Thoughts for the kids II

Don’t be afraid to be eclectic in your tastes. Sample widely, consider the structure of the things, of the gestalt as well as the parts. Then decide if you like it- in food, music, art, and opinions of all sorts. Know how to listen, then how to express yourself with grace, authenticity, and directness.
Try not to put things into your head that will only make that space darker. Feasting on violence, horror, (in films, books, etc. even if “just” fiction) or the often overwhelmingly bad world news, is an indulgence that decays your heart and mind. Know what to not watch or read- what will only add to a sense of powerlessness, distress, or imaginary possibilities of destruction. Think about what will truly make you bigger in spirit as a human being, and more capable of empathy and what is just destructive mental trash. It’s not always obvious either.
Know the difference between being bold, taking a calculated risk, and being risky or reckless.
Dance with abandon regularly, and sing open throated.
Don’t ignore personal hygiene. Brush those teeth well, floss, and gently scrub all your nooks and crannies every day with a mild soap and water. Keep your hair and beards trimmed, even if to appear shaggy- make it a plan, not an accident. Know your body so if you get a truly odd mole, or something hurts, you know where, for how long, and can describe it to a good doctor. Never settle for a mediocre general physician, and make sure they have all your information.
Clean your messes.  Know how to use tools, often and correctly.  Drills as well as spell check.  Know the difference between tools and toys.
Be careful what you consume. While you may have access to many different ingestibles, many of them are not worth consuming. Read labels. Drink lots of water. Stay physically active in body and mind.
Moderation is usually a good idea in all things. An old adage that is still useful.
Learn to do a couple of things that make you feel flow. That focused intensity of purpose, and the subsequent satisfaction it can bring.
Always appreciate the people who are crafts persons about what they do- the cooks, the wait staff, the post people, the plumbers, electricians, teachers, mentors, accountants, etc. Your life will suffer from the bad ones, and be considerably better for the really good ones. Even if you don’t always notice. Learn how to tell the difference, and appreciate explicitly.
Don’t be afraid to give people compliments. But know when personal boundaries are appropriate.
Make a few good friends, and know when a friendship is no longer tenable. Be direct about it too. Know how to trust and love, and have fair self protective strategies as well.
It is never out of style to be generous of spirit, or to look out for those weaker or more in need than you. You choose your character every day from the small to the large in thought and actions. Save civil disobedience for really important moments. You should not be breaking the law but for an accident, or intent. Intentional reasons should be really, really good and be prepared for what consequences may exist. Authority should be earned (not conferred, or handed over by privilege) and not all rules are good. Question, and calculate your actions.
Cut yourself some slack- everyone makes mistakes. Perfection is impossible and sometimes the best surprises come from our mistakes. As Bill Watterson said, “Art is knowing what mistakes to keep and what to throw away.” Don’t let mistakes not worth keeping in your head rot there.
You will get hurt. It will make me miserable to not know how to help you sometimes. Learning how to bounce back, how to think about what happened without ignoring it, is a big part of living. Be good to yourself, and don’t forget that you matter.

Why does now matter?

I wrote this for my kids. I thought it was worth sharing:

Why does now matter?
Because whether or not there is any sort of afterlife is unknowable and not relevant.
Because now is tangible and real, and whether or not we cause ourselves or others pain is something we can reasonably consider and act upon.
Because what happens after now interacts with lots of variables, some of which we have no control over. A little considerate planning over the ones we do have control over makes a big difference to what comes next, but so does knowing how to react when what comes next is a complete surprise.
Because while we have laws, enforcers of laws, communal beliefs about morals, and religions that espouse to regulate and enlighten about them, all of that is constantly in theoretical and practice based flux, and usually socially corrupt at some level. Knowing yourself and choosing to live life as a thinker, learner, and choosing to be kind and open minded is the hardest road to walk. It makes what you do in the moment matter, or just reactive (without being able to trust that you have character to rely upon when needing to react).
Because you will forget. We all forget. The textures, the colors, the tastes, smells, feelings, impressions, sensations, it fades very quickly. What remains are fragments, and we are lucky when those fragments are happy- because so many of them that get lodged into long term memory are negative, for protective reasons our brains do it, but it tends to blot out or take up the space so to speak of a lot of the random happy.
Because it is all we have. I look at the sky and I know life is short. Very very short. There is so much left for me as an individual, and part of a collective species, to know. Or to even begin to grasp. And I know I will never know even a small part of it. It is terrifying and awe-inspiring. And belittling. To know enough to know how short, small, and unconnected to the big picture this time is.
Because despite all that, we have humor. We have the ability to laugh, and to recognize our own absurdity and that of others. It saves us from disappearing into the vastness of time, as much as being truly known by others does. It makes the moment matter because it can be light, as much as it can be dark.
Because it is now, and can be imagined without strict boundaries of measured clock-time, but as having elastic boundaries of what now means.
Because now offers the constant new opportunity to love, be loved, and to care. Even in the smallest way.
It’s all we really have to be certain about, I think.