To My Son On His 21st Birthday

Thos., Happy 21st Birthday, son!

The card with The Wizard Of Oz characters on the front may seem like an odd card for a young man's 21st birthday, yet I think it hits four important points that are essential to a happy, serene and meaningful life--which, at least to me means a successful life.

What I hope your Mother and I have taught you is that an age such as 21 means very little when it comes to what I call "life competence". There are certain attributes and morals that will serve you well should you attain and live by them (and I believe you are on your way, but it's a never-ending life long education to that end).

First, successful and competent adults have "heart" as the Tin Man so much wished to have. A good heart keeps you grounded and appreciative of whatever your station in life, respectful and understanding of others different than you or those needing a helping hand, and resolute in your beliefs. Heart keeps you steady in reaching your goals. You might say "heart" is like having passion for life--being passionate in all you do. And ethical in all you do. Your moral heart will steer you clear of short cuts, work arounds, rationalizations, shoddy work and unfair dealings of any kind. Those with heart take life seriously, realize their time on earth is limited and strive to make the most of the journey for themselves and others. With honor even in loss.

Life takes "courage," a trait the Lion knew he lacked and wanted so badly. Life can be scary and dangerous at times. It can be easy to give up or give in. Your courage will see you through those times. Plus, even in good times there are always serious decisions to be made that take the courage of your convictions. As you marry and start a family your decisions will take on an even more dramatic meaning. Your decisions will affect those you love dearly.

Courage allows one to expand their comfort zone, allows you to embrace change and comforts you when your decisions do not create the expected result. Courage and heart go together hand in hand, usually. It's difficult to be courageous without the passion of your convictions. Without heart there is nothing to be courageous about.

The Scarecrow feared he lacked "brains." Even the most fool hardy, lazy and self centered have innate ability. Yet, few cultivate that ability or use reason and logic as effective tools in their life. So often we live for the moment with no other considerations.

Few use their potential which is a sad, sad waste of what the Good Lord gave us. You must not take your intellect, your reasoning ability and your sensibilities for granted. Nurture and use those tools. Accept that to improve your life means continually learning. Learning takes effort and lazy men who are unwilling to grow mentally are rarely successful, and I don't mean just financially. What I do mean is that when one stops learning their life can often stagnate.

Your knowledge will spark the passion of your heart. Your passion will be tethered by courage. No matter what your bank account says a full life will emerge. You will live such that at your dying breath there will be no regrets.

Oh, and one more thing. For those of us so inclined, a good woman by our side is an important ingredient in our success, whether her name is Dorothy or not. And a good woman likes a man with heart, courage and intellect. Just ask your Mother. (!)

Happy Birthday, son. I love you,

1 comment:

  1. A Happy Birthday from us as well. Live long and prosper. Most importantly, become the man your father thinks you are.