Friday, September 5, 2014

The Thing I Want My Daughter Most To Learn

   There are a lot of things in my life that I want to do. I want to travel; I want to see the world. I want to read every book that I can get my grubby, book-greedy hands on. I want to beat this damn Final Fantasy game that I've been playing. I want to be published; I want to make a living off of writing. I want to always be able to pay my bills on time and support my family.
   All of these things are good goals as far as I am concerned. Some aren't as important as others; beating Final Fantasy is not going to make as much as an impact on my life as managing to make my living by writing, but every goal does not have to have a profound impact on the way that you live. We are allowed a few frivolous, in-the-moment achievements that mean nothing, yet make us momentarily happy and hurt no one. So long as those frivolous goals are not the only goals that we have, we are doing good. 
   And that leads me to the goal that I most want to instill on my daughter: being a good person. Being a good person can mean a lot of things, but I mean this in a way that is entirely doable. What I want for her (and myself) is to be a person that friends and family can trust. Be someone that the people that you care about can depend on. I don't mean be a saint; I know that is one label that surely I will never deserve. I have a temper, I cuss like a sailor, I'll hold a grudge until the world ends,  and I can be pushy and selfish. So certainly, I have no right to expect sainthood from anybody. But I do my best to help people, I do my best to listen, I do my best to not disrespect people just because they are different, I try to see that there is value in every person: we all have worth. I do my best to uphold the values that I think are most important in life, and I do my best to live by those values. That is what I most want my daughter to learn. 
   Because she can be the smartest scientist in the world, but if she has built her life at the expense of others, if she has built her career by stepping on the backs of others, then eventually, one day, everything she has worked for will fall to pieces and lie at her feet, a pile of rubble that means nothing. If I were the most well-read, famous, wealthiest author in the world, but along the way, had lost the trust and respect of every person who cared for me, what would I really have? Not a damn thing that matters, that's for sure.
   At the end of my life, if I'm looking back at a life that never sees a book published and contains only a blog written that no one reads, if I have been a person that people respect, someone my daughter can look up to and depend on, someone that a troubled friend can talk to about problems, if I still have the esteem and love of friends and family, then I haven't had a wasted life. The ultimate goal in life, in my opinion, is to do your best to make the world just a little bit better, even if just for the people who surround you. That's what I want my daughter to learn; that's the goal that I want most for my daughter to achieve in her lifetime, and to do that, we have to pay attention, not only to the goals that we set, but also to the way we go about achieving them - the journey, so to speak, not just the destination - and that's what I want my daughter to know, so that at the end of her life, she might leave behind a legacy not only of deeds, but of people whose lives she has made a positive impact in. That is a life well lived, and anyone can strive for that goal, from the richest of us to the poorest of us. All the goal takes is a little bit of heart: compassion and understanding. That's what I want my daughter most to learn. 

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