A Day for Dads

Happy Father’s Day to my favorite man and number 1 fan! For most of life it is the parents that take pride in their children. The dance recitals, soccer games, school assemblies, and other successes–the parents are the ones who stand off to the side and beam. As children, we stand on stage and search for you–squinting into the bright lights as we scan through the crowd.

One thing that will never change, dad, is that I will always look for your face. I will always wave and smile at you, both as an acknowledgement that you got me to wherever I am and to celebrate my victories with you. But as I have gotten older, one thing has changed. And that is that I am now old enough to be proud of you. For the goals you have accomplished, for the ways you have changed and grown.

Other than what it means to be an excellent father and husband (not to mention a killer Santa Claus), I have learned many important lessons from my dad.

To name a few:

  • Always merge lanes in front of trucks because they can’t accelerate as quickly (thanks, you expert commuter).
  • Keep a window-breaker in your car at all times in case you find yourself underwater. And wait until the car is completely submerged to open the door.
  • Always work hard, but never settle.
  • “It is what it is”
  • Family is of the utmost importance.
  • “You’ve just got to commit”. This was in reference to how you must not hesitate when trying to get on the metro in Paris, but I’ve applied it to other areas of life as well. Like when you see an opportunity–an open door, so to speak–you have to go for it. Otherwise the door will close and you will either miss your train or get your limbs stuck.
TIME put together a very touching piece of letters from fathers to their daughters and Brain Pickings has a great collection of famous letters of fatherly advice.

 

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A letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his 11 year old daughter at camp.

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love

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Ronald Reagan to his son, Mike.

There is an old law of physics that you can only get out of a thing as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out. Sure, there will be moments when you will see someone or think back to an earlier time and you will be challenged to see if you can still make the grade, but let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn’t take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music.

P.S. You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day.

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Jackson Pollock’s dad, LeRoy, to his son:

The secret of success is concentrating interest in life, interest in sports and good times, interest in your studies, interest in your fellow students, interest in the small things of nature, insects, birds, flowers, leaves, etc. In other words to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life. I do not think a young fellow should be too serious, he should be full of the Dickens some times to create a balance.

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John Steinbeck to his son Thom when he told his father he had fallen in love.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

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Jawaharlal Nehru to his 10 year old daughter, Indira Gandhi.

Fine buildings, fine pictures and books and everything that is beautiful are certainly signs of civilization. But an even better sign is a fine man who is unselfish and works with others for the good of all. To work together is better than to work singly, and to work together for the common good is best of all.

 

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I love you always.

 

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