To William

Dear William.  Thank you for contacting me.  I’m honored that you’ve chosen me to offer some advice on how to live life in a good way.  Further, I’m impressed that you requested that I publish some of my thoughts on this blog, so that others might find them helpful. You indicate that someone referred you to me and told you that I could be a good person to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.  I hope I won’t disappoint either of you.

There’s a lot I want to share with you, William.  You’ve told me you’re nineteen years old, you’ve finished high school, and you’re not yet enrolled in any college or trade school.  You describe your situation as a “crossroads,” and I can relate to that in many ways.  My life has been full of them, and I haven’t always taken the better road.  More on that in letters to come.

Here are some opening truths about me.  I’ve lived a fairly good life, but it’s been far from perfect. I’m a survivor of war, divorce, cancer, and a few other challenges and crises that have come my way. I begin every day thanking my Higher Power for the gift of life itself.

I need you to hear this.  I’ve learned a lot more from my failures, mistakes and sins than from my successes and virtuous deeds.  But this learning has occurred only when I’ve been open to change and to admitting my errors and the hurt I’ve caused others.  It takes a lot of humility to honestly face our own faults, but I’ve found it’s the only way to live authentically. To be real.

Regarding that, I remember having to live as others expected me.  When I was your age, I was under pressure, as most young adults are, to conform to the society around me.  That was way back in the 1960’s, which seems like ancient history even to me.  I imagine it’s not possible for you to relate, but at least try to hear what I’m saying.  I was forced by peer and family pressure to wear “masks” and to pretend I was somebody I really wasn’t.  This is a common human predicament, and maybe a necessary passage on the journey to adulthood.  But I would encourage you, William, to get to know yourself and to be true to your own beliefs and values.

I need to go now.  The hour is getting late, and as a “senior adult,” I find I need more sleep.  But I remember when I was a young, vibrant man who could go non-stop for hours and hours.  Be grateful that you are still strong and full of vigor.  Take care of your body; it’s the only one you’ll have here on earth.  Be gentle with yourself and learn to appreciate what you’ve been given.  Keep your mind alert and growing, and avoid the toxic effects of alcohol and drugs as much as you can.  And find an inner peace that will sustain you when the storms come howling.

I look forward to hearing from you soon, William.  I’ll continue to offer some of my memories and reflections on the experiences, good and bad, that have shaped my 73 years on this planet.  Above all, you can count on me to be honest, sometimes brutally so, with the hope and prayer that my guidance will give you a rich and full life.