Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dear little shit: Color on the walls

Anybody out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let them do it. It'll be OK. Don't worry about the resale value on the house.
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Dear little shit;

I've been questioning my route in life lately and I called your grandma for advice. Here are a few anecdotes she gave me about how my brothers figured out which routes NOT to take in life.

Your uncle Ben wanted to be an astronaut when he was a kid. We lived in Florida and had the opportunity to watch shuttle launches during school. Classes would take breaks and assemble on the lawns to watch the launches. In January of 1986, your uncle's class stood outside and watched the Challenger launch... and then they watched it smoke... and then he watched it explode.

He came home and said, "Mom, I changed my mind. I don't want to be an astronaut".

Your uncle Charles is in the Army and has spent two tours in Iraq so far. He was planning on volunteering for another tour but in Afghanistan. He was torn between a few options about his career and then decided he could make a lot of money if he went back to serve.

Your grandma said, "What if something happens to you? Yes, you'll make a lot of money. But if something happens to you, what good is that money? You could lose your life! You could lose a leg, you could be terribly hurt." Uncle Charles considered those options but didn't seem convinced. She added, "And after another year... your cats won't even be yours anymore. They won't remember you!"

He stayed home.

These past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my life and career. I've never felt so confused. Why don't I have a passion? Why can't I just have a passion to follow and be happy?

Your daddy and I are the results of two very different pasts and influences. Thus, your daddy knew what he wanted to do in life, strove to achieve his goals, and is happily on his way. Your mommy is running in circles, questioning every other decision, and just figuring out in life how to be happy. I don't want you to go through this... nor when you're 28 anyways.

I want you to find your happiness in life. I want you to find your passion.

I'm not sure how I'll help you do this but I want you to know, success is not about a bank account. Success is not about a title. Success is living the life that fulfills your passions and aligns with your values. Success is coming into who you want to be. I want to help you figure out your passions in life. I want to guide you as best I can.

Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. In the last year of his life, he wrote a book about how to achieve your childhood dreams. He reminisces about his childhood and describes how his supportive parents encouraged his creativity. They saw the excitement in his face and rather than stifle his ideas, they encouraged them. They let him draw on the walls.

I plan on being right next to you, paintbrush or colored pencil in hand, putting ideas onto the walls (hopefully in our owned-outright home and definitely not with acrylic paint). I don't want you to go through life as a succession of decisions based on what you don't want to do; I would rather help you figure out your passions and then guide you along the way until you know what you do want to do. I want you to live life bursting at the seams because you are so excited about becoming who you want to become; I want you to live life with contagious smiles that inspires others to do the same; I want you to live life never knowing what it means to settle--don't just draw on paper, go for a good bright fuchsia on the wall.

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