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A few words to live by for my future son


November 2016.

My son,

In a few weeks you will be born, squeezed out from your cosy amniotic shelter. You will be loved. You are already loved and wanted more than you can imagine. Perhaps there isn’t a need to say it, but I will say it anyway. I will love you unconditionally. So will your mother, brother, sister, and wider family. You must never forget this fact; unconditional love is the most important lesson in life!

While you have been growing inside your mummy’s beautiful belly, I have had eight months in which to consider my life and the things that are important to me, the things that I want to tell you, show you, and the relationship that I want to build with you. Like the importance of good coffee! And how to make good scrambled eggs with bacon. And the pleasure of singing, especially with someone you love. And that I will torture you for years with my piano. But I will also take you mackerel fishing to compensate. And teach you how to ride a bike and bake bread, among many things. And so, as the moment of your entry into this world approaches, I have recorded some of my meandering thoughts in this letter to you. 

Be kind to others and believe in the goodness and humanity of others. Most people are imbued with intrinsic positivity, decency and kindness. Never forget this, and never despair of other human beings, regardless of how much violence and wickedness you see in the world. These are only perpetrated by small numbers of men. As Edmund Burke said almost 250 years ago, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing”. History has shown us many times that there will always be many good men such that evil will never succeed. Be one of those good men.

Treat others as you would like them to treat you, and behave towards others with mutual respect and consideration, regardless of how they may look, what they may think, or whether you agree or disagree with their views. It is possible to respect and treat with respect those with whom you disagree and those whom you don’t like. Remember this fact, and also that all humans are equal and deserve to be treated equally. Try never to devalue anyone, not for any reason.

Do not let the physical or constitutional make-up of another person colour your view of their equal humanity. And never be afraid to speak out against injustice, unfairness, and dishonesty. Justice, fairness, and honesty are fundamental tenets of good citizenship. Be a good citizen.

Remember that if something is worth doing, then it is worth doing well; it deserves your best endeavour. At all times, give of your best. Be proud of your best, regardless of whatever judgement others make. Respect, listen to and value your elders; they have wisdom and knowledge that can be hard to see or appreciate until you too become old. But trust me, respect, listen to and value your elders. Especially your father!

Never become a slave to materialism. Money is of no value in itself, but is simply a tool that facilitates maximisation of life. Be selfish for experience in life, open your eyes wide and see as much as you can of the world around you. Do not worry about time. It will pass for us all, and we will all die one day. Live the time you have to the full and drink in as much life as you can, like Henry David Thoreau, who said: “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.”

Love your mother. It is worth repeating. Love your mother… even when she is telling you to tidy your room and have a shower. You will understand this when you are 15. When your parents are old, be kind to them. Help them live out their days with dignity in their own home.

Most important of all my son, love and treasure love. It is the singular and uniquely most important aspect of life. In many respects. As I write this letter to you, after 42 years I have come to agree with John Nash, who said: “I have made the most important discovery of my… life: It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found.” So, please my son, love living in every aspect. Life is previous and valuable and will pass all too quickly.

Finally my son, be sure to love yourself, however you are. If you think I wish I had more hair on my head, you’d be right, but I have learned to love my balding head because it’s the only one I have. If I don’t love my head, who else will? So please, remember to love everything about yourself, EVERYTHING, regardless of what anyone else thinks. You are worth it my son. You are most certainly worth it.

Your father.

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