May 17th, 2011 Archive

Let Go and Move

May 17th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle

My boys Chandler and Stefan are growing up so fast. Chandler is 14 while Stefan is five. I know they are still several years away from their twenties, but after reading James Gladwin’s An Open Letter to Those in Their Twenties and Thirties over at Healthy Wealthy nWise, I couldn’t help but think of my two boys. They’re still my boys, but they’re quickly growing into young men who make their own decisions and make their own marks in this world.

You see, James’ letter may be addressed to the twenty- and thirty- somethings, but I’m sure his message also resonates with people older than that too. I’m sure anybody it also strikes some notes with anybody who has children learning about maturity, responsibility, and independence.

The good news for today’s youth, as James puts it, is that they “have been given so much. It’s probably been the same for every generation, but maybe the stakes are higher, more exciting, more rewarding, more exhilarating and – yes – more scary,” My boys probably don’t feel that fear much (at least not yet), but Liz and I are probably scared enough for the both of them right now.

James’ letter isn’t about fear and the differences between our era and theirs though – his letter is about attitude. James talks about how to approach life, and I believe his advice holds true whether you’re in your twenties, your fifties, or your teens. His first piece of advice:

“Become interested in moving away from meeting expectations. Question the degree to which you are living the life you love, or one that has been designed for you by (well meaning) parents, or your social group.”

This is advice Liz and I give, but when I think about Chandler and Stefan, this same advice scares me a little. I want my boys to do what makes them happy. At the same time, they’re still my boys, and I will always want to protect them and help them in whatever way I can.

The idea that you have to let your children make their own mistakes comes to mind. To live the life you love, you follow your own plan, not one by somebody else. My boys know this already, or at least I hope so. Liz and I know this too, but actually following it and letting go of our boys might prove a bit more difficult.

For the twenty- and thirty- somethings reading this post, I know this piece of advice isn’t very easy to follow either. Your family and friends play a large part in molding you into who you are now, but they don’t define everything. At some point, you have to figure out the difference between the person your parents, teachers, and friends expect you to be, and the person you want to be. It’s not easy, and being a father to two fast-growing boys, I don’t expect your parents to make this easy either.

James shares another, related piece of advice:

“Become interested in moving away from pleasing others. So often that’s how we defined ourselves, pleasing parents, teachers, employers and soon, rather than defining ourselves by what we feel, in our heart’s core, to be authentic.”

It’s natural for us to try and please our parents, teachers, and other authority figures – it’s almost ingrained in us. Trying to please others isn’t in itself a bad thing, but it has a tendency of getting in the way of living your own life. Again, this is about figuring out who you are, and not letting others define that for you.

James also shares with this piece of advice:

“Above all, why not become interested in moving away from ’shoulds’ ‘oughts’ and ‘musts’.”

I don’t think this really needs much explanation – I believe that being true to yourself and pursuing what you love ensures that you will end up living without regrets.

He closes with this idea, explaining how moving away from these, and other things, works:

“When you start ‘moving away’ you are – using the analogy of the river – moving away from the river bank, the shallows, the rocks, into the faster, deeper water, which can carry you further and faster to where you want to go.”

I hope, someday, my boys find themselves further than they ever dreamed they could get.

I also hope, wherever they find themselves, they always find their way back home.

Ric


Image by: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net