Being your dad has been the single greatest privilege of my life; Yet, I cannot help but wonder at times if I’m enough. If you wouldn’t have been better equipped had you been raised by a soldier; better educated by a teacher; better advantaged by a politician. At the very least, if you would have benefited emotionally under the nurturing of a mother. Someone who could have carried some of the weight alongside my efforts to raise you to be confident, self-sufficient men. But if there’s one thing I feel I have done, it has been to never allow your circumstances to become excuses for poor behavior or a lack of effort, nor have I allowed them to become roadblocks in your unique journey.
For my own deficiencies as a father; as a man; as a mentor, I apologize. In many ways, a man is ill-equipped to raise children perfectly. Much the same as a woman, attempting to do the same. I know that I have, in many ways, benefitted in my upbringing from the influence of both sexes. Both lending to the development of the man I am today. Both perfect and both flawed. And even two parents will share much of the self-doubt I carry at times, and may produce similar men under two sets of well-intentioned, watchful eyes, in much the same way I strive to. But these influences and deficiencies can never be a reason for any success, or lack thereof, that you achieve in your own lives, for many a great man has changed the world for the better with far less advantage or forged themselves out of far greater adversity.
You will be too young at the time of this writing to grasp the state of affairs currently facing families. We are just beginning to crest the mountain top of a world-wide pandemic, while many of our Nation’s leaders use the distraction to deceptively strip American’s of their Civil Liberties. Under the banners of unity, tolerance, peace, and safety, have sought to undermine many of the principles by which this Country was founded. Families are facing decisions as to whether or not to vaccinate their children with one of three products, rushed to market and ramrodded through testing to get it to people who have listened to mainstream media spreading misinformation and fear-mongering in order to influence the outcome of an election. Trillions in misappropriated stimulus packages passed with little regard for the long-term effects of such an influx of unbacked currency. You will one day read of this past year in your history books, if our current cancel culture hasn’t censored and rewritten these events by that time.
Although many people who may stumble across this may disagree with the conclusions I’ve drawn or the predictions I have made, I can say with full confidence that I sincerely hope those in disagreement are proven in time to have been right and that time has, by contrast, proven me wrong on every point.
It is in times like these that anxiety and fear creep in. It is in times like these that the merits of a man are tested and tried. In time, the likelihood is that you will face similar or worse as you raise your own families. It is in those times that I want you to remember these words: Understand that which is in your control; Understand that which is not. Focus on what you control. Your choices; your actions; your attitudes; your will.
Nothing else is truly ever in your control and can be stripped from you without warning. Your health can be snatched away in a single breath. A loved one taken in tragedy. Your finances laid to ruin. In those moments, you must look within. As Rudyard Kipling writes in his famous poem, “IF”, “…Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop to build them up again with worn-out tools…”
This is not meant as a pessimistic outlook on an unwritten future, but a word of inspiration. Because great men are born of adversity. They triumph in the face of uncertainty. How can you know the limits of your strength unless it is tested to failure? You need to know that your Dad sees greatness in you, but greatness comes from great sacrifice. Often rising out of suffering. It is with such knowledge that I would not wish greatness upon you; but, rather, the strength and fortitude to achieve greatness through the expectence and overcoming of certain adversity.
Know that any thinking man at times finds himself plunged into depression. Only a fool sees the world through the rose-colored lenses of untethered optimism. Show me a man of optimism and I will show you one full of delusion, unfit to rule himself, much less lead a family. This is a man who will be caught unprepared in a storm, rattled to his very core. Depression is a tool of temporary sobriety from the highs of life and should serve as a mirror, reflecting your shortcomings. Abraham Lincoln has been said by many to have been the greatest President this Country has ever seen, yet he admitted to severe and lengthy bouts of crippling depression. He was also considered one of the great Stoics of his time. A man who knew that emotions were a reflection of thought, and should be viewed as nothing more real than a happy or dreary dream. Men must feel a full range of emotion, for this is human, but never succumb to their influence in choosing a course of action. If you learn to isolate and apply logic to every thought, your emotions, albeit tempered, will be of use, rather than leading you down the path of the unstable.
And finally, in times of adversity, train your mind to the present. Many have speculated that only about ten percent of what we spend ninety present of our time feeling anxious about, ever actually comes to past. Yesterday is no longer in your control; neither is tomorrow. What you have is today. More precisely, this very moment. That is what is in your control. When you hold your own child in your arms, the days will feel long. But, don’t allow a second of it to pass in fantasizing about an imagined future or trying to recapture moments owned by the past. Look into the eyes of your child. Feel his or her breath upon your cheek. Treasure that moment above all others, because the quality of your life is made up of moments exactly like that one: here today; gone tomorrow. The exact number, I can only pray will be many, but it is my hope that you will live each one with the understanding that they are all too often, few.