Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let's Get Together

Dear Joseph,

I really miss not seeing you. You are growing and learning so fast that when I do get to see you it is as if you are another person. I miss your smiles and laughing, and I miss your hugs. So, I am going to fly into Dayton on Friday, January16th. I will rent a car and drive to Cincinnati and visit with you and Mom and Dad for a few days. I will have to leave on Monday, so think about what you would like to do while I am there.

I hope to see you in a few weeks.

Papa loves you

Friday, December 12, 2008

Corner Pocket
Dear Joseph,

I was thinking to day how music has always been a big part of my life. I have learned to play all the instruments and was once pretty good on the trumpet. In fact, I played at the wedding of Aunt Tammy and Uncle Ben Weiss. By now, I am guessing that you know that there are lots of kinds of music.

There are slow love songs and waltzes and up beat jitter bugs. I taught your mom and Aunt Tammy to jitter bug dance when they were teenagers, and I have had many really wonderful times dancing with them. That kind of music is what we call swing music, and I think it has the best beat in the world. It really speaks to my heart, and it was always my favorite music to play.

Ever since you were able to stand up you would begin to move in a certain way when ever you heard music. I wonder if you will come to like it as much as I have. Perhaps one day soon Mom will go to U Tube and put on THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA - CORNER POCKET. I'd love to see how you take to that. Hopefully, there will be times for us to listen to music together or go to hear live music like I used to do with your Mom.

Just remember 2 things: 1, It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing, and 2:

Papa loves you

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Learn From Nature

Dear Joseph,

It is getting cold outside, and we will soon be seeing snow on the ground. When I was a little guy, I used to wonder what happened to all the animals during winter? Where did they sleep? How did they stay warm? Where did they get their food? Actually, I worried about them. After all, some of the squirrels and birds were born just a few months earlier. How could they know what to do?
A lot of young animals learn just by watching their parents and imitating what they do. You probably do a lot of that yourself. Like we humans, the parents will scold the little ones when they do something dangerous or wrong. They do not scold them to be mean, they do it so that the little ones will learn things that will keep them safe and warm as winter comes.

I hope you spend some of your time watching all this and the other things nature has to teach. Spending time watching clouds and how the weather changes; watching how the squirrels mix work and play; seeing how the trees and flowers bloom in spring and fade in winter; all these will teach you a lot about life and how to stay safe. Watching the animals can teach us a sense of being responsible for taking care of ourselves so that we don't have to rely on others. Watching the parents gathering food and feeding their little ones teaches us to nurture one another and to help those who need our help.

I believe that fast cars, houses with closed windows and heat and air conditioners, staying inside too much and a lot of other things about the way we live has separated us too much from Mother Nature. She has a lot to teach us. Watching her and the animals and the plants can open up a world of rich beauty and knowledge that you cannot learn in school.

I hope life will allow us the opportunity to sit in a field and just watch together. I hope there will be time enough for us to sit in a boat or a kayak and feel the power of the water as we bob up and down (I will write more about this another time). I hope that we will have time to watch the clouds together and see how many pictures we can spot up in the sky. We shall see.

Papa loves you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Dear Joseph,

I am sorry I haven't written lately. I have been concerned with work. I know, I am retired, but I would like to be useful and wouldn't mind earning a bit of money. Being 67 years old and away from medicine for a while, it is hard for me to find something for which I am comfortable and can do well.

Work is an interesting thing, even for you at such a young age. What it means for you now is that Dad is often away, and I know how you and Mom miss him. Why does he do that? Because he loves you and is willing to work hard to provide you with the important things in life. That's why most dad's and mom's work, for the sake of their children and themselves. He also does it out of self respect. He wants to take care of the things in his life because he feels that is his responsibility.

Interestlingly, half of the people in our country are unhappy at work. Some don't think they are paid enough and some don't like their bosses or coworkers. Since you (like myself) will spend most of your adult life at work, it is most important that you find work that you love. Sure, you need to get a fair salary and decent treatment, but it is still the work that matters.

For me, I used several things to decide on what I wanted to be when I grew up. First, I had to be interested in what I was doing it. There is nothing wrong with digging ditches for a living...if digging ditches is satisfying work for you. Next, I wanted to do work that mattered. Although all work matters, my work had to matter to me. If I would have become a car salesman and made a million dollars from it, it would not have felt as if I had done something that mattered, something that mattered to me and the rest of the world.

It is also important to be proud of what you do. Earning a lot of money by dishonest means is, in my judgment, shaming and damaging to the soul. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it the best you can. If you are going to be a dish washer, be a good dish washer and earn your money. And don't be ashamed of what ever you do, even if others judge it to be a lowly job. All work is good work.

Men in our society generally identify themselves by the work they do. They will meet you and say, "I am in sales," or some such thing. To them selves, they are salesmen. I am a doctor, but a doctor is not who I am. Who I happen to be, my values and beliefs, would be the same if I was a carpenter. The same is true for you, Joseph. First learn who you are, what your soul needs and what your vision for yourself in this world will be. That is and will always be who you are. Then seek work that fulfills that vision, and be proud of yourself for doing so.

Papa loves you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let's Talk About It

Dear Joseph,

It is September of 2008, and you are beginning to say your first words. Half the time only you know what you are trying to say, but that will get better rather quickly. In fact, you will probably be making sentences by the end of the year. So, why does Papa take time to talk with you about this?

As you get older, much of your success, much of how the world perceives you and much of your ability to get things done will depend on your ability to express yourself clearly. When a man can explain things in a way that others can easily understand, he will have more success and others will seek him out for help. In addition, he will be a natural teacher.Too many people say stuff without realizing how ambiguous they are being and how much conflict that can cause. So, how do you become a good communicator? How do you learn to put the right words together in order to make yourself easily understandable to others?

First, you listen in school and learn basic grammar. Most complex problems start when someone screws up something basic. Learn grammar. Then practice. Explain in clear and simple terms why Dad should let you have the car on Saturday evenings. Be precise when you point out to Mom the futility of wasting time to make a bed that you will be sleeping in again in just a few hours.

Seriously, though, read, read, read. Read fiction and see how authors hold you spell bound and draw you into their stories. Read political columns to see how those writers use words and phrases to convince you that their point of view is correct. And, all this time, question what others write. Something may be written well but be totally wrong. That requires judgment on your part and that is a topic for another letter.

Papa loves you (and that's why he writes this stuff)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hail to the Mouse

Dear Joseph,

You just went with the family to Disney World in Florida to celebrate Grandma Linda's birthday. I know you don't remember the trip because you were 14 months old at the time. You were a handful and exhausted all of us.

Four generations of the family were there including Bubbie, your mom and dad, Aunt Tammy, Uncle Ben Weise (some day someone will explain why that is funny), Grandma Linda, Papa, Aunt Robin and Uncle Henry. We all flew there and back on airplanes.

As you will know by time you can read this, Disney is a fantastic place with all sorts of rides. You, however, went on no rides but, rather, entertained yourself by running through all the water spouts and climbing on everything you could find. The only time you were quiet (for ten whole minutes) was when I was holding you and you were listening and watching the Japanese drummers. Seems like you like music and rhythms of all kinds.

Although you don't remember the trip, the rest of us do. It was important to us because we all could get together and because you were there. I am sure mom and dad will have pictures to show you. My hope is that I can be around to do some of these things with you when you are at an age at which you can enjoy them...and remember them. That's what families do.

Papa loves you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Gift

Dear Joseph,

Papa has a gift for you. I brought it home from my trip up north where I was camping and kayaking. It is not a gift like a toy, so I will give it to you when you are old enough to understand its meaning. If I am not able to give it to you when that time comes, it will be among my things in an envelope labeled a stone for Joseph. Why a stone?

I an active in a men's group which has adopted many Native American practices. The Indians who originally inhabited this country held sweat lodges (more on this another time) in which water is poured on hot rocks to produce steam. Because the stones/rocks are so old, they/we refer to them as the ancient ones or grandfathers.

When a man travels away from home he sometimes collects a stone from the beaches or water of that area to bring back as a gift. A Native American told me that stones know how to get you to pick them up, carry them to where they want to be and, when they tire of you, make you put them in a new place.

I gathered this stone specifically for you. It comes from the cold waters of Lake Superior or, as the Native Americans named her, Gitchee Gumee. Within the stone is the energy of its place of origin and is a connection between its holder and the place from which it comes. Giving it to you makes it a connection between you and me.

You may keep the stone as long as you like, toss it somewhere or pass it on to someone you wish to have it. I only ask that what ever you do with it that you do so with intention. I hope we will have time to talk about this more one day.

Papa loves you

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dear Joseph,

Tomorrow, Papa will leave on a ten day trip to teach kayaking, to paddle and to do some camping. sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, it is, but it also is somewhat dangerous, and I'd like to talk to you about that.

We guys like sports and all sorts of out door activities. Generally, sports fall into two categories. In the first are sports in which we keep score and judge our success by whether or not we win. Success, therefore, is achieved by beating someone or some other team. This doesn't tell us much about ourselves since we can play poorly and still win if the other side really stinks. But there is the other type of sport, the one that is inherently risky while offering a different reward.

Kayaking, climbing and skiing are such activities. They are somewhat dangerous and can be done with no one else around, at least no competitor. Success here is achieved merely by doing it. Go out in a kayak into a 6 foot surf, have a good and safe time, and you've won without defeating another person. You've won by your wits and skills, and you have to be good enough to beat the elements. The victory is not in the score ( there is none) but, rather, in the self satisfaction of knowing what you can do and having the courage to go out and do it. The only "competitor" is yourself and the elements.

This is the kind of thing I enjoy in life. Marathon running was like that for me. It was me and the clock. I had no ambition to beat anyone else, I was never at that level anyway. I wanted to be able to train and complete the 26.2 mile run, and I did it at an 8 minute/mile pace.

On the other hand, I loved Judo and taught it for years. Once in a while, I would enter matches where the whole idea was to win over my opponent. But, even there, my real challenge was waiting as I stood before a bigger and equally skilled man and going inside myself. My challenge was to remain absolutely calm as I stepped onto the mat, sometimes before large audiences, and took hold of the other man's Gi. Weaker and smaller, I had to remain fully relaxed and calm so that when the other guy made that very slight off balance move, I was able to act out of reflex, with no thought, and with lightening speed, and throw him to the ground.

I hope I get to see what things you like to do, and I hope you find the activities that satisfy your inner callings. I hope you choose what gives you satisfaction and fits with who you are. If you want to play baseball fine, but it isn't for everyone, and you are not everyone. You are Joseph, and I love you.

Papa loves you.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Another Step
Dear Joseph,
This week, your mom sent us a video clip of you WALKING. I mean, really walking. All of a sudden (so it seemed), the little baby we had come to love was standing on his own two feet and...well, walking.

As you read this now, you may wonder why in the world I find this to be so wonderful. After all, by time you read this you will be...well, reading and, of course, much older. Well, I will try to explain why Papa and others are so happy about your first steps.

Sure, we all went through these stages, but that was years, even decades, ago. Now, having passed most of the milestones of life, I still take delight in seeing you go through them. Your very presence makes me happy. To see you accomplish something new amazes me. You see, Joseph, when you are young it seems as if time passes slowly. Very soon you will want to be older, like the big kids. Very soon you will enter a stage of life where you will give your age in years and months because you will want to be sure people don't think you are one day younger than you are.

During our youth we all want to be older. We believe it is better and, in some cases, it really is. When you are 15 you will want to be older so you can drive. It is normal, and we all go through that time of life. It won't be so long after that that you will find yourself actually being older, in your prime of life. Then, in a blink of an eye (so it seems), we are older, and time seems to pass much more quickly. At that time, many years from now, you will wish you had the body of a younger person along with the agility and strength that body held.

So now, right now, when you are still young, I want you to savor every moment of every day. Like me, I want you to take great joy in each new your first steps. Then, I hope, you will store those moments in your mind so that when the day comes, a very long time from now, when time passes quickly, you will have wonderful memories of these days. Even better, I hope you will have a grand child like yourself who will delight you with his or her new accomplishments.

Papa loves you.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dear Joseph,
You may just think that family is Mom and Dad. While that is true, but it is not the entire story. Don't forget that there is Grandma Sharon, Grandpa Michael, Grandma Linda, Great Grandma Miriam, Aunt Tammy, Uncle Ben, Uncle David, etc., etc.. The list is getting big, isn't it?

I point this out to you because, as you grow and learn, you will belong to many groups. Perhaps you will be on a team. You certainly will be part of a school class. You may also be part of one or more clubs, and so on. These will be groups of people that share a common goal or interest, and they will be a great source of support as you pursue those goals. As long as you pay your dues, attend meetings and adhere to the bylaws, you will be allowed to remain a member of each group. With family, it is a little different.

Family is forever. There is no need to sign up, and meetings are held when ever. What ever your dreams and goals may be, family is there to support, give advise, scold and even drive you a little nuts. Thing is, there are no dues and few bylaws, and you remain a member even if you break the rules. Now, here is the really neat part: it is a life membership and, no matter how you might screw up (and you will), family will love you and come to your questions asked.

Right now, you are beginning to see what I mean. As I type this, Grandma Linda and honorary Grandma Robin are in your city. Uncle Omari, Auntie Tammy, Uncle Ben and myself will be coming in another day or two. Why? Because it is your birthday, your very first one; and the family gathers on such occasions to celebrate with one another.

To be sure, there will be times when you will want to quit or resign from the crazies in your family. Happens all the time. Thing is, Joseph, we don't accept resignations. Try as you may to quit, we will not stop caring about you and loving you. So, take the bad with the good, and enjoy your first chocolate cake this weekend.

Happy first birthday. I love you.


Friday, May 23, 2008

And So It Goes
Dear Joseph,
It is just a few days until your first birthday, and the entire family is excited and looking forward to gathering at your house to celebrate. It is supposed to be a very happy time, and it is. We just learned, however, that Grandpa Michael's cousin just died, and that makes us sad.

By time you are able to understand this, you will have some idea of the cycle of life and the fact that life is full of happiness and sadness. But, Joseph, there are different kinds of sadness. I will try to explain.

If a very young person is accidentally killed, it is a tragedy, and the sadness is mixed with bewilderment and even bitterness. A young person has been robbed of his or her life, and we are unable to understand why such things happen.

In the case of Grandpa's cousin, on the other hand, we have what I will call a more understandable death. The man, who you will not remember, was a fine person and a very nice individual. I liked him and don't know anyone who didn't. But he had had lots of illnesses and had lived a fairly long life. He got an infection in his lungs and never recovered. His loss saddens us all yet, at the same time, we can accept this loss as a part of life.

I have no idea when I will leave this life. I don't know if I will be here when you can read and understand this. I hope so. But, if I am gone as you read this, know that I had a long and most wonderful life. Perhaps Mom (my daughter) will show you pictures of me and tell you stories about me. I would like that, and it makes me feel good to think I will be remembered. Know, as well, that part of my greatest joy in life has been having you as my grandson and that I have derived a deep inner joy from your presence. You are a blessing in my life.

Be well,

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How you were named.

Dear Joseph,

Our names are important to us. It is who we are and what others call us. When we hear our name called we turn without thought to see who has called to us. Naming a baby is a big event. In some cultures an animal name is assigned by a medicine man or elder and that name becomes that person's totem animal. It is believed that the person will have all the characteristics of that animal. We, on the other hand, assign a name to honor a person who is no longer with us. Who, then, is the Joseph for who you have been named?

If he were alive, Joseph Kahn would be your great grandfather. He was the husband of your great grandmother, Miriam. Now, you know grandma Linda. Well, she is the daughter of Joseph and Miriam. Linda is also my wife. So, if you can follow all of this, Joseph Kahn was my father in law. More important than all this is the fact that he was a wonderful man.

Joseph Kahn was intelligent and wise. He knew how to be a good father. In addition, he was scholarly and a wonderful teacher. He could not complete college because of financial reasons, but that didn't stop him from a life time of learning. He and grandma Linda both enjoyed history, especially about the civil war. I learned a lot from listening to the two of them talk.

The man for who you are named was, above all, honest and a man of integrity. He was fair. He was kind, and he was stern when he needed to be. He was, as we say, a man among men. Those of us who knew him miss him a great deal. You, Joseph, have been named after this great man who died shortly before you were born.

In you, I already see a certain good natured smile and a calmness (when your diaper is dry and your tummy full) that tells me that you have been named well. I think that Papa Joe is pleased and honored with knowing that you carry his name.

Papa loves you.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It Was So Wonderful To See You

Dear Joseph,

It was wonderful seeing and being with you this past weekend. I had forgotten how exhausting it can be to take care of someone your age. It seems like it was another lifetime that I was changing your Mom's diapers and trying to get little spoonfuls of stuff into her mouth. I must tell you that, in many ways, you are a lot like she was at your age.

You have that same happy disposition (except when you are hungry, wet, over tired or wanting to be picked up) and radiant smile. I will be watching anxiously to see how your personality evolves and what interests you develop.

No big philosophical lessons or musings today. Just this note to tell you I enjoyed being with you and look forward to your visit here next month.

Papa loves you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Not just a 4-letter word

Dear Joseph,

You are growing up in a home where you see mom and dad go off to work every morning as I watched my father go to work every morning. This is a good thing. Sure, it means that mom and dad are earning money so that you all have a nice house and good food to eat. But there is more to all of this than meets the eye.

As did I, you will learn to have a work ethic. That is, you will come to understand that each of us is responsible for taking care of our needs. Since many of our needs require money, this means working for a living. Now, for many, working is not a pleasant thing. In fact, most men do not like their jobs and hate going to work. It is so bad for some of them that they get sick Sunday nights when they know that the weekend is ending and they need to get up in the morning to go to their jobs. This is not because work is a distasteful thing. They feel this way because they are doing the wrong work.

Remember last time how I talked to you about that drummer each of us marches to? I was referring to that little voice inside that tells us what is wrong and what is right for us to do. That voice comes from deep within, from our essence, and is referred to as our soul. Our soul is that part of us that knows best what we want, what we need and what we need to do; and what we need to do is referred to as our calling or our calling in life.

Papa believes that we are all here for a reason. We are who we are, we are born when we are born and we are in a place all for a reason. Our really big job in life is to find out what that reason is, to be aware of what we are meant to do while on this earth. Our job is to find and follow our callings.

It takes a while to hear that little voice and to know just what our callings are, but there are many clues given to us if we will just pay attention. For instance, what is fun for you to do? I know, at first it is playing and being with friends. But, even then, you will start to notice that you all play in different ways and like different games. Some kids are athletic, some like to draw while others sit and think a lot or stare at pretty scenes. These are all clues.

Unfortunately, when you get to school you will all be required to act somewhat alike and do similar things. There will be subjects in school and assignments that you will simply not like at all. That is fine. You will still have to do them, but in doing so you will have learned something about yourself, and that will be a clue to at least what your calling is not.

This may seem confusing and hard, but it will make more and more sense as you grow, learn and mature. It is important, Joseph, that you not get caught up in making money, getting promoted and acquiring a lot of material things just for the sake of fulfilling an image of what others think is a successful person. If it does not fulfill you on the inside and give you a sense of peace and knowledge that you are doing what you are meant to do, it is not worth the gold it provides.

We cannot deny our callings, and it is important to spend quiet time with yourself. That can be in the form of meditation, sitting in your room and just letting your mind wander or walking among nature while practicing awareness of the world around you. Eventually, if you are open and true to yourself, you will be aware of the voice within. You won't hear it with your ears, but you will sense it in your heart.

Finally, when this voice speaks to you, it will tell you something about your calling in life. Joseph, you may not understand or like what it is telling you, but if you spend time with it the message it has for you will resonate with your soul. Then, you will know what you are meant to do.

Scared? Don't be. You already understand more than most. Most men don't pay attention to what I've said. They refuse to hear the voices calling to their souls because they want money more than they want fulfillment. These men, Joseph, pay an awful price when they become old. They realize, only then, that they have money and no happiness. More than anything in this world, I want to see you realize your full potential, and I know that can only be done if you follow the calling of your soul. I bless you on this most sacred journey of life.

I love you, Joseph

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Drummer Within
Dear Joseph,

If you haven't already, you will hear an expression that people use to describe a person who acts differently than they do. They say that he marches to a different drummer, one that only he can hear. I want to tell you what this means and how important it is.

Although your name is Joseph, that is just a name your mom and dad gave you so we would know what to call you and you would know when we are talking to you. But, who is Joseph? Is he the boy or young man we see? Yes. Is he white? Yes. In fact, you are a lot of things that we can label. Maybe you will play baseball, and we will add the label baseball player.

But who you really are is something that lives deep inside yourself, so deep that even you are not aware of who that is. It is as if there is a drummer deep inside you, and that drummer sets the beat to which you march. To put it another way, there is a voice inside which, without speaking out loud, tells you what you need. It is the voice that tells you what is right and what is wrong. It is the voice that tells you what your passions are in life. The problem is that this voice is quite subtle. That is, it is not easy to hear, especially if there is a lot of noise around.

And there is a lot of noise around, at least in our minds. We are always thinking about something or worrying about something. That's the part of our mind we call the ego. It wants to be boss, it wants to please everyone, it wants to look good to everyone else. It always wants to be in charge, and it usually is. The trouble is that the ego is always busy and drowns out the faint sound of our drummer. If we don't hear the drummer we don't really know who we are, what we need or what we should do in life. So, how do we hear the drummer?

The secret is to quite this ego guy in our heads. It isn't an easy thing to do because there is nothing you can do to quite him. In fact, the trick is to do nothing, and that isn't easy. Some people call this meditation. It is simply sitting quietly and thinking of nothing, but that's really not easy to do. You see, the ego guy doesn't like it when he isn't in charge so, try as we might to think of nothing, he is always butting in. But if we continue to sit quietly a few minutes each day, we do start to hear the whisper or the drummer speaking to us.

That drummer, Joseph, is what we call our soul. It is the true us, what we call our essence and, no matter how hard the ego guy tries to run the show, it is our souls that speak what our heart knows to be true. It is the soul that know what we were meant to do, what we need to do.

Most people get busy and go running around out there looking for answers. Not wise, not necessary. Reading, visiting gurus or taking workshops won't get you answers to questions such as what should I do with my life? Those answers are found inside, those answers are already known by the soul, and when the soul tells us what we need it is telling us our callings in life.

Our calling is what we were born to do, what we are meant to do, and it is different for everyone. sometimes people don't like what they hear their souls tell them, and they ignore their calling to do something that will make them rich or famous. Even if they do get rich and famous, they eventually suffer when they are older and realize that they ignored their calling in life and never fulfilled their destiny.

I will stop there. This is pretty heavy stuff, isn't it? Just remember to be true to yourself. Never mind what other people think you should do or what they think about what you are doing. When another kid tells you to take drugs or smoke cigarettes, the ego guy might tell you to do it because it is cool and the other kids will like you if you do what they are doing. But take a moment and listen to your soul. It will, I am sure, tell you not to do these things...even if it means you lose your friends. You see, the soul knows that these kids are not your friends and that they will only get you into trouble and ruin your life. You don't need such "friends". Just listen to your drummer and march in time with him.

I love you,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Need v. Want
Dear Joseph,

As you get older you will come to realize that there are confusing words that people use. Many of these are important to understand, such as the difference between need and want.

To help you remember, just think that need starts with the letter "n" and so does necessary. The things that are necessary to keep us alive and safe are the things we need. So, you need air to breath, food to eat and shelter from the weather. Sometimes you will need medicine to get over some illness, and so on. In a way, you need some toys to stimulate your mind and help teach you things. Beyond that, there will be things you will want.

You will want something, like a toy or fancy bike, that your friends have. You may want a bigger TV like you see at someone else's house. You may want the latest in cloths that all your friends are wearing or to go to expensive places as they do. That's pretty normal, and you need to remember that they are all wants. If you don't get them you may feel disappointed, but you will not die from it. Let's see if I can give you an idea on how to handle the disappointment when you don't get what you want.

When I want something and I don't get it, I sit with myself and ask the question, what do I really need that makes me want to have that thing. Seems like a funny question, doesn't it? But think about it.

Say you want the cool new bike all the kids are riding, and mom and dad say no to your request. You are disappointed. But what was the need behind the want? Think about it, Joseph, because as you come to understand this you will also become your own person. And don't worry if you don't get it at first, you will as you mature. But back to the question.

You want the bike, but (more likely than not) you need to feel like you were just like the other kids. You need to feel like you fit in. Make sense? You get the same bike the others have and it is like you are all wearing the same uniform that says we belong in the group. And that would make you feel good. What you will realize as you get older is that dressing the "right" way and having the right things does not make you a part of anything except a society that wants everything it sees.

What will make you be yourself are your thoughts, your ethics (we can talk about what this means another time) and how you behave, especially when the going gets tough. You will, during your life, want many many things, and you will be able to have some of them. What you will always need, however, is to know yourself and to be true to yourself. That's how we fulfill our deepest needs.

I love you,

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Circle of Life

Dear Joseph,

In some cultures, as a way of trying to understand how we live, people have looked at life as a great circle. Some Native American cultures have divided the circle into the four directions of the compass and have assigned different periods of a man's life to each direction.

As I write this, you are about 9 months old. You live in the East where the sun rises and day begins. The architype is the lover. You are an innocent. You are new, fresh and ready to learn. You will, for a while, do most of your learning through play. Play, in fact, is your job along with exploring and questioning. A poet once said that he wished he could recall once more the seriousness he knew as a child at play. That's how important it is. Never forget to take time to play, no matter how old you are.

During this time in your life you will achive many new skills and learn many new things. Store it all away for you never know when it will serve you. You will, as well, suffer some wounds, both physicaly and mentaly. These, too, will serve you well, although it will not seem so at the time. It all happens for a reason.

During this time of your life you will have the warm support of mom and dad as well as your 4 grandparents. Along the way you will meet others, most friendly, some not. Learning to tell the difference will also be part of your learning process.

I wish you well as you begin your journey. Know, that as long as I am alive, you have my love and support. I will not unfairly judge you, and I will not sell you short. If you have a need with which I can help you need only ask. Whether or not I fulfill that request will depend on how I judge doing so will effect you.

I will, in future letters, talk more about these things. For now, go play.

I love you,

Sunday, February 17, 2008

For the rest of you
The rules I've set for myself

Some call me Silbs. I blog under that name and talk often about kayak related issues. There is, however, another important and over-riding love n my life to which I am called to devote some attention. That love is Joseph, my grandson.

I would love to know that I have another 21+ years during which to share with him my thoughts, beliefs and passions. Another 21+ years in which to give him my unique insight into this world and this life. Another 21+ years to experience the joy of watching him go through his rites of passage and into manhood. But, alas, I cannot extract that guarantee of time from the Universe.

So, it is my intention to share with him many of those things on these pages. From time to time, when the Spirit moves me, I will come here to talk to him. Well, actually, to talk to the boy, young man and man he will one day be in the hope that I can exert a positive influence on his future.

I am clear that I am not his father who is, himself, a wonderful man. I am clear that it is his father's job, along with his mother, to raise Joseph. I am also aware that the energies of a father and a grandfather/elder are entirely different. His father is a loving man who will be faced with feeding Joseph in mind and body and to discipline him to learn right living. My love for Joseph is that of a man with over 65 years of life experience, a quenched ego and a life mission of service.

Who better to serve than my grandson? And that is what I hope to do as the time I have goes on.

Grandpa Dick