It’s just before Midnight on September 26th, 2017. Today your mother and I brought you home from the hospital. Someday, when you are ready, I will share this letter with you because I think that reflection is important for personal growth. As the clock ticks past midnight, I am reflecting about a conversation that I had today with my mother, your grandmother, about what childbirth means. She said, that to her, giving birth to another human being is about the past, the present, and the future. I found this intriguing – she explained, that when you look at a child, you can see the past. Some of a baby’s physical features come from their grandparents – this is a looking glass into the past. Also, some of a baby’s characteristics come from each of the parents, who also experience the birth, in the present. The parents and the baby will continue to live in parallel as the baby ages and matures. Finally, the baby will grow into it’s own individual person. The baby will be a mix of new characteristics, different from the past, different than its parents and grandparents, yet carrying a piece of the past forward. Sort of a way for the parents to live on – in part. Old and new together as one.
So, from this, I want to share with you three reflections today. One for each of – the past, the present, and the future. I hope that these might be useful to you in your life.
It was recently discovered that modern human beings have been around for at least the last 300,000 years. If most of our ancestors reached maturity around 15 years old, which is reasonable up until the last few hundred years of human history, you and I both have approximately 20,000 generations of ancestors. Let that sink in. Even with my best efforts to search ancestry.com, while your mother was pregnant with you, I could only find names for perhaps 4 or 5 generations at best. That means we have approximately 19,995 generations of ancestors for which we have no information, not even their names. Little is known, much is not.
This puts things into perspective. The things that we think are important, stressful or even joyful today, will become insignificant in the immenseness that is the past. Individual people, the generation that they are part of, the politics of that day, and even entire millennia will fall by the wayside to time. When life seems hard or difficult, try to remember this – think about how difficult it must have been for our ancestors 5,000, 20,000, and 300,000 years ago. Day to day life had very little convenience – it strikes me that the word “convenience” may not have even been invented until perhaps 5000 years ago.
I think about this every time I change one of your diapers 🙂 Our ancestors didn’t even have disposable diapers, much less the Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail (so that they wouldn’t have to smell your poopy baby butt).
Life is better now than it has ever been. This is, of course, a double meaning. Technology is better than it has ever been, but there is also a trend in 2017 toward doing Yoga, meditation, and practicing mindfulness (whatever that means) – basically focusing on the present as opposed to the past or the future. And what way is better to focus on the present than by controlling your breathing (a bit of sarcasm) – which is normally handled by your autonomic nervous system along with your blood pressure, but I digress…..
As I write this sentence, I can hear you squeak, coo and cry in the other room – I can hear one of the cats run up the stairs, and Christopher come in the room and nail the Moroccan Pouf in my office.
These moments are precious. Raising you is going to be amazing, watching you grow, seeing you become your own person, separate from your mom and me.
Tonight, before I wrote this letter, I ran to the store, picked up the Munchkin STEP Diaper Pail, then went for a two mile run, took a shower, and changed your diaper – I believe for the fifth time. Today is never easy – the only easy day is yesterday (David Goggins, my 2017 man crush), because it is done.
The future is constantly happening – it’s a constant barrage of decisions. Keep running or quit – stay in college, or drop out – lift the heavier weight today, or change the programmig because it’s too tough (a concept from weight training), procrastinate, or take action? This is the set of decisions that you will be bombarded with. We all are, but the sum of how you make these decisions will take your life in small, incremental course changes that will add up to a huge amount by the end of your life. They will be difficult to see day to day – like heartbeats, breaths, and steps, they will seem small, but will add up to huge consequences, not only in life itself, but in the way you look at life and engage with it.
Park far away and walk two minutes instead of spending that exact same time driving. Save $5 a week instead of spending it on frivolous things. Finish the book before playing the game. Finish the homework before watching TV. These are the drills that are not enjoyable today, but create a happier life in future – which in turn makes it easier to do the new drills. In the end, you can end up with the same one year of experience five years in a row, or five years of new experience. Either way, you will be five years older.
Decide what you want and make small incremental steps towards it because five years from now, you will be five years older whether you do it or not. The small incremental steps build upon themselves. This can end with feeling either content or regret. Primates are not very good at imagining the future, much less deciding what they want. Practice that skill and you will be happier over time instead of less happy as you age.
I can tell you with 100% certainty, I feel better today than I ever have. I have you sleeping in the other room with mom and the cat (Christopher) driving me nuts licking the Moroccan Pouf. I feel this good because I am content with the choices I have made to get here and I am confident that we can raise you with a better life than I had growing up.
You will face challenges in life, but I hope you will have immense opportunity as well. I want to take you to the tops of snow covered mountains, the centers of huge metropolises, and the coves of tiny islands in the middle of huge oceans because growth comes from seeing, learning and experiencing as much as possible. I will do my best to show you all the beauty that the world has to offer.
The future is bright….