My son Sebastian graduates from Harker High School this week. At the request of his adviser I wrote him a letter to capture this moment in time, and my advice for his future.
May 16, 2012
On a train in New Jersey
As you read this you should know words are an inadequate way to express the depth of our love and admiration for you. But let me try to share with you how Dad and I see you and feel about you.
You have become a marvelous young man – literally “causing great wonder” – and I am thrilled for you. Three sets of parents have contacted me to tell me how you made a difference in their kid’s lives this year. Your kindness, leadership and caring for the younger kids is unusual and a sign of your big heart. The world is a tough place to live for everyone, regardless of wealth and status, and it is the people who are kind and caring of others that can make life easier and happier for the people around them. No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, never lose that wonderful part of you.
With leadership comes responsibility. You are blessed with natural charisma. People are going to follow you once you discover the depth of your personal power. I suspect you have only scratched the surface so far. You began to feel it on stage and it has been such fun to watch you develop your glorious, funny stage presence. You have talent and charm. A potent combination.
When combined with confidence and a passion to make the world a better place in some way, personal power can be a very positive force. When combined with insecurity or selfish purpose it can be very destructive. My wish for you is that you stay grounded in the strength and vision you have and don’t let insecurity or fear distract you. Stretch your intellectual muscles, open your mind and explore what kind of life and purpose you want and you’ll figure it out. But stay positive always. Don’t give in, as some people do, to negative judgments of others. Everyone needs your warmth and leadership, even if they can’t ask for it.
Please learn how to care for your health my darling. Our bodies need exercise to stay healthy. Especially in our family. Your passion for learning, theatre, music and video games does not leave much time to care for your body. Don’t forget it and wake up one day at war with it. Going to college is a great time to change your routine and build time in to exercise, but going to college in a big city is also a very hard time to do so, so pay attention.
And your mind… You have a big brain and there is no greater asset in the Western world to build a career with. We are so very, very proud of how your thought processes are developing and, I confess, truly delighted that you are following the math route. If you study maths or engineering you can do anything. Anything. Technology is the engine of our world now and it is going to change every aspect of human life in ways we cannot yet imagine.
You are living in an incredibly exciting time and you will, in some way, be a part of the dramatic changes the next 50 years will see. Its very important you work hard though. Hard work now and for the next 10 years will profoundly change the choices you have for the following 50 so please, please don’t waste your time. Dad and I have worked hard because it gives us freedom. Freedom for our family, freedom of choice, freedom to work on ideas we find interesting. Freedom of choice in how you spend your time is incredibly precious and allows you to pursue your passion. Dad and I both believe this and we exercise our freedom in different ways, both pursuing joy and happiness.
Finally, we hope you find someone to love, and who loves you, to share your life with. While there are many times in life that it is just fine to be alone, especially when you are young, there are also many times when being with someone you care about makes a huge difference to the quality of your life. When you are really happy, when you are down, when you are ill, when you are celebrating, when you are exploring a new world, or rebuilding your old one, when you are raising children or taking care of aging parents – all are times when being with another person and sharing the experience with another person changes the joy and quality of the experience. Really corny I know, but true. So date lots of girls, be kind to them when it’s over, have a great time in college, but when you meet that one person who makes you really happy more than half the time hang on to her. And be loyal to your friends, they’ll save your life more than once!
You are beloved. Much loved. By Dad and me, by Melanie, by Granny and Grandad, by Farmor. By your aunts. Your family loves you deeply and forever. Because you are you, and you are one of us, and we choose to love each other unconditionally. Like black Labradors.
I hope we are alive to see you graduate from college, and dance at your wedding, and kiss your first child, and help you plant your first garden, and kite board with you, and climb ruins with you in exotic places, but in case one of us is not keep this letter. I love you so much tears are dripping onto my iPad as I write. I know, I can see you rolling your eyes, but one day you’ll feel the same way about someone and it is a wonderful feeling. When you were born and I held you for the first time I felt I was looking into the face of God (note God is the word I use for the deep mystery we feel in love, whether or not you are atheist).
Congratulations on your graduation from high school. Congratulations on emerging as a fine, honorable young man with such a bright future. Enjoy it. Celebrate it with your friends. And most of all — Be happy!
All my love from your over-the-top, unabashedly proud