To my future 18 year old son,
It’s hard to believe that your sesame street-obsessed self with a huge love for morning cuddles, apple slices and animal voice imitation will turn 18 in many many years, but once the day is there I need you to know that we are ready for you to go and do this thing called life on your own. I am excited for you to become the person you want to be, to be wandering through life finding what makes life "the good life" for you.
It's a ride, and things will not always be easy, but with the idea in mind that you can turn your thoughts into things, have the persistence and humility to understand that you may not understand some things until you get through some of the tough patches, you will be ok. In fact, you will be great.
A friends of mine once said something embarrassingly easy: Life is easy. Just don't be a jerk. I leave that here for now and move on....
So here are a few easily digestible reflections from your young-ish mum on her years of growing up. You know where to find me - there is a lot more of where this came from. But for now, may this serve you in one way or the other.
I turned 30 this year and let me tell you... It’s been a long, short, amazing, tedious, joyful, wonderful and devastating journey so far. Yes, all of it!
All I am hoping is that you will read this one day and feel like that you've got this! And that it’s ok to not be perfect and that things ain’t need to be perfect - We’re not maximizing for perfection but wonder, purpose, care and belonging.
As you know, I started this journey as daughter of two dedicated parents filled with love to the moon and back. I was able to grow up in the most beautiful and the worst environment for a child, I still see my sisters and I joyfully screaming in the backyard during the annual easter egg hunt. I also see us screaming out of devastation when we became what is called 'children of divorced parents'. I see myself hugging life when I got my first job, earned my driver’s license and crushed steering my first road trip with your grandfather to southern Germany. I still see myself becoming an independent woman, failing in love miserably and leaving the country to find what would become me — the person who I am today! I see myself with a backpack and friends over bon fires in San Diego, over jam sessions in Russia, over horse back rides in the mountains of Mongolia and trying to get used to working life in China. I see myself on a small vespa in the middle of busy Saigon trying to live a dream that nobody understood. And with all this independence I see myself failing how wrong I was: How wrong I was about independence and what it means. How I had to realize that this doesn’t mean to set yourself up for success. How success does not mean what I thought it does. How I thought that all I need is a clean soul and 2.5 hrs of Yoga and/or CrossFit a day. As you know I was also wrong thinking that I could life without it :).
But here is what I am really trying to say:
I was wrong about how much I love family, a sense of belonging and a community that celebrates diversity.
And here is the crux: Through all of this I eventually realized that all of this is exactly what I needed - every victory and every fall. All of the ups and downs. All of the soul-filling encounters with people from all over the world and all of the struggles I had to undergo to push my dreams and realities forward. Son, regret is an unhealthy and selfish feeling. It means you cannot admit to yourself that you are not perfect and that you’re born to walk the way of life to do your best and eventually miss a step once in a while.
And this is what I am trying to say to you today, go see life and make it yours. Never regret, but always strive to be your best self: live it all to the fullest and follow your gut, take your life and roll with it, with all the good and all the crazy, be present and aware, be loving with others and respectful to yourself, be honest and mindful, be giving and also conscious of when to stop, be wild and sit calmly, be with yourself in solitude and learn how to do the same with someone else, trust the world but work hard to own it and above all: Work hard, but live and love harder.
And when in doubt, come home for a hot meal around the family table and get a good night’s rest.
I love you. To the moon and back.