[To my friends: I’ve been tinkering with this post for almost two weeks. It’s the most frustrating of my letters to my daughter and makes me wish I had told my wife about my blog so she could edit it. I’m posting it so I can move on to new posts. However, I’ll probably revise this one forever. ]
The mistakes I’ve made in my life haunt me. Probably more than they should. But I can’t help it and I can’t forget them.
I wish I could take what I’ve learned and transfer that knowledge directly to your mind, helping you avoid the same ones. But I know you need to make your own.
Perhaps, I can help you in an unusual way.
If a butterfly flaps its wings in Hawaii, will it affect the weather in California? This is my version, by the way. And, my answer is “no, it will not. Or, there is no way to prove it.” However, if a nuclear power plant melts down in Japan, will it affect California? Yes.
So, there are obvious, major events we can measure – radiation – and events we can’t – the influence of the butterfly’s wings.
But when it comes to your life, the butterfly flapping its wings, or the small event seemingly with little impact at the time, matters a great deal.
Think of the timeline of your life, past and future. Actions or a lack of action in your life, especially early on, will change your life when you’re older – for better and worse. In my case, worse.
I think of my life now and believe it should be easier than it is. I should know more than I do. I should know how to do more things – play the guitar, solve harder math questions, identify more plants and trees, make more money, have the perfect career. I should be in a better position to take care of you and your mother.
And when I look back on my life, my situation now is a creation from simple actions I took or didn’t take when I was younger – when opportunity presented itself. I hung out with the wrong people and made the wrong choices, and never factored in the future.
Here’s the simple equation: (here and now + anything goes) – an eye on the future = the hole you’ll have to dig yourself out of for the rest of your life.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, or must work yourself to the bone. Have fun. Enjoy life. Just remember little events and choices have potentially big consequences later on in life. You’ll have to live with the good and bad decisions. No matter what though, don’t beat yourself up like I have. Let the bad ones go.
I’ll leave you with this. Until you know exactly what you want with your life – what makes you the happiest – open as many doors as possible, try as many far-reaching experiences as possible. Play the guitar, the piano. Learn karate. Skeet shoot. Make a quilt. Study as much math as possible. Appreciate science and nature.
Better yet, ignore everything I’ve listed and go your own way, but always love your Mother no matter what.
It’s my hope one day when you’re in a tough situation, on your own, with someone leaning on you to do something you know is probably not the best choice for you to make, this post will remind you to imagine the butterfly and the air currents its flapping wings displace. And strength will come to you from the knowledge that those currents can only travel a long way into your future if you allow them to.