For My Daughter
Credit: Charlie R. Claywell

My life divides easily into two parts -- time before you were born and now. I'm hardly a perfect father, I can list the ways I have let you down. I know when I should have spoken up or remained silent. I know the times I should have championed for you and when I should have stayed out of the way.

Despite my failures, or maybe because of them, you are strong.

And all I want for you is love, happiness and peace. Soon you will be an adult, so, if you remember nothing else I've said or done, remember these four things:

  1. You were born for a purpose. Enjoy the journey. Dig deep and find your purpose -- your role in life -- because once you do, obstacles and triumphs are all the same. They are just events in your story. Embrace the obstacles and low points with as much vigor as the triumphs because without them you can never know the depth of your soul. As the Buddha says, life is suffering. Suffering is the human condition that connects all of us. It also forces us to shed the overbearing weight of the trivial and inconsequential.
  2. Listen to the still small voice, it is inside you, just listen. You have to listen quietly, every day. Nourish your inner self. Develop the habit of quieting your mind. As you learn to listen and follow your inner voice, life will unfold perfectly. It's not easy at first, but it gets easier with practice. As you listen, you grow. You may outgrow friends. Some may lash out -- especially when you desert their path to follow your own. It's okay.
  3. Believe in Yourself.  Few things are harder than learning to believe in yourself --  especially in the beginning. It's not your fault. The world is full of pessimistic, cynical and critical people. Going against the tide is hard. It's really hard. But stand tall for something good and wholesome. Champion what resonates with you. Life is about doing that one thing -- whatever the one thing is for you -- believe in it. I know, it's harder to believe than not to, but learn how to believe anyway.
  4. Be Kind To Yourself. You will fall. You may even reach a breaking point. Let it go. It's okay to walk your path slowly at first. It's okay to get lost, to get turned around, to be confused. It's okay if tomorrow everything you believe today is replaced by new beliefs. Embrace them. Be kind to yourself while learning to trust that still small voice. Walk, crawl or run, just keep coming back to your path until you find a way to stay on it for good.  It is the only road that can give you peace, happiness and love.

And one last thing, remember I'm human too and never embrace my mistakes. Learn from them.