When Your World Is Collapsing- A Letter To My Children

I drank a huge cup of coffee and am not going to find a way to sleep anytime soon so I thought that I’d write a letter to my children. I don’t intend for them to read this for many years. In fact I’ll probably revise it a number of times, but for now this is the edited for the blog version.

Dear children,

It is the middle of February 2009 and am almost 40 years old. Until this year I hadn’t really found any of my birthdays to be difficult, at least not from the perspective of feeling old. I can list a number that I found to be exciting because my age meant that I had gained new privileges or responsibilities that I wanted.

This is different. It is different because I am realizing that my expectation for what my life would be like at 40 is different from what it is now. I can’t tell you exactly what it was that I expected it to be.

When I was 13 I was certain that I was going to be a professional baseball player. I was good, among the best in little league. But for a variety of reasons it didn’t pan out. That is ok. I have no regrets there.

I am trying to remember if I had any specific dreams of what my life was going to be like. For a long time I expected that I was going to make aliyah and live in Israel, or at least spend significant time there. That hasn’t happened yet and I can’t say if it will or won’t.

My career has had its ups and downs. It is not like your grandfather’s career. I grew up with a father who had one job for 38 years. But that was what happened in his generation. Things changed and it became the exception rather than the rule for someone to have just one job. Now it is not unusual for people to have several.

Your great grandparents were born during World War I. Your grandparents were born during World War II and your parents during Vietnam. The Cold War took up the majority of our time in school. The first Gulf War hit during college.

For a while things seemed relatively calm. The Soviet Union collapsed and the stories I heard as a child about whether the US and Russia would nuke each other became more of a fairy tale.

And then 9-11 hit and life changed again.

As I sit here writing we’re a few weeks into President Obama’s first term, who knows if he’ll have a second. We’re still fighting two wars, one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. Our economy is in terrible shape and from a certain grim perspective life looks pretty damn bad.

But perspective is what is called for. One day when you are old enough I’ll fill you in on all of the details that I am leaving out of this post. I’ll tell you some things that will help you understand the who, what and whys.

Anyway, the reason that I gave the history lesson is to show that history does repeat itself, the good and the bad. And sometimes the best thing that you can do is take life one day at a time. Break up the crap into smaller bite size pieces and just do the best that you can, because that is all you can do.

And now the circle is complete. I have officially channeled my father and grandfather. That line that drove me so crazy is being passed down, but I have come to believe in it. It doesn’t mean that you cannot or should not shoot for the stars, but that you have to accept your limitations.

But the thing to remember is that accepting your own limitations doesn’t mean that you can’t use your melon to find a way to overcome the challenges that face you.

Before I wrap this up I want to leave you with some of my favorite quotes:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”- Thomas Edison

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” – Thomas Edison

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”- Thomas Edison

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius 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.”- Teddy Roosevelt

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