A father's MLYM graduation message to his son.
Daniel…. up until the day that you were born, I had been living in a world of pink and tutus. But you showed up and you brought the blue into my life. I want you to know that you surpassed all my wants and dreams just by being you.
Selfishly, sure, I also saw a best friend in the making. An opportunity to relive the best years of my life. I wanted to share with you everything that meant anything to me. Mountain biking, baseball, mechanics.
As you know, I was also being a dad. Telling you how to approach things, giving you advice, trying to impart my life experiences on you so you wouldn’t have to learn things the hard way. Did I ever explain to you why I was doing that? It’s not so that you could meet my expectations… it’s so that you would be able to meet your own, even if you hadn’t set any for yourself yet.
Just so you know, I would have been perfectly okay and equally impressed with your mountain biking skills if you’d just chosen to gingerly roll down the 20-foot drop on that day that none of us will ever forget, instead of following me over the jump and ending up with a metal pipe imbedded two inches into your skull.
I never needed or expected you to be anything but there with me… preferably in one piece.
My advice isn’t intended for you to impress me… it’s just intended to make it easier for you to impress yourself, to the extent that you may want to. Because your whole life, you will have to wake up with yourself every morning, and go to sleep with yourself every night. You have to live with who that guy is. And I want for you to be a guy you can live with.
I’m always saying have a plan, get ahead of it, don’t figure things out as you go… right? I think the Great Mustang-Building Saga of the 2010s is a good example of why I say this. The fact that it took us 6 years and about 80 grand to get that thing done is a perfect example of a situation where planning would have paid off. I enjoyed every second of the time we spent together over those six years, but let’s be clear, our Mustang experience should never be considered a metaphor for life. That is not how you should do things. It’s a really good example of how not to do something.
I know I’m still giving you advice as I stand here… and while I’m at it: Travel. With me and without me. See the world, see different countries, meet lots of people. Read intelligent books by intelligent authors, see inspiring movies, and seize opportunities. I believe in chance and every moment that may seem meaningless can later prove to be game-changing.
As fathers, we hope to be able to look back without any regrets, and if I could go back and do one thing differently, I’d be there more. I don’t have to explain why I was away a lot. You and your sisters and your mother know it, you understand, and you know the payoff from the sacrifices that we made as a family, but I would choose to shift the balance a bit, and be there more… not so I could give you more advice even though I probably would, but so that I could spend more time just being with you.
You might think my favourite memories of you would be moments where you’ve excelled at something, and there are plenty of those, but the truth is, my favourite moments are the ones that seemed trivial, or even silly, like the first ride we took after your accident, and sure enough you crashed again, this time in a bush, and when I got to you, my heart pounding, you were lying there with a big goofy grin across your face, and your only comment was, “Don’t tell mom!”
I’ve always pushed you to do better for yourself, and maybe I set the bar high sometimes, but you should know that you’ve always surpassed it just by being you, like the day you were born and every day since. If you remember nothing else I’ve said… try to remember this: who you are will always be enough for me. So for yourself, try your best but stay in one piece, seize the moment, and as I’ve always said to you… work hard, be a good person and take care of your mother, the rest will fall into its place!