Friday, 2 May 2014

Letter to my son (Part II)

Son, resolve never to fight life. Or go head first against it. Some things are unbeatable. Life has it all decked up for you. The alignment is as epic as the planetary position of our solar system. There are things you cannot fight against and expect to win; no matter how determined or persistent you are. So you’ll have to learn to walk the other way when you are confronted with them. You have to choose your battles, select your fights.
I guess living with reality is living with limitations. What is important is
 to admit to them and move on with life the best way you know how. Let me give you a whiff of what I mean. Here is one unbeatable life's truth: You cannot change everybody.
This is one truth you cannot not accept.  And the earlier you come round to accept this my son, the more at peace you’ll be in your life. Of course, I am not asking that you give him or her up. There are still soft power, timely nudges and gentle persuasions. You can still be a positive influence.
there is only so much you can do. Your time, affection and commitment are all limited. You can only plant the seeds and pray that the birds or the wind will not take them away. The rest is really out of your hand. Sometimes, for some people, the handful in your life, the agents of change rest in factors beyond you. For the stick in the mud and the frozen hearts, time and happenstances are better teachers than you. And there will be the rare few who will take their unchanged self to the graves;
 leaving a trail of painful irreconcilables.
On your part, you must learn to let go. You must work to change yourself rather than persist in changing some people. It is trite to say this but here goes: Always know that you must be the change you wish to see in others. Only when you have achieved that can you say with buoyancy of spirit that you have done the utmost in your life.
And son, never underestimate how such personal change can change others. Somehow the testimony of a transformed life
 impacts more lives, far deeper and more enduringly, than mere words of advice.
Here is another truth that is unbeatable, and please do not fight it. Here it is: There will be some people out there who will excel in their life, that is, becoming rich and famous, and most of the time, it has nothing to do with hard work or honesty.
I know this sounds petty. I should be asking you to mind your own business. That would seem to be a better advice. But this is my point. We are people who can't
 resist the urge to compare, especially when they are people we know. Most of them will inspire us with their achievements. We will want to walk in their shoes and go the distance to emulate them. This however does not apply to everyone. There will inevitably be some people, in the minority, who will achieve success by chance or otherwise. They will either gain it without any effort like an inheritance or a lucky dip at the lottery or through dishonest and corrupt means.
 course, we should share in the joy of those who come to a windfall. It is not called random fortune for nothing my dear. You see my son, you can't choose your birth parents (although I am so blessed to have you). Neither can you kelong a lottery strike. They just happened. And they will happen anyway to whomever lady luck chooses to unsparingly favor. This is the way life, in all her ironic variety, indiscreetly surprises us.
At such time, petty or otherwise, I will hazard a
 guess that you may feel a pinch of longing for that kind of luck or feel a little sore over your current station in life. This is normal, even expected. I will in fact expect nothing less. Welcome to living the raw reality of everydayness my son. But I am sure such feelings will soon pass for you. During such time, I want you to never forget that the greatest privilege of life is to be you. And I want you to live it up because true enduring success is mostly about what money cannot
 buy like my love for you (and your sisters). That is definitely not a cliché, trust me.
Then, there is the other class of success. This is where gains are secured through illegal means. They may be your friends or people you respect like your bosses. They may flaunt their wealth and boast about it. Or they may keep it under wraps. Either ways you know that their success in the material sense is highly questionable or things just do not add up.
Here again, I need you to know that everybody live their life in the best way they know how. I
 have come across a man who loves his wife dearly but cannot live without his mistress. I know of another who profits from his office via questionable means so that he could share the spoils with others, leaving the larger share for himself of course. Then there are religious leaders who commit heinous crimes behind closed doors and yet pray for others for redemption and repentance. And high profile people like politicians, celebrities and business leaders who walk a morally fuzzy line. At
 times, the currency of success is more about lying your way through rather than telling the truth at all costs. You will one day know what I mean when you encounter your own moral crossroad.
So, my son, the real world is generally clean and habitable except for those hard-to-reach corners where sludge and slime like to gather in troves. There is actually little that you can do about it because in the very same way that the wheels of the bus go round and round, some lubricating grease is needed to make this world spin round and round too. And to say that people as a whole are uncorrupt is as accurate as saying that gravity takes a day off on Sunday.
Now I do not want you to sweat too much over this. 
Some things are just the way they are because this is an imperfect world. The excuse of course is not so much in the imperfection but in what is clearly unavoidable. Let me explain this as I bring this love letter to a close.
My son, people will fail you. They really will. I will too. There are times when I overreacted. Other times, I regretted what I did or say. If imperfection ever needed a poster child, I would fit the role even before the poster ink dries. As you grow up, you must never forget that to err is indeed 
human and to be human is to err. No one is spared making mistakes. Unlike random luck, mistakes will happen with unrandom certainty.
But the beauty of it all is that a mistake is not final. It is in fact a beginning, and for a special class of mistakes, the beginning unfortunately claws back a long long way. There is a price for everything I guess. Nevertheless, it is still a new beginning and most people do change after that. Underscore "most".
So, my son, in this life, I want you to always watch out for 
the hopeful and not the hopeless, always expect the corrigible and not the incorrigible, and always believe the best in people and not the worst. This is a lesson that even this uber-skeptical dad of yours is still learning.
Now, going back full circle, in a larger scheme of things, many dubious acts committed are just part and parcel of how humanity as a whole live their life. It is at times unavoidable because greed, lust and pride are the demons that all of us will have to grapple with in our own life. Some overcome
 them. Others succumb to them. Some have family support and make amends. Others are alienated and seek revenge. 

But whatever it is, everybody has a story to tell. On this, let me quote what a Siberian elder once said, "If you don't know the trees, you may be lost in the forest. If you don't know the stories, you may be lost in life." And the problem with these individual stories are that their endings have yet to be written. Even its author has yet to complete the final chapter. And every unfinished story must be given the chance to finish because only the finished story gives you the whole picture.
My son, we have to learn to give
 a life the time and space it needs to grow, to make mistakes, to fall, to rise, to make amends, to pay the price, to overcome, to emerge, to earn the trust, to achieve success, to taste failure, to grow up, to come to terms, to reconcile, and most of all, to live and to learn at its own pace and time. Because given enough time, and given the needed space, many lives will pleasantly surprise you. And don't be surprised if they inspire you too. Cheerz.

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