7 Blissful Years. Happy Birthday, My Son.

My dear Neo,

It was a 90 year old poem by the time I read it in 1985.

I was in an old, decrepit building, with lots of adults walking in and out, at a time long before Google, Facebook, and your favorite MineCraft.

It was a place much quieter than the Church.

It was a solemn sanctuary for me, a place where I could go to places without leaving my seat, excite me more than TV ever did, and inspire in me to become as inquisitive as I am today.

It’s called a library, my son.

We also used fingers to seek for the index and scroll over the list and, no, we didn’t have keyboards and search functions then, but if we needed help, there was always a librarian.

Someone once said that Google will give you a million answers, my son, but a librarian will give you the correct one. They may be a dying breed, but they are the repository of mankind’s literary history.

Sir Rudyard Kipling may have written it for his son, the way I am sharing it with you, but he drew inspiration from the charismatic yet doomed Leander Starr Jameson.

Now that’s a man who may have lost, but has inspired both his generation and entire country to commit to his vision, without screaming, without whining, without convincing others, but by the simple fortitude of his character.

The poem is 120 years old now but, believe me, it rings true today the way it did over a century ago.

May it guide you in your life.
IF-by-Rudyard-Kipling-1910-edition-cover

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

1895, Rewards and Fairies

Apparently, these two tough, towering competitors have also lived by the principles, my son. And they captured the world’s imagination to show sportsmanship in its highest level.

They have sacrificed themselves. They have endured pain. They have overcome obstacles. And they have confronted both the pain of agony and defeat, and the glory of winning.

They have broken all records in the sport known to man, but they  have remained friends and gentlemen both in and out of the courts. Maybe you will learn something from that.

But what do I know, I only follow the Ladies Tennis.

There’s an old Jesuit motto that says:

Show me a 7 year old boy and I’ll show you the man.

They say that, from hereon, no matter what else you learn in life, everything you’ve learned to this day will always be with you. I can only hope that we’ve taught you enough to help you with your future discovery about life.

Yesterday was your last day as a 6 year old boy.

I did not come from a hugging-family and, for some psychological reasons, I seem to have embraced the opposite concept and have applied meaningful hugs to my kids.

Over the weekend we were talking about how excited you were in turning 7 and becoming taller than me.

I held you in my hands, tighter than usual and longer than needed, to which you replied:

“You can let go now, Dad.”

All I could say was: “In a few more years, my son, in a few more.”

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No matter what happens, no matter how far you go, no matter who you’re with … just remember, you have been loved and you will always be loved.

Go, my son.

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