You turn ten today. I vividly recall last year when you turned nine, I suffered several days with anxiety over the fact that you were merely a year from hitting double digits. I have a visceral aversion to calendars and dates – systems that serve to remind me of time’s incessant march – and I can think of nothing that highlights these systems more than the birth date of my eldest child.
Ten years. A decade. Roughly an eighth of my expected lifespan you’ve been with me. This seems impossible. Though I expected to fumble my way through your first couple years – new parents are often warned of this; devoid is the world of an adequate instruction manual for parenting – I guess I’d hoped to have a better grasp on things by the time you hit double digits. Sadly, the years have not been as generous with wisdom as I’d hoped they would be.
There are a couple nuggets I have managed to pick up, which I’ll convey to you now. These are ideas I think may take some years to digest, so I suppose it’s best that, should you ever read this, you’ll likely be much older:
– More often than not, the confidence you see in people is an act. Somehow, I grew up convinced that most people had things figured out – a conviction laced with the fear that I alone was clueless. Truth: People are not as smart as you think they are, and you are not as clueless as you may fear.
– You have permission to be you. That sounds funny, I know – funny because it appears obvious and unnecessary, but at the age of nearly forty, I’m only beginning to see it. You live in a world of people who are inclined to tell you how and what you are supposed to be, and many of these people are virulent in their efforts to sway others to conformity. Take it from your father. Consider these words your permission slip. Be different. Be that which your heart knows you to be.
– Time is not to be fretted over. I mentioned the anxiety I struggled with around your last birthday. I don’t struggle so much now, because I’m coming to understand that time is little more than a construct. It is a vehicle by which we as humans experience this miraculous thing called Life. It’s a shame we tend to obsess over the vehicle – trying at first to speed it up, then slow it down, complaining incessantly that it doesn’t function the way we’d like it to – while all along this beautiful Life surrounds us. Experience Life.
– Your greatest gift to this world is your kindness. I hope you never lose that. You are exceedingly talented and wiser than most people twice your age, but these are secondary to the Love and the Light you carry inside. Talent and wisdom do not change the world. Love does. This may seem like a huge responsibility, but don’t worry; you are not the source. The Love belongs to Someone Larger. You merely carry it with you.
There it is, Son. Forty years of wisdom in a couple hundred words. It’s just possible I’ll have a word or two additional by the time you turn eleven.
Deep love to you, my boy,