You can’t fix stupid.
This was the sound advice that my father offered to anyone who would listen. When I was younger, I didn’t understand the concept. When I became a teenager, I tried in vain to fix stupid. Mostly stupid boyfriends. Once I accepted the fact that I couldn’t, life got a lot easier. And now with the wisdom of 45 years… I don’t even consider the effort.
The trick is knowing when something (or someone) is stupid. This takes an open, honest perspective. It requires common sense and an understanding that situations as well as people have limits, boundaries that cannot be crossed. Once you figure this out for yourself (no one can do it for you) you’ll have to make a choice, and that’s the difficult part. When you realize it’s stupid, you’ll either walk away or you’ll try to fix it.
And that would be stupid.
June 16th, 1963 was Father’s Day. It was also the day the Borba family immigrated from Terceira, Azores to the United States of America.
We celebrated that event today. June 16th, 2013 – Father’s Day.
It truly has been a privilege to be a part of this family… and I was honored to host the celebration of this wonderful event. The family of 8 has grown tremendously in those 50 years… and although not all of them could attend, the 6 children that came across on that date were all here.
And the stories continue as I write this post.
All of them have since become US Citizens, owned business and raised their families with the same work ethic they learned in “the old country.” You will be the third generation of this family and a lot will be expected from you. Don’t ever take them for granted.
It’s not your parents’ responsibility to provide you with self-esteem. This is one of the biggest misconceptions of my generation. Too many parents have ruined children with this simple mis-understanding. A parent cannot GIVE a child self-esteem. A child has to develop that sense on his own. What happens all too often, even with the best of intentions, parents give a sense of entitlement instead and that’s not good for anyone.
Good parents allow a child to develop his own self-esteem. (Notice the word self? It’s there for a reason. You have to do it/have it yourself.) It cannot be given. Good parents put their children in self-esteem building activities and situations that provide the opportunity for failure. Yes, failure. That’s where we learn to do better, be better and to make better choices. We have to lose once in a while to learn how to win.
Parents do not want to see their children fail. Ever. It’s painful. No one wants failure, but we all need it. At least we need the risk. We need to have an alternative outcome. We need to have a choice. When everything is handed to a child they have no chance to develop their own sense of confidence that is required to live, as adults in this big old world. Mommy and Daddy are not going to hold your hand forever and tell you how wonderful you are. (In the youth-sports world, we call this behavior “blowing smoke of their ass.” Please pardon the expression, but it’s direct and accurate. It ruins athletes, and it ruins human beings.
So go out there and get it yourself. It’s might be painful but you’ll survive. We all have so far. I’ll make sure your parents provide you with all the tools necessary for success, but remember, you’re going to fail once in a while, and that’s ok. I promise that you’ll appreciate life a lot more by learning the hard way. And when you learn the hard way a few times, life becomes easy.
We have an ethical and moral obligation to care for the poor. I firmly believe it is the purpose for our existence and our response to the generous love God offers to us. This is how we thank him. This is how we love.
There are many ways to be poor. We tend to think of poor as only meaning a lack of financial means, but it is so much more. People can be poor in health, poor in spirit, poor in knowledge, poor in experience and much, much more. Not having enough money is only one way to be poor… and not even the worst.
And to broaden the spectrum even further, we’re not just talking about people. Our environment can be poor, our animals can be poor, our relationships can be poor…
Are you starting to get the idea?
We have a lot of work to do.
God wants us to feed the poor. And (you guessed it) that doesn’t just mean food. People are fed in a variety of ways but the most significant of these is through the experience of love. Love is a verb. You have to DO IT. It’s not a warm fuzzy feeling (although that can be a lovely side effect.) It’s what we do for others that really matters. It matters to them and it matters to us.
Look around you and identify the poor in your life. You don’t have to travel to a third world country. The poor my be sitting across from you at the table. The poor can be found in our families, in our schools, our places of work, our neighborhoods and in our homes.
Serve with love. Sometimes it can be as simple as a smile. Love comes in many forms. Don’t underestimate your ability. Where you fall short, God will fill in the gap.
And don’t forget, sometimes the most difficult form of service is allowing someone to love you. That’s right. You might be poor too. Don’t deny someone the chance to serve and offer love. You never know when you’ll get the opportunity again.
College isn’t for every one. If it’s not for you, find some other source of education and stick with it. I.e. trade school or apprenticeship. Even if it takes a very, very long time, get an education.
You’re going to need it.
Here are a few things that make it a little easier. These are things I wish I’d known at your age.
- Do it while you’re young. (It’s easier to process and learn new ideas.)
- Do it while you’re single. (Supporting a family makes it difficult to go to school.)
- Do it consistently. (You’re more likely to finish if you keep going. Don’t quit with hopes to return.)
I’ve already talked about the importance of doing it on someone else’s nickel (if possible.) But I want to make sure that you understand that NONE OF THESE things disqualifies you from eligibility. If you’re already old, broke, married with 8 kids and you quit school a long time ago, it’s NEVER TOO LATE to return. It’s just a little more difficult, but not impossible. It’s never too late to start over, go back or begin. Never. Ever.
Just do it.
I’ve never understood the concept of being “bored.” Even when I was a kid, there was ALWAYS something to do. If the task or activity we were involved in got tiresome, we moved on to the next thing. (Unless, of course the task was necessary, then we saw it through to completion.) No one had to tell us this concept. It’s just what we did.
We had imagination and we used it a lot.
I once had a teacher tell me that people who say they are bored are really saying they are lazy. This made perfect sense to me. People really aren’t bored, they are boring.
And that’s a choice.
Make a better choice. Don’t be boring.
No matter what you do in life, add a little spice. Go the extra mile. Kick it up a notch and increase the value of your time. Use your imagination and be creative whether it’s at work or at play. Dream, explore and most of all just do the things that you enjoy. Find lots of options so you always have choices. If you find you have nothing to do, you’re not paying attention to the world around you. There is always something to keep us occupied. You might just find a new adventure if you open yourself up to the opportunity.
I’ve enjoyed the privilege of hanging around some friends and family who are already grandparents and all of them have shared their wisdom. The one common thread is the overwhelming sense of joy they get from the relationship with their grandchildren. Almost all of them say they love their kids, but the love for their grandchildren is on a whole other level. My brother Curtis once said, “If I knew the grand-kids were going to be this much fun, I would have had them first!”
One thing I’ve learned is that a grandparent’s promise to a grandchild is never broken. Ever. It just doesn’t happen. It’s almost a natural law of the universe. That whole “stick a thousand needles in my eye” isn’t even necessary. Grandparents ALWAYS keep their promises.
From my own experience, I’ve learned that grandparents rarely say, “we’ll see” or “maybe.” Their responses are much more definitive and almost always in the positive. I think this is one of the privileges that comes with the title and role. Grandparents just make things happen. They just do.
So we’ll take this one on together… and I’m looking forward to the commitment and challenge.