives, were going to change, and change is a psychologically driven fear with roots in our DNA. 

It’s a funny thing about fear. 

Once we get to that point in our lives that we feared, we learn that it’s not so bad after all. Unless you’re being chased toward a pride of lions by hungry Hyenas in the African savannah. Then the fear is justified. You’re just fucked.
There were many nights I laid awake wondering what the fuck am I going to do? 

How can I do the things a dad needs to do?

Shit, I haven’t even been to Ireland or Paris yet. 

I think this over-analysing thought process is normal for expecting parents, but how do I know? 

You are my first child, and the only experience I had previous to this was watching other people with their kids, and hell, they seemed like pros compared to me. 

I couldn’t get into their mind to see their hopes, dreams, and fears. 

I was left to scramble my thoughts, like eggs that were beaten to make an omelet, only to decide that sourdough toast was a better option.
But this letter isn’t about fear, or remorse, or anything negative at all.
To the contrary, this is a letter from me, to you, about all that I hope you learn about life and your place in this world.

This is the world

This world is an amazing place filled, at times, with less amazing people. Not all people, mind you. 

There are people that don’t think, feel, act, or operate with the same appreciation for the delicacy of life that I do.
And that’s ok.
Just like having a little whiskey is ok. Or a beer, or glass of wine. 

But like these drinks, a little too much of them will give you a hangover. So understand that a little poison now and again stiffens the soul, just don’t over do it.
What I hope to show you is a world that was as beautiful as the one I experienced as a kid. 

One where the sun shines, the rain rains, the moon moons, and the stars shine. 

A world where the breeze messes up your hair before taking class pictures and nobody cares. 

Where a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was the currency of the lunchroom and a candy bar was traded on the secret black market of the playground. 

Where playing and running and jumping are just what you do, like fish swimming, and not something you have to plan on your schedule to do, like going to the gym.

But make sure you shower. Nobody likes a smelly person. 

And, as my grandma used to tell me every day: “Make sure you have clean underwear on. In case the firemen have to rescue you. It’s only fair to them.” Oh, and make your bed first thing every morning.
I want you to laugh until it hurts, and I want you to sing your heart out. 

I want you to cry, and get mad. Like really pissed off, mad.

It’s ok to be happy, sad, joyful, and mad. 

These are all traits that make us human, and they’re perfectly wonderful to experience. 

But be careful with them. 

Emotions are personal, they can be as light and delicate as a butterfly’s wings, or as sharp as a razor, and you should tread lightly over other peoples.
To wit: tell the truth, play by the rules, and don't cheat. 

Help others who are less fortunate, share what you have, and don't boast. 

Don't blame others for your own errors, and don't compare what you have with what someone else has. 

Be quick to forgive and be a peacemaker, and to know that every human being has value regardless of their bank accounts, the color of their skin, their sex, or where they live. 

As your mom says, “Somebody loved them enough for them to get to where they’re at, and they love someone else as well.” So try to remember that.

There’s a lifetime of wisdom, built from experience that I wish I could telepathically share with you. 

But that’d be weird for both of us, I believe. I’d be all up in your head sharing memories and emotions, and you’d be exposed to some degenerate thoughts and things unsuitable for someone as young as you. They may even get your dad in trouble with the law, so it’s probably better that we lack telepathy skills. 

Besides, the best knowledge comes from experience. We learn more by doing, and failing, then by watching.

Having said that, In light of these limitations, I’d like to share my list of 10 rules (actually 13) to live by.

10 Things Actually 13 Rules I Hope You Live Your Life By

  • Be kind. Learn to be compassionate to everyone you meet. Some are doing better than you. Others are having a harder time. But they all feel, they all hurt, love, and laugh.

  • Be respectful. Treat people with dignity and respect. You will meet people that seem like they don’t deserve it, but as I said earlier, everyone is dealing with stresses, sense of loss, and pain that you have no idea of and since they bleed the same as you, they deserve to be treated as such.

  • Listen. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Unfortunately, most people only want to hear themselves speak and don’t really care to listen. If you take a moment, and just listen to others, you’ll learn a hell of a lot.

  • Do what’s right. It’s easy to make the popular decision, to join in, but is that right?  Stand up for the person being picked on, defend what makes this life better. Most people will do what’s the popular thing to do, and they won’t understand how it negatively affects someone else. Take a stand when necessary, especially for those that can’t take a stand on their own. Simply do what’s right, especially if nobody is looking or watching you do it. It’s called character and integrity, and it’s a damn limited trait today.You’ll sleep better at night.

  • Get some sleep. Speaking of sleep, get yours. This idea that you have to work yourself to the bone is bullshit. Right now in our society, there’s a glorification of always being busy, which is shit. Yes, you need to work hard, but don’t sacrifice your health by denying sleep. It helps relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. It also helps maintain health and wellbeing.

  • Daydream. Spend some time lost in thought, watching eye floaters cruise around on your eyeballs. Thoughts will flutter into your head, great ideas will ride a bolt of lightning, and clarity, most of all, will appear from behind the fog. Most of all, daydreaming is a skill that helps you connect with the universe and everything around you and it with you.

  • Do your best. In everything you do, offer your best effort. Be satisfied with your work, not the outcomes of it.

  • Workout. Workout both your body and brain. This idea is more about your general health, but do something to exercise your body and mind every day. Play guitar, piano, tuba, whatever to make a bunch of noise. Run, swim, and lift weights to increase your heart rate and breathing. And read. Not because I got my degrees in English Literature, but because reading will spark your creativity and cognitive thinking skills. These activities will help make you fit, and aids in sleep which makes you dream, and dreaming is one of the most powerful human experiences that is in extremely short supply today.

  • Go the extra mile. If someone needs a hand, lend them both. If they need a dollar, give them $5.Generosity is a finite resource, however. Be willing to go the extra mile but don’t let people take advantage of your generosity.

  • Expect nothing, give everything. Be willing to dig in the dirt, and don’t expect people to pamper you. You’re entitled to nothing, so be prepared to do the work necessary to get what you need before you work to get what you want. Clean up after yourself first-and-foremost to make it less difficult for others later. It’s like eating vegetables. Once you eat your vegetables, you can have ice cream.Just don’t expect the world to serve up bottles after bottles of formula or whatever it is you want to drink. Sorry, this was written while you are an infant and you really seem to like formula right now.

  • Love Mom. Treat your mother with love and respect. Everyday. She’s the only one you have, and trust me, losing a relationship with your mom is something that will weigh on you like a backpack full of stones.

  • Fail, and fail again. Be willing to fail at something, every day. Make discomfort your comfort level. See, most people, your parents included, are scared to do something because they might fail. Shit, there’s a ton of things I want to do, and because I rationalize the potential loss or failure, I never get started on them. This tendency is typical of people. It’s safer not to try than possibly succeed. But you my young son, you only have one life to live, so live it. Make it the one you want, by making mistakes, by failing, you’ll learn about ways to do things right. And you’ll get shit done.

  • Leave things better than you found them. Make people's lives better by how you treat them and interact with them. Try to make this a better world and not just yourself. There’re enough selfish clowns out there as it is, so why be part of that herd?
That’s about it.

If you can live your life by at least a few of these rules, you’ll live a happy, full life, one that makes other people's lives better as well. You won’t be able to master all of these traits, but if you can get a couple down just right, you’ve done a heckuva job.

Oh, and be happy.

Smile every day just like you do now.

Still, not my son

Even now, when you’re toothless and goofy, smiling makes you have a better day and those around you have a better one also. It’s amazing how a smile can transform your mood and that of the people around you. 

If you’re having difficulties smiling, find someone who makes you smile. 

Like you do for me, or your mom does for me when I’m in my “serious mood.”

In final, it all comes down to the one simple truth: Treat people the way you want them to treat you.

Good luck and I love you.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Story Hour

It started with the parades and the marching bands before becoming a familiar and popular TV show. One that generated millions of viewers and followers. It was one that people watched during dinner; they streamed it at work, and spoke about it online.

It was as real as reality could be.

So why, then, was Gerry unhappy?

He was the number one celebrity in a celebrity driven society. He was ubiquitous, like air, and felt like he could float like lithium on water. Or more accurately, he felt that he could jump into a pool of water and explode on contact like caesium, that every thing he did had an oversized reaction by his fans.

 He had everything, and everybody, watching his every move, mimicking every tic and mannerism, they even recited his catch phrase "Domo Sorry-Gato" at every chance in solidarity to his inane characterisms.

So why, then, was Gerry so unhappy?

There were whole cottage industries dedicated to his celebrity. TMZ followed him around like mosquitos in Florida and even Facebook streamed his every public act for everyone to see.

He had all the money he could ever need; in fact, he had more money than anyone in history would ever need. He bought cars, planes, islands. With his wealth he "diversified" into other investments in his portfolio, being an angel investor in tech to investing heavily in startups specializing in advanced tech. He even bought, through legal and paralegal means his own countries. He didn't buy countries outright, he just spent enough money on elections that he was able to influence the outcomes to meet his particular tastes and desires.

To wit, Gerry, born Gerald P Wolt had everything, was everything. But he was unhappy.

At 5 years old Gerry began performing for friends and family, dancing The Charleston, quickly followed by a quick tip of the hat, and wiggle of an imaginary cigar. Quickly he learned that he could make those people around him happy, but more importantly, he learned that his dancing would get him anything he wanted. It was a quick lesson and one he understood even at such a young age.

As he got older, Gerry realized that if he smiled a certain way, he'd get the obvious cheers and accolades, but if he tweaked that smile just ever-so-slightly, he could elicit a kind of euphoria from his fans. It was as if the parts of their brain that held individuality, conscious thought, reason, and rationale all got lobotomized and all that was left was the limbic lobe, the part of the brain that controlled happiness. In other words, Gerry learned at a very delicate age that by making others laugh, he could control them. Like the fungi Ophiocordyceps that controls the carcass of the invaded ant, Gerry could invade his audience through his performance and make them servile to his wants and whims.

So why, then, was Gerry so unhappy?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Do What's Right

Just Do What's Right

"Always Do Right.

This Will Gratify Some People And Astonish The Rest"

Self Improvement begins with the self.
It's the first time in about a year you've had a chance to eat out at a restaurant.

Money's tight, and it's difficult to get everyone together at the same time.

While you're sitting at dinner with your friends, you realize that it's 5 days away from payday. Perhaps you're having a beer, or a glass of wine, while your table is having appetizers. You see in your head the price of your dinner bill skyrocket, and you're not sure it was a good idea to eat here.

A young couple at the table next to you is in the process of paying their bill before they leave. As they get up, they walk away from their table as to leave the restaurant.

A moment or two passes, and you can see that under the table is some money sitting on the floor.

You get up and see it's two $100 bills.

What do you do?

Do you chase after the couple to return the money? Which way did they go?

Do you flag down the restaurant staff? Are you sure they would even know who's money it is?

When things are difficult, the path we choose is the result of weighing the options and deciding the best way forward.

It can be a choice between taking the longer, more arduous path versus doing what's simple, easy and fun.

It can be a choice of doing what's right and what's easy.

Too often it seems that what we want is in direct competition with what we need. That shouldn't be the case and it shouldn't be the result of a bifurcated trial.

Every day we're presented with two options. The path we choose leads to another set of binary choices that lead so on ad infinitum.

It becomes an infinite loop that perpetuates itself forever.

Just do what's right.