A Letter To My Children- 2010

Success in the affairs of life often serves to hide one's abilities, whereas adversity frequently gives one an opportunity to discover them.

When I wrote this letter I though that I would try and update it once a year. If you search through the 2009 archives you want find the updated copy because I...forgot. When I stumbled upon it again I thought that I would take the time to update it, but I decided that it doesn't require much in the way of tweaking. But it still merits repetition so here it is.


Every so often I like to take a moment to write a letter to my children and share a few thoughts about life and the challenges that it presents. Each time I do this I agonize over trying to come up with something insightful and profound.

I don't know if I ever really succeed in doing that, but I do know that these letters will help them better understand their old man. I decided that I'd start today off by sharing some favorite quotes with them.

Some of my favorites can be found in Distilled Wisdom- Quotes that I Enjoy, in fact I like all of them, but for the purpose of this note I'll grab a few to highlight.

I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for their religion -
I have shudder'd at it.
I shudder no more.
I could be martyr'd for my religion
Love is my religion
And I could die for that.
I could die for you.
~ by John Keats ~

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ by Mark Twain ~

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
~ by Ray Bradbury ~

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

~ by Teddy Roosevelt ~
Children I haven't any clue how old you'll be when you read this. You might be teenagers or grandparents, it is truly impossible to say. If I am the father I want to be then you will have heard these sentiments many times and you will know that they are important to me.

Specifically I want you to live a life in which you are unafraid of challenges. That doesn't mean that I advocate being reckless or foolhardy. Use your common sense and take a moment to consider your actions. But don't be afraid to take a chance because sometimes that is what you have to do.

The sentiment that a ship is safe in the harbor but that is not what ships are for is exactly what I am getting at. Life is a risk and it is one worth taking.

I want you to experience love. I want you to know the kind of love that makes your heart pound and your head spin. I want you to know what it means to love so much that it hurts, figuratively speaking of course.

Your old man never wants to see you get hurt, but then again I do believe in taking a chance. Sometimes the hardest thing in life is trying to figure out what the future holds. I have seen many people get it right and many people get it wrong.

There is no doubt that I have done both. It does without saying that I have made some very big mistakes and caused myself grief that I could have avoided. But the opposite is also true. Sometimes walking off the cliff was the smartest thing I could have done. Sometimes I found that I had wings and I could fly.

I realize that this sounds like some sort of tired cliche. It is hokey and it is goofy, but it is true. I have the experiences to back it up. The thing that you will see is that there isn't any one way to live.

There are a lot of people who will try and convince you that they have discovered the secret to happiness. They'll tell you that you are a fool for not doing as they do. Trust me, it is not always true. As you go through life you'll find times where the smart thing to do is follow others and moments where you are better off being on your own. You'll have to figure out the when and where.

That is it for now. All I can say is that I love you very much and that just as you learn from me, I learn from you.


Anonymous said...

This is a great exercise, Jack, and one that I will think about doing for my own kids. I especially appreciate your warning about no single recipe for happiness.

Jack Steiner said...

I really enjoyed writing it. It felt a little surreal to write it as if I was already gone. But I like it because I think that it is valuable.
With a little luck they won't make the same mistakes we have.

Ben said...

Some excellent quotes there, I can especially relate to the Keats one. I'd have my arms and legs chopped off in an instant if it meant my son would be safe.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

this is lovely jack. i adore the quotes and really love the "tradition," if you will, of writing to your kids. i think these letters (revised or not) will be priceless to their hearts. thanks for the great idea!

Jack Steiner said...

Hi Ben,

It is one of my favorite quotes, that one by Keats.


Thank you. It is something that I am going to endeavor to continue.

Not Quite Abandoned

I didn't think it had been as many months away from here as it has clearly been. I was certain I had updated this place in December and ...