On your first birthday, I wrote a letter to you. After a year of many “firsts” – crawling, walking, getting your first tooth, saying your first word – I was overwhelmed with emotion. As is my way, I wanted to put those feelings into words on paper.
Now, with another important “first” taking place as you graduate from high school, I am again writing a letter to you. The sentiments are similar in many ways: I still experience much the same amazement and gratitude and joy when I look at you; I still hold dear the hopes and dreams for your future; and I continue to consider your precious life one of my greatest achievements.
In the years to come, I hope this humble advice will stay fresh in your mind and help you live up to your potential.
Remain true to yourself. Know who you are, what you believe in and where life’s boundaries lie. That’s not to say your beliefs and boundaries will be constant; they will change continually as your life evolves. But who you are is always yours.
Don’t judge others by the same set of rules as you judge yourself. No two lives are the same – what is mediocre to some may be exceptional to others. Leave behind a positive feeling when your life touches someone else’s, even briefly.
Feed your curiosity, as you always have. There is always more to discover, another way to look at things. You already have many unique ideas, perspectives and philosophies – never stop looking more deeply.
Strive to reach your goals, however far they seem. Graduating high school is an admirable goal to reach, but only the first of many. Go out and be successful, in whatever you choose to do. Your many talents, your confidence and your perseverance will serve you well.
Take time to appreciate the journey; the years will pass before you know it. Experience the here-and-now with gratitude for whatever you may be learning, the easy way or the hard way. Life’s lessons should be accepted with grace – then filed away for future reference.
I will end with one final thought: never underestimate the power of love: for yourself, your family and friends, your fellow human beings. There is nothing greater.
I will always love you with the depth and ferocity I’ve felt since before you were born. I will support and encourage you and be there when you need me (and even when you don’t).
This “first” is the stepping stone to the life ahead of you. I will watch with pride as you take that step, not knowing where the path may lead.
I can’t wait to see where you go.