As unlike your senior year experience is as compared to my own, one thing is similar. Getting mentally prepared for going out on my own was tough. The things you do consciously and unconsciously to enable yourself to take that step are almost archetypal in their commonness. I want you to know, now that I see it from the vantage point of a father rather than a son, that it's difficult, necessary, important, emotional and beautiful from this side of the aisle as well. I want to say that I think it's possible to enjoy your last full year at home and still be ready and fortified for the adventure of college life. Our job and obligation as parents has always been to prepare you for this point. How'd we do? I don't really know but I'd say we didn't do too bad! Never be afraid to take a chance, be yourself and love and be loved.
This year is / will be full of little milestones; little points of light that illuminate the road you've traveled and hit at the road that lies ahead. Now, as always, it's a question of life in the moment. Taking care of business, trusting in the future. You can't hold onto this Senior year, you can't slow it down or speed it up. Your friends, like you, are part out there and part inside themselves thinking, planning, hoping. You've touched so many people on your short trip to date, probably more than you know. And you'll keep on affecting people as you go on from here. Make your own choices, consider your strengths and use them to their fullest.
A somewhat disjointed string of thoughts this morning Joanna. Every one a separate theme I could have expanded on. Instead, I touched each one like a prayer. I love you!
This is your class year - 2006! Ring it in loud! Ring it in proud! After a long stretch of house guests it feels strange (good) to be sitting home by myself writing to you this morning. Essays, applications seem so "yesterday." Waiting, working, dancing almost tripping through the winter now - eye on the spring. Time flies by. It always does. Blink and it's tomorrow. You have chosen your list of candidates for your reasons and now they will choose you for theirs. Feel, love, work, be happy, enjoy, cherish, hold on, let go, fly (home).
Your hearts treasure lies and waits while you travel on the shimmering arc of your life's path. Is it the destination or the journey that matters most? A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Take it!
Fly away! And on your way - from time to time, stop and remember! You may have to fight for that extra point, for that extra base, for that drink of water. Be prepared! And when it's your turn - share.
Second half time now - downhill fast. Stay loose and keep your weight back. It's a long way to go to the last page of this chapter of (in) the book of life... of your life, so stay focused. I say the end of this chapter but there really is no "end" per se. Your life will just roll on and on through one stage to the next. School years are some of the shortest, most defined stage of your life. How will you define the years after college? As your 20s? Your 30s? Your child rearing years? Who knows? I know that right now your high school ship is heading into the harbor. As the years go by I think you will look back on this time at BC as a good time in your life. Hopefully a good time that prepared you for the good times ahead. I love you so much!
Always there are things worth fighting for. Dreams worth striving for. Friends worth sharing. Strangers worth helping. Lovers worth loving. People worth forgiving. Never stop looking inside yourself for what you are really meant to do. Never stop looking around you for what needs doing. Shake the hand that helps you and offer your hand to help others. Go out the door each morning with your dreams on the tip of your brain and thankfulness in your heart. Work for the things. Want these things. Live for love.
Taking steps to the door marked "Exit" on one side and reaching for the handle on the door on the other side marked "Entrance." There's quite a few steps left to take actually, classes, tests, breaks, softball, internships, an 18th birthday. Take all these steps slowly. Savor them like your favorite food. Enjoy them, even the hard ones, they'll never come again. Nothing ever comes again and we never seem to appreciate our time when we have it. But try to anyway. Not to hold onto things that are fleeting, but to appreciate and experience them wholly, share them, enjoy them, and let them go and carry them with you as you walk through the next of many doors. Have love. Have faith. Have hope. Have fun.
You know, how easy it will be to deal with your goin' away to college is not the point for me right now. I'm sure it will be hard for me, but I think I understand something of the natural order of things and I will be able to deal with it. I'm more invested in you right now to worry about me. I'm so proud of the young woman you're turning into right before my eyes. And I'm hopeful that the right one of all these colleges you've poured your heart and dreams into will recognize and appreciate and want that same young woman too. I'm patient; I'm livin life one day at a time; I'm watching the trees for signs of spring; I'm enjoying these days. I hope you are too.
None of us ever can know what is in store for us in our lives. It's just not possible to know the future. All we can know or seek to know, is our own selves and what goals will make our souls grow and expand to our fullest capacity. Sure we have dreams, we make plans that depend on other people to come true, but the important goals are ours and ours alone to achieve. You have to look inside yourself and find the path that you alone must walk. Right now you're at the threshold of your college career. You chose your schools to apply to and now they've all responded. You have your choices but are any of them where you really want to end up? If not, then choose the one that will better prepare you to apply again to a school you really want next year. It's your career. It's your dream. Don't settle for anything less than your hearts desire. I love you so much!
So U of A it is! I'm so happy for what I know will be a fabulous adventure of discovery and growth. There will be plenty of challenging work, new friends, new experiences, new ideas for exploration and fun in the sun as well. The selection process was a long and necessary road to walk and you walked it well. I can feel your comfort at your selection. I can feel the "rightness" of it as a starting point for your higher education. Now all that's left is a few exams, an internship, and a softball championship. I love you so much!
There's a fine line sometimes between happy and sad. As fine as a thought of leaving home. As thin as a plan for new friends in a new place. It's as plain as the nose on your face. I know. Everyone knows. The stages of life, the changes of venue, the comings the goings the goodbyes the hellos. Finish strong and move along. It's all you can do. It's what you must do. Don't worry, your Brooklyn tail will wag behind you wherever you roam. It will always be home. Go ahead and be sad and be happy. You deserve both! Love you so much.
Work, like anything else you can think of, is what you make of it. (Picking up a theme here?) Go on out there and try things - that's how you learn about yourself and the world, but whatever you try give it your all, see what's really there, what the limits are, what the applications to your life lie inside. Lots of options, most of which may not be appropriate but don't settle for anything because it's easy, choose it because it's right. I love you so much Joanna.
Appreciate your life. Be thankful for your good fortune. Share your gifts. Help those around you to realize their own gifts. It's because we "stand upon the shoulders of giants" that we can see so far. Look for opportunities to grow. Look for opportunities to share your love.
Remember that everyone in the world feels as you do, that they're special and deserved and loved. Everyone has the same rights as you, but everyone is not as fortunate, blessed, loved, gifted. Be kind. What a gift kindness is to both give and receive. Be kind! I love you so much!
Its your world now - your choices, your dreams, your path to walk. I'm here, mom's here - whatever we have done we did because we thought it was best. Whatever we can continue to do we will - we always will. We won't change too much - what you see is what you get with us - and I'm sure that some of what we are will be what you need from time to time. Life isn't always a straight line from point A to point B. It loops de loops and zigs and zags and goes forward and returns. It's the great thing about life I think. You can look back and follow the path, but looking ahead it's only til the next turn. Just keep your eyes on the prize and put one foot in front of the other and you'll be OK!
"The East" with its mass of people and history and old buildings - small and huge - dense, teeming, diverse, chaotic, frenzied is home - at least it's always been home for you - for us. (Me? I grew up all over the place - every 2 or 3 years a new town, a new school, new friends - very different than your experience). But "the West" is a cool place (in a hot way) and I think you'll love it's "differentness," its open spaces, its huge sky, its warmth, its people, and all the other differences you've yet to discover, and will discover, for yourself. You can't help being nervous about it all - and excited too I hope. Just let the feelings flow through and do what you gotta do and you'll be fine. I love you so much!
What a metaphor a bridge is! The connection from one place, one state of mind, to another. The path that lets you crossover. Do you need a bridge this summer? What will it be? Summer itself? Time? People? A job? Your family? Walk on out over the water Joanna, just put on your walking shoes and hit the road. Open your eyes while you go. See what you're leaving and where you're going. Remember your way home!
Working out with you last night was a little bit of a revelation to me. I realized how weak I have allowed myself to become - through laziness partly, but also through age - and I'm going to try to reverse that trend however I can. At one point we were sitting there resting and I looked in your face and saw you as a man. For an instant I imagined what you'd look like at 25 or so. I saw the man to be in the face of the young man sitting in front of me. Being a man is more than building a strong body (although that's a good, healthy part). All the years of family love, all the years of school contribute to a young man's sense of his ability, his dreams and his confidence and courage to go after them. I can see that growing in your face Theo, and I love you.
Lots to keep in mind, lots to work toward, lots to look forward to, lots to dream about in the second half of senior year. College, career options, baseball, classes, prom, spring break (training), friends, a job, money, a drivers license - what else? I'm sure you can think of something that I'm missing. Work it, but have fun at the same time. These next eight months are so important, special, so full of change - make them fit you like a glove. Be yourself now more than ever. Look at the world through your own eyes and trust your instincts. I love you so much!
You know there's a book titled "Dear Theo"? It's a collection of letters written by Vincent Van Gogh to his brother. I read it years ago. Back in the days before telephones, computers, the internet, letter writing was the only way to communicate from afar. We're not very far apart you and I, but letters work to keep us in touch - at least my letters keep you in touch with my thoughts. Yesterday I was thinking about my own father and my relationship with him. The 3rd boy - the fourth child - I didn't get much of his attention. Dad was busy all week - working long days or out of town entirely and we were a pack of wolf cubs running around with GG trying to tame us. (To be continued...)
I love you Theo.
(contd...) I woke up this morning thinking about my dad - trying to remember the times we did things together or talked with each other or that he helped me with anything and it was a painfully short list. My dad worked all day, came home, read the paper and Time magazine, ate dinner, and watched the news and went to bed. I guess I learned from the best hunh? I've never been very good at conversation have you noticed? I guess I've been teaching that to you as well. Everybody says that girls talk but guys keep it inside - why is that? Lack of an example? Lack of experience? I think that as easy as you might think it would be, talking about yourself is hard and maybe we're just too lazy to try? I love you.
What does a man do in uncertain times? In times of decision making? In stressful times of unknown future that seem so important, so necessary yet so confusing? Where's the compass set on your own true North? Where's your personal GPS? Your mapquest with the road to your destination all outlined in purple? Well I've got an answer for you - it's right there inside of you. Look around at the options and then look in for the right fit. In the end, some choices may seem to be made for you, but that's in large part an illusion because you decide what your options are - what road you want to travel. Look inside and follow your heart!
Along about this time of year back in 1971, I was pondering my graduation and what on earth I was going to do after. There was no college counselor in my school. I didn't have a long time tutor who understood me. My father never asked me anything about myself, let alone what I thought I might like to study (I bet his dad never asked him either). My friends were equally clueless. So how do you make a decision in that environment? Still I was lucky in that my parents did think I should go to college and were willing to make it happen, but at 17 I didn't really know myself or what I was really interested in or what kind of work I'd like to do. So my dad signed me up for Clemson and said "Pre-veterinary medicine" and off I went. No one suggested I go as an "undeclared major." Too bad. It would have saved me a lot of grief. I love you so much!
The game goes on for another - what is it? Five or six months? Until June when you graduate from high school. Wow! Graduate! I walk around this house and I see picture after picture of you as the cutest little kid there ever was. What a beautiful smile! And so freely given that smile of yours. A genuine smile, not just a put on for the camera. I like to think that you had a happy childhood. That you feel you have grown up in a loving household. And that wherever you head off to next Fall you'll be ready academically and emotionally to succeed. I love you Theo.
Thinking of your game today I realized I'm down to the fingers of one hand in games you have left to pitch for BC. A little sad to think about - for me anyway - I've really enjoyed all your efforts on the ball field - even the occasional failures add to the story. Fortunately that story has had much more success and I can't tell you how proud I am of you. And not just for your baseball skills, but of you as a fine young man, filled with diverse talents and possibilities. Always stay open to new ideas, always do your best at whatever challenges come along. I love you so much.
Tuesday morning after Senior Skip Day - what a world? I don't remember such a day when I was a Senior a zillion years ago. I wasn't playing varsity ball either. I do remember being a combination of anxious and excited as the year wore on over college and where I would go and what I would study. Senior year is one of those big change years - not exactly boy-to-man, but some of that plus some home-and-away; watched-over and on-your-own. That kind of thing. It's an exciting time. Live it fully! Enjoy it immensely! Share it freely.
Decisions coming into focus in spite of a couple of remaining unknowns. A feeling of progress of "rightness" of the path is in the air (along with spring and baby grass and budding trees and an early sunbeam). I love this time of year - winter slowly closing the door behind him as misty color adorns the trees and the ground becomes even brighter green. Enjoy these days Theo. Think, decide, work, play and enjoy. Life is blooming all around you - breathe it in, remember how lucky you are (we all are) and live! I love you so much!
"Movin' on up!" Headin' on out! We celebrate the changes in our lives as we downshift and ease into the stream of whatever "next step" awaits us. There's a lot to celebrate - a lot of success - maybe some missed opportunities and second guess in the mix, but all-in-all a steady progress to this point. Not a point as in a pinnacle, but a point along a line, a path, the steady climb you've been on for almost 18 years now. I'm proud of the young man you're becoming and I'm excited by the future man you'll become as you live and celebrate many, many more "points" in the future. I love you so much!
I know you decided to take today off and rest after your shoulder injury yesterday, but I didn't want to miss the chance to tell you how proud I feel every time I stand next to you. I watch you and I'm filled with amazement at your abilities, your demeanor, the good looks you got from your mom, your potential to be so much, your tender ways you show your love. Go on! Get outta here! Love you.
Today is the last regular day of class for the seniors. Is it my last note ever? I can't imagine that it will be. Maybe the last daily one (the simple words are the hardest to spell sometimes). Sometimes it's the simple things that are the most special - the most beautiful - the most memorable. Like saying "thank you" and "please." Like taking your earbuds out and listening to the wind and the birds. Like giving a friend a ride, like sharing a good joke. Like singing a song in the bath, like snapping off a sharp curveball or connecting on a line drive. Or maybe saying "I love you so much!"