A Father to his Children

Reasons for this letter
This letter is to tell you some things I wish my father had told me when I was young. My father and I didn't communicate and I always wondered why. I undestand some of the reasons now that I'm much older. He's gone from this life and I wish I could talk to him one more time, mainly to apologize to him. I didn't understand then that adults can get horribly involved in making ends meet, in taking care of their families, sometimes with just pushing forward when it'd be so easy to give up. Adults don't have that fountain of energy that you have, nor the boundless enthusiasm for the new. Our problem is we've done too much, sometimes seen too much and perhaps felt too little. As adults we find that there isn't time to do everything, say everything that we'd like to do or say. The time isn't right, the cat just ate the hamster, a million poor reasons to not talk.

There are a few things coming your way of which I'd like you to be aware. Recognizing a thing removes some of its power over you. It lessens the suprise, the fear. It helps you get your feet back under you faster. Forewarned is forearmed.

Growing into adulthood is a painful process
Everyone has a certain amount of pain involved in becoming an adult. Some seemingly slip into it easier than others, but that doesn't mean they do so completely unscathed. People are very much like snakes or lobsters. In order to grow they must cast off the old shell, and that involves pain. It'd be easier if it could be avoided, but it simply isn't the way of the world. The saying 'no pain, no gain' certainly applies. Every butterfly leaves a cracked, ruined shell behind. You will never realize the potential that lies within yourself unless you experience some discomfort.

Learn to realistically view yourself
Know that everyone has their own agenda in this world. Some will tell you what you want to hear for various reasons, and others will tell you exactly what you don't want to hear for their own motives. This is what I've learned: There will always be both prettier and uglier people, more intelligent and less intelligent people, richer and poorer people than yourself. You aren't at the bottom or the top of the scale. Be glad for that fact. Don't beat yourself up over things you can't change. It's said that 'he who dies with the most toys wins'. Maybe, but he's still dead, and someone else now has his toys. Being rich, intelligent, or attractive doesn't make you better than others. Being poor, less intelligent, and less attractive doesn't make you a bad person. Concentrate on becoming the best YOU that you can become. Be comfortable living inside of yourself.

The purpose of life isn't to have fun
Fun is a good thing, a necessary thing, but it isn't the only thing in life. The culture in our country spends so much effort on amusing ourselves when perhaps our focus should be on something more. Take time to think. Turn off the radio or tv or whatever electronic device is capturing your attention. Leave it off for hours to give you the opportunity to be alone with yourself. Know that for the vast majority of human experience we as a species have lived in relative silence. Just a bit over a century ago when you heard music it was a live performance. No tapes, CD's, MP3's or the like. Plays were with live actors, no videotape involved. The great thinkers of history existed mainly before the electronic cacaphony that surrounds us today. Go outside, smell the trees and the grass, feel the sun on your face. Listen to the sounds made by the wind and the birds. Out there is the real world and what we exist in is a chimera of our own device. We think the way things are now is the way things have always been and it just isn't so. Change comes, for either good or ill. Tommorow will be different from today.

I and your mother love you
That seems like such a silly thing to include here. It's not silly and here's the reason why. In most people's lives there are tough times. Tough times for one person may be fighting an addiction, for someone else fighting in a war. You may find yourself fighting for your identity, your peace, your sanity. Life sometimes is a fight. When you're in the battle and you feel all is lost, remember that there are at least two people on this earth who love you and always will. The simple three words 'I love you' were never said to me by my father. I don't want to repeat that mistake with you. I love you. In time you will be loved by others, perhaps by a spouse, and by your own children should you be so blessed. By friends, associates, others yet unknown. We loved you first.

When you arrive on the mountaintop
There will be times when your struggles seem to be over, that you've finally arrived. That is an illusion. Life is a cycle, a series of ups and downs very much like mountains. Remember that when you stand on the mountaintop that there is only one way to go from there. Remember when you are in the valley that it too is only for a season. Fortunately, most of life is lived neither in the valley or on the mountaintop. Relationships too are cyclical. If today you are getting along better than ever with those important to you, know that it will not always go so smoothly. You may enter a phase when it seems that the relationship is like the Titanic, your hull is broken and you're taking on water. That may be true, but unlike the Titanic things will change given time. Because things look bleak today doesn't mean it's all over. Don't throw in the towel too quickly.

Seek and ye shall find
The Bible offers that we are to seek and in the seeking we will find. That is quite true but the other half of the equation is to know what we are seeking. If you look for bad things that is what you'll find. Contrarily, if you seek good things, those too you will find. It's all in your perspective. Always try to seek the positive. If you seek knowledge, it's available. If you seek success, it is attainable. Choose wisely. You can seek anything you wish in this life, but remember you can't seek everything. The man or woman who seeks all things finds nothing.

Some other things I want you to know
I want you to know that I see you, our children, as individuals. You are each so different, such a wild mix of characteristics. We want you to be better than ourselves. It is frustrating to sometimes look in the mirror and see the unrealized potential within. We wish better for you. We want you to live and to live fully. We want you to avoid the pitfalls into which we've gotten entangled. We know that you will make mistakes. It's alright, you are not alone. Everyone makes mistakes on the way, makes wrong turns, goes down dead ends. Keep your eyes open and right your course before you waste too much time. Forgive yourself for your mistakes while holding yourself fully accountable should you do true evil.

Time is short
When you are young a year lasts forever. As you grow older time accelerates, passes by ever more and more quickly. We are all here for just a while. Use your time and talents wisely and well. Be a friend and have friends. Love and be loved. Learn to be content. Value peace and those who hold it dear. Avoid conflict if you are able. If you are forced to fight, be a terrible foe. When the fight is past, learn to forgive and to forget. When all is said and done, pray.