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.
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.
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.