Letters to my sons

A collection of thoughts and lessons I've learned along the way for my little men, and anyone else that's interested.

Posts tagged with #Time

My son,

As you know by now, I try to be a pretty intentional person. I heard something the other day that I absolutely loved, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Wherever it is you want to go, there is a long and conventional path, and there are shorter, less conventional approaches. The long conventional path is the outcome of not paying attention. It’s what happens when you let other people dictate your life.

I’ve found this to be extremely true in my experiences.

While I do believe it is sometimes beneficial to not pay attention, those times should be explicitly decided upon. Some of the best memories I’ve had were days where a few of us had no firm plans or designs, but rather played the day by ear and presently discovered that we had a fabulous time as a result. Those are days that are intentionally unintentional, and aren’t the subject of my attention today.

What I’m referring to today is the consciousness and critical nature that is required at a grander scale. It is more than just ability; it is a trained state of mind, a refined attribute that may take years of intentional practice to adequately acquire.

It is the art of knowing what pieces of input to process and come back to, and what to discard and not spend time on. It is the discipline to remember to step back and look at the bigger picture ervery so often. It is having the audacity to challenge the norms that are given to you, that you’re supposed to just accept.

The truth is that society doesn’t want you to do that. It wants to raise a geeration of people that are easily influenced by the latest greatest marketing trends that are out there. Capitalism is selfish by nature, and so it will do everything in its power to numb your senses and have you follow the path that profits it the most.

If you don’t have a plan for yourself, someone else will and you’ll fall into that.

My challenge to you today is to make sure you’re paying enough attention to be able to intentionally choose which path you take. Because even if there are many paths to your destination, time is the resource that you’ll never get back. So make the most of your time and pay attention to what you’re doing, where you’re going, and who you’re going there with!


My son,

One of the most sobering realizations that you’ll have in your life is that your life this side of heaven is finite. As I noted last month, time is the only resource in life that we will never get back. Each moment that you spend is one that you’re never going to get back. So how do we make the most of it? And what’s that got to do with self-respect?

Quite a bit actually.

Self-respect is the thing that lets you own your own destiny, that lets you fearlessly choose the path that you want to take. You are beautifully and wonderfully made - own that. Claim it. Run with it.

There are all sorts of benefits from having a strong sense of self-respect, of self-esteem, but the fundamental thing is that it gives you confidence to be your own man, to do things that may not be popular, to stand up against opposition, and to do the things that you believe in.

  • Confidence to fight for the little guy.
    This one is arguably the most important. In this world, there are so many people without voices - the sick, the poor, the scrawny kid in class that gets picked on, the girl on the bus that no one wants to sit with.

    To each of these, Jesus asks us to love them as He loves us. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells us that "whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me".

    In my own life, I've found that this one is extremely difficult. It's so hard to step outside the norm, to go against the grain, to put yourself out there to stand up for the little guy. But just think - how much harder is it for them?

  • Confidence to stand up for what you believe.
    We live in an age where the social norm is to not offend, to not have beliefs that could show disapproval to anything that popular culture deems is acceptable. We have axioms like "it's the nail that sticks out that gets hammered".

    Never in the history of our world has there been a need for people to stand firm in what they believe in, to have a deep rooted sense of morality, and to be that light on a hill for all to see.

  • Confidence to be alone.
    It's tough being alone. Whether it's being circumstantial - being home alone for an evening, going to an even like prom alone, or even taking a vacation on your own - or if it's a longer term thing like being single while your friends are coupled off, being alone is tough.

    Having self-respect gives you the confidence and sense of self enough to be not just okay with those situations, but to stop seeing them as inflictions and instead to start seeing them as opportunities.

  • Confidence to strike it out on your own.
    It's a basic human instinct to seek safety, and to seek safety in numbers. Striking out on your own goes against that very nature and by definition isn't easy.

    But so much of life, so much about being a man, so much about an enriching experience is only accomplished and experienced when you strike out on your own. Being your own man isn't easy, but it's absolutely essential.

  • Confidence to ask her to marry you.
    Nothing is more nerve wracking than when you find yourself on one knee holding a little box with a ring that costs 3 months of your salary in it. Nothing.

    And no matter what anyone else tells you, nothing should be.

    Finding a life partner that you can run with, laugh with, celebrate with, and mourn with is so hard, and when you finally find her, asking her to be yours as long as you both shall live is nerve wracking. As it should be.

    Having confidence in yourself lets you realize that it's just as hard for her, and that it's just as big of a commitment for her as it is for you. And that's a good place to be.

So my prayer is that as you grow into a young man that you would have confidence in the man that God is created you to be, and that out of that understanding of self, of self-worth, of self-respect and self-esteem can come a heart for the world that is kind, considerate, protective, bold, and courageous. I love you, my boy.


My son,

There’s a natural tension in life between today and tomorrow. As you know, time is the only resource in life that we will never get back, and so we naturally want to maximize that. This creates the dilemma of whether we should invest in tomorrow or if we should spend on today.

As much as I would love to give you a hard and fast rule for which choice to make, the reality is that the richest lives are lived somewhere in the middle - investing enough in tomorrow while still spending time today to live your life.

So then what are we talking about today?

Balance.

A rich and full life is one that balances our investments in the future - school, learning, reading, developing skills and interests - with our enjoyment of today - shooting the breeze with friends, sitting on the deck and enjoying the sunset, standing in awe of the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen.

Asian culture tells us to invest in tomorrow. We’re taught to save our money and to invest it. We’re constantly reminded to work hard today so that we can be successful tomorrow. We’re reminded to think about the big picture, about the life that we want to have later, about our next job, our future wife and family, our retirement plans.

And yet there’s no emphasis on today.

In that sense, tomorrow is something that is always coming but never comes.

And that’s my challenge for you today. While investing in the future, make sure you take the time to smell the roses. Make time to do it. And do it big. Whether this means turning on your noise-cancelling headphones and cranking up your favorite epic song, sitting outside with a glass of wine and watching the sun set over the horizon, or taking a walk down a familiar street with the love of your life.

Those are the moments - those perfect, timeless moments - that give you strength to keep pushing forward. Those moments you’ll remember for a lifetime, and will ultimately confirm for yourself that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.


My son,

I love speed. You know this. But every so often, life needs a speed check.

Don't get me wrong - speed is great. It's exhilarating. It's adrenaline-inducing. It's memory-making.

But there comes a time when you need to slow down and take special care to the details that you might miss at high speeds. Here's why.

  1. Speed requires you to be looking forward always - since things come so quickly at you, you need to be focused on what's ahead to make sure you don't slam into a wall. And this is a great thing - focus enables us to do great things. It gives us purpose, gives us goals, gives us a drive to continue onward. But it also makes the things not in front of us relegated to our peripheral vision only.
  2. Speed requires you to act on instinct and intuition. Again, this can be a great thing - if we know the path ahead and are sure footed, this isn't a problem. But when the road becomes less clear and the path less obvious, speed gives us less time to react and adjust.
  3. Speed dulls your other senses, and you can get tunnel vision.

While all of those things aren't bad in themselves, life is about balance. Sometimes you have to slow down in order to see clearly. Sometimes, you need to take in all that's around you, examine the details, and see the hidden beauty in the things that are all around.

Remember that life isn't just about having a singular goal, even though at times those may be there. Life is about more than that - it's about the journey, about the people that are with you, about the small unexpected circumstances that you may find yourself in. It's about the small shared moments of disappointment. It's about the shared experience of comfort. It's about walking together through struggles. It's about celebrating together through victories. It's about making the most out of every moment that you've got, and sometimes, sometimes, you need to slow down to notice those things.


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