On Manhood Sun, 28th December, 2014
Today, as we welcome our son Owen into the world of adulthood on his 18th birthday, I'm filled a desire to impart wisdom. A desire to set him on the path of proper manhood. A desire to send him off into the world equipped with the manly virtues of strength, courage and bravery.
But, alas, those words sound hollow to me. They are not the essence of manhood, but easy platitudes, stereotypes even, if not examined carefully. No, this day, I wish to impart true wisdom to you, my son, not convenient slogans. I don't have all the answers, but I want to share what I've learned—so far—about what it means to be an adult human being. Call it manhood, call it womanhood, call it personhood, but upon the threshold of adulthood, it is beyond a doubt a time for getting acquainted with your true self, the one with whom you'll journey on the remainder of this awesome trek that we call life.
It's my profound hope that who you are and who you continue to become will be one of your own choosing. But these words of wisdom, gleaned from a variety of sources, may be stones you can pick up along the way—stones that you may one day find have turned into precious gems.
Live in the present. As John Lennon wrote, life is what happens to us while we're busy making other plans. Don't let it happen to you.
Let yourself be vulnerable. Open up to caring people, and share your tender heart. Without connection we are nothing but tumbleweeds rolling through the desert.
Experience the awesome power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the ocean waves that topple fortresses and smooth the roughest stone.
Know that love always means having to say you're sorry. It's inevitable that we hurt the ones we love. It's what you do about it that renews and strengthens our connections.
Never stop learning and growing. As soon as you think you've figured out the puzzle, it's time to tear it apart and start again. This work is never done.
Be strong in your moral convictions. You have a good heart. Trust it. Beware of those who would ask you to compromise your values or to adopt theirs without careful examination.
Be courageous when it's time to change them. True courage is not only about defending your convictions but embracing your right to admit new evidence—and draw new conclusions.
Be brave when charting an unknown course. Sometimes the best path in life is Frost's road less traveled. Sometimes it may be a road that doesn't yet exist.
Find out who you are today. Self-knowledge is essential, but the man you are today is not the man you'll be in 5 years, 20 years or 50 years. Take the time to get reacquainted as often as you can.
Then embrace that person. Be who you are, like what you like, love whom you love.
Then love yourself without apology. Loving yourself is the price of admission to a fulfilled life.
Don't cheat the man in the glass. The only real memory I have of my grandfather Howell is the newspaper clipping he gave me upon graduation from high school. Love and compassion for others is essential, lest we live empty lives full of regrets. But above of all, you must have love and compassion for yourself. Whether it be from pride, or fear or lust, do not cheat yourself out of the happiness you deserve.
And now...it will be up to you, young man, to complete the rest of this list. I know that your life's list, like you yourself, will be an awesome and inspiring work of art.