Poking around on Facebook this morning, I noticed a trend. For so many people, their sons are coming home for the holiday. So, this is to those sons:
Hello young man. You may not realize it now, but you are in a unique position to greatly affect the future of mankind. Because you were born on one side of the gender gap, for a great many reasons (some of them potentially nefarious), you enjoy many, many privileges many other people don’t enjoy. You should be very grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given solely because you have a different set of equipment than others.
I need to stress to you that you cannot take this responsibility lightly, because it is a responsibility. One of my favorite lines from any movie comes from my favorite, Dead Poets Society. It’s this:
“Business, law, medicine, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love … these are what we stay alive for.”
I implore you and all those like you to hold this truth close to your heart your entire life. You may be like my nephew, just entering that wonderful time of boyhood when you are playing baseball and going swimming and perhaps helping your dad shovel the front walk. You may be like my two second-cousins, young men either about to graduate from high school or already there and contemplating what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. This is a decision that you may think carries a lot more weight than you think. Do what you love, do what you are good at. But above all, do something that will make you happy and hopefully make others happy too.
Devote your life to fulfillment. Yes, it is very important to consider the feelings and hopes of others for you because as I said, you are in a unique and very real position to make life better or worse for not only the ones you love but the ones they love and on and on. So make your life about fulfillment. Do something you are good at, or something you wish to be good at. It could be fixing cars, cooking meals, telling stories or splitting atoms. Doesn’t matter. Just be damn sure that at the end of the day, you can look at what you’ve done and say “I’m proud of myself.” Because if you can say that, then others will be proud of you too.
Because here’s the thing. It took me a long time to realize this, but I think I finally got it. Your mother, your father, your sisters and brothers and friends, the thing they most want for you is to find this fulfillment. Yes, along the way, you may encounter heartache or heartbreak, but you will also experience joy and fun. You will have girlfriends and boyfriends who will drive you crazy and break your heart. They will also make you laugh and swell with pride. Your family will drive you bonkers, but chances are they want the best for you and whatever that brings with it. If you want to go serve hungry or suffering people in Africa, go do it. If you want to try to make it into the NFL, by all means, give it a shot. If you are like me, maybe you want to write a great book. Again, try your hand at that. Just don’t do any of these things half-way and always consider “Am I helping other people in this endeavor?)
I can’t stress this enough. Because you are a male, you owe it yourself to be as good of a man as you can become and serve others along the way in your quest to find purpose and meaning in this life. I wish the very best for you.
Don’t screw it up.