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