What my children learned from me this Father's Day.
I impart a little wisdom the best way I know how. (Bear with me.)
This Father’s Day, we didn’t make big plans. Of course, that’s due in part to there being few big plans to make — it’s not like we could take in a ballgame together or go to a theme park, not in these uncertain times. No matter; I never want more out of the day than a quiet and relaxing time at home with my family, and occasionally being able to leverage “hey, c’mon, it’s Father’s Day!” to get my kids to listen to me.
We had a nice breakfast together, went for a morning bike ride, and played in the yard. Early-summer thunderstorms moved in by the afternoon, so we hurried indoors, dried ourselves off, and huddled on the couch together.
I decided to take that moment to impart to my children some of the small wisdom I’ve gained over the years. They’re young now, but they’re growing fast, and I won’t always be right by their side. I wanted to share a lesson about the world, about life — about the journey that lies ahead of them, and what I’ve learned in my own trips around the track.
Here’s what I told them.
The road may seem long and winding, with unpredictable twists and turns. There may be times where you don’t know where you’re going at all, where you feel like you’re going backwards or even running straight into a wall. You may feel like you’re far from home, but if you just keep moving forward, you may be surprised to find yourself circling back where you started.
You will encounter all sorts of characters. There will be those who look different than you, come from different places, wear different clothes, drive different cars, have different strengths and weaknesses, different abilities. Some people will get a faster start than you. You can only run your own race, and understand that these differences are what make each of us special in our own way. It doesn’t matter if you’re a princess or a plumber, you can be the hero of this story.
Take some time to appreciate the scenery. You may reach a point in your life where you feel like you’re racing against the clock every day, but don’t let that distract you from the beauty that’s all around you. This is a world full of sandy beaches and rolling meadows, lush forests and roaring waterfalls, quaint towns and imposing castles. Some days might even feel like you’re riding through a gold mine or on top of a rainbow. Take it all in, but be careful to stay between the lines.
Keep your eyes on the road ahead of you, but don’t forget what’s over your shoulder —remember where you came from, and remember the people and places you’ve passed along the way. Nothing is ever as final as it seems, and things you’ve thought you’ve put far behind you may come up again when you least expect them.
There are opportunities to be found everywhere you go, every new box you open containing a surprise all its own. Don’t blow past these chances in your rush to keep moving forward — slow down from time to time and grab them. You may not always get the things that you want the most, but if you’re lucky, you will get what you need — and that’s all you can ever ask.
You’re probably going to encounter some failures at first; we all do. Nothing comes easy in this race, but the only thing that we can control is our own effort. Keep trying, keep practicing. After a few laps around the track, you may find that what once seemed impossible is now second nature.
You should allow yourself a moment to relish in a victory or to reflect on a loss, but always understand that each is fleeting in its own way. You can’t let the wins go to your head, though, nor the losses to your heart. There are lessons to be taken from both, but chances are the losses that sting the most are the ones you’ll learn the most important lessons from.
Hold onto that last thought for a minute, by the way.
You may think you have the game all figured out. I did once, when I was younger. But then a new generation will come along with its own ideas, its own rules, its own style of play. You have to adapt or you’ll become obsolete.
Okay, we’re almost there. Listen — I want you to understand where I’m going with all of this. Right now, I may seem like I know more than you, like I’m so far ahead of where you’re at that it hardly even seems possible that you’d catch up to me. But that won’t always be the case. One day — sooner than either of us is willing to admit — you’ll pass me. I’ll see you cruise ahead of me, fading into the distance as you take the lead your of own race.
On that day, I’ll be proud of how far you’ve come, of how much you’ve learned, and how much you’ve grown.
I won’t be sad. Instead, I’ll smile.
Because I just got the blue shell, and this shit ain’t over yet.
Hey, c’mon. It’s Father’s Day. No crying on Father’s Day.
— Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)