Friday, September 15, 2017

Letter to Abbie

(A surprise letter I was supposed to write to my daughter for her senior year class trip to the redwoods)

Dear Abigail,
Is there anything worse for you than to read a personal letter in front of a group of people? Well, just think, only 10 more months and you will not have to see these people again, unless it’s on a voluntary basis.

There were probably quite a few heartwarming letters read tonight, I’m sure this one will not be as good, but I’m going to write it anyway.

In every graduation, commencement, wedding, or even funeral, we often hear how wonderful the person in question is or was. When it comes to family, our biases seem to run deep. Our kid is the cutest, smartest, most wonderful kid in the world. All families say that, and most mean it, but it can’t be true. Where do all the average, and less than average people come from if everyone is so amazing?

I write this letter in all honesty. Without exaggeration, or embellishment. You are truly amazing. You are.

You are intelligent.
Intelligent in a way that may not show up on a test or in an easily measured metric. You have real world experience. You have been exposed to the adult world for some time now. You work in it, you are surrounded by it. You know what is expected of you in this grown up world. You know the value of hard work. Not just the monetary value of work, but the satisfaction of seeing a job through to completion and understanding the consequences if it does not get done right. This will give you a leg up when you get out on your own.

You are kind.
I don’t think I’ve ever had to reprimand you for being mean to someone. I understand that you can be a pain in the butt for some of your teachers, but deep down inside you don’t like mean people and would like everyone to get along. You can hold a grudge, and that is something you will get better with as you get older. You will realize that in the big scheme of your life, the little, petty, crap you will come across can simply be ignored and forgotten.

You are beautiful.
Not just in the way God made you, but as a complete human being. Unless you are being Crabby Abbie, then you’re not so cute. There are people who spend way too much time, money and effort trying to make themselves look a certain way; you don’t have to. You beauty is natural. Your smile and your personality brighten a room when you walk in. You should smile more often.

You are very focused.
That is a good thing, but it can have certain drawbacks. Never let your ‘To Do List’ overwhelm your capacity to stop and enjoy the little things. A sunrise, or a sunset. Quiet time alone with God. A five minute conversation with a friend. The roar of the ocean. Stop and take it in. This life goes by fast, don’t miss the good stuff.

You have everything you need to succeed.
There are many ways to measure success. If you watch too much TV or stay glued to your phone, it's easy to have society define success for you. Nice house, cool car, a loving family with 2.3 kids. If that's what you want, great. If not, great. Define your own success. What is important to you? Do that. You know how to work hard, you are honest, and you are kind. Those three things will bring you success in any endeavor. If you want to get a Master's degree in business or if you want to live on the road as horse trainer, or any number of things you have never even thought of yet, you can do it.

Don't worry about what you want to do with your life; you're young. Do lots of things. If you want to try something, try it. Go full tilt at it for two years with all your heart. If it doesn't work out the way you wanted, you will still be smart, kind, beautiful, focused and in your early twenties. Then try something else for two years. If you don't like where that road is taking you, find another road. If it doesn't work out, well, you know the rest....

You are a remarkable young woman. Know that.  Know it down to your toes. I am incredibly proud of you and I hope you have the best senior year you can imagine.

I love you, Dad.