A Letter of Exemplary Understanding

12 Apr

This week, I’ve decided to attach a letter that a close friend of mine sent to his son in college. I am including it on my blog because I believe that this connection of both respect and love between a father and son is exemplary. This young man is getting ready to finish his last year of college and is apprehensive about getting to the end, indicating to his parents that he may not graduate. It will mean he has to go out into the real world and compete with thousands of other twenty somethings for a meaningful position in the workforce.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like as a young person today in the incredibly uncertain and murky waters of employment and life opportunities. This young man’s parents have spent a significant amount of their resources providing him with a first class education at a major institution known for its quality and hugely successful graduates. What if the kid fails? He is filled equally with as much excitement as with fear. I’m not sure we, as parents, quite understand this well.

The accompanying letter is a beautiful example of a father, who may or may not understand that in particular, but definitely knows and understands his son. Please note that the names and locations have been changed to respect the privacy of the parties involved.


Thank you for the kind words. I’m just being the dad and attempting to do things a little different from the way my dad did (recall: “Your mother and I have discussed it and we’ve decided that no matter what you and Timi do, we’ll be disappointed.” I expect to see that line in a movie someday that you write, direct, and produce. No pressure.).

In these circumstances, words are nice, action is better. In that regard, your mother and I are both of the belief that your trip to Florida should include time allocated, dedicated, and committed to school work. This should be a pinky swear commitment to doing work while there to release some of this pressure you have built up. It will be VERY easy to go there, eat local food, enjoy the sunshine by the pool, forget school, hide under the covers, and lie to yourself that things are OK.

As you will continue to hear from me, “I know the process.” On many occasions I took tons of work to San Diego in the summer or to Phoenix at Christmas and never cracked a notebook or a file open. Other times, when I was truly committed or, as we have often called it, acting with “clear intention” I worked hard and got lots done. In the former case, I came home beating myself up again in a sad pattern, and in the latter I came home exhilarated that I had been true to my goal.

Please, please make this trip the latter for you. Without belaboring the point (I know dad, I know…) but belaboring it, there will be other “vacation” trips to Miami. This is not one of them.

Yes, have fun. Spend time decompressing. But also decompress by getting some of this workload off your back. Again more belaboring, this is pressure you have created and only you, in the end, can release it. It would be easy for mom and me to say, “Don’t go.” But that’s not the right recommendation from our point of view. If you stayed home under those circumstances, you would mope around the frat house, sleep, get angry, engender lots of self pity, get nothing done, and be worse off than had you gone. So, we say, go…or stay, your call, but in either case get energized to get the monkey off your back. In my opinion, I think Miami, being tropical and all, is a great place to put that monkey down for good. ‘Nuff said.

Finally, please, please keep your commitment to calling your mother. She loves and misses you. She needs to hear your voice and know that you are OK. She will be standing by the phone, I’m sure. Oh, and after she loves you, you may hear a bit of her opinion about the current circumstances. I’m just sayin…

No new messages today for you. I’m on deadline and, frankly, all wisdom-ed out. Keep talking to us. Keep going to the Bahamas. Keep releasing the bad juju by shouting on your front lawn, “I can do this!”

All my love,



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