It's difficult as a parent to not want to offer up a million pieces of last-ditch-effort advice as our kids go off to college, at least it was for me. Here is a portion of the letter that I wrote to Jacob as he left for State today:
Okay, so here goes, my attempt to cram useful advice in one last time – are you ready? Here goes. Don’t be a cliché. What do I mean by that? I mean, a penny saved is not enough. Save some dimes and quarters and a few bills, too. Always be saving and working toward a goal. Love is near-sighted. Keep your loved ones close – not only physically, but emotionally. Don’t build walls out of fear. Silence is fool’s gold if it means you left heartfelt things unsaid. Never pass up an opportunity to say, “I love you,” or “I’m sorry.” You only live for a really long time so make decisions you’ll be proud of. Money can’t buy anything that truly matters in this world. The early bird might have gotten a big fat crunchy grasshopper if he had been more patient and not so impulsive. Sometimes it pays to wait. If at first you don’t succeed, get more people involved. Success isn’t achieved in isolation. Keep your friends close and buy your enemies a cup of coffee. We can learn a lot from people we disagree with. Take the road not travelled by. Forge a path that leads where you want it to go. Don’t rock the boat unless you know everyone in it can swim. Sometimes we need to stop playing it safe and just get wet. Don’t judge a book (or people) unless you’ve read it and thought about it and considered its purpose. If the shoe fits, it still might be ugly. Find your own style. The glass is rarely only half filled anyway. Life is overflowing with blessings if you take time to look. Stop to smell the roses and the fresh cut lawn, the ocean, the mountain air – be present in the moment and savor where you are. A picture is worth a thousand words, but that doesn’t mean they are complimentary ones (read that: be careful what you post on the internet!) A bird in the hand should be released. Don’t cage anything that is meant to be free. And we are all meant to be free. An apple a day gets old even to doctors. Don’t get stuck in a rut – be adventurous!! Absence makes you jobless. Show up every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Hell hath no fury like a grandmother who didn’t get a thank-you note. Express your gratitude for all things to all people. The grass is always greener when you pay a lot for fertilizer and lawn care, but it’s still just grass. Spend your money on things that are truly worthwhile. Make hay if you’re a farmer, make music if you play an instrument, make pasta if you’re a chef. Figure out what your talents and passions are and do that for a living. Don’t put off to tomorrow anything you can afford to do today. You might never get the chance again. If you love something, don’t let it go. Fight for it – every day. When the cat’s away, the dog will nap. Take a break every now and then. Rejuvenate! A man is only as good as his effort. People will forget what you said, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. Diamonds should come from a girl’s best friend. To be a great husband, you have to be a great friend. The best things in life are different for everyone. Don’t let others tell you what should be important to you. When life hands you lemons – learn to juggle. Do unexpected things just to make people smile. Don’t count your chickens, or your awards, or your degrees or your belongings or money. It doesn’t matter how much you have, it matters how much you do with what you have. Failure is not only an option it’s an opportunity to learn. Allow mistakes to shape and refine your choices and actions – they will bring you closer to success. If something’s too good to be true, don’t be the one selling it. Insist on quality – in what you buy and what you make and do. A watched pot never overflows or scalds or curdles. Focus your attention on the task at hand. It’s always darkest in the woods at night without a flashlight. Be prepared. Laughter is the best medicine unless you broke a rib. Be appropriate for the situation. There’s no place like Rome. Or Paris. Or Japan, or Montana or Dubuque. Travel every chance you get. Finally, it isn’t about the destination, nor is it about the journey. It’s about how you react to the puke in the backseat. Life is what you make of it and how you react to the things that happen to you. React with kindness, a generous spirit and a heart full of gratitude.