It’s been a crazy few weeks and a lot has been on my mind. Too much, in fact. And, despite what many of the readers whom I have shared these letters with think, I do keep some things private. No one needs to know about the genuinely crazy thoughts that lurk in my head. But there’s something I do want to write to you about today, and it’s the meaning of life.
Some parents spend a lot of time focusing on their kids making the elite soccer team, or getting into Harvard. And that’s all fine. Soccer is fun and Harvard definitely looks good on a resume, no doubt about that. But that’s not what I want for you. That stuff is all very silly, really. And that’s something I didn’t realize until I had the good fortune to deal with serious illness, head on. Some days, being sick makes me cry. Sometimes it makes me angry. And other days it makes me feel caught, like a lobster in a trap. But I never feel resentful. I never feel that way, Eva, because there is a true beauty that lies within illness, and even the prospect of death. Once those things have stared you down, the sun will forever soak through you- straight to your core, and the rain will smell sweeter than you ever realized.
Everyone likes to talk about how it’s all about the small stuff. Sure. That’s right. But, it’s more than that. It’s also about letting go of the small stuff and looking at the big picture. And that picture is so much bigger than just you, or me. It’s the abandoned puppy at the kill shelter, it’s the two year-old leukemia patient who might not live to see her third birthday and it’s the new kid eating his lunch alone in the corner of the cafeteria. It’s not Harvard. Eva! It’s. Not. Harvard.
Now, just because illness has endowed me with a miraculous sixth sense of viewing the world from a more fulfilling perspective, this does not mean I wish illness upon you. And just because I hope more than anything that your legacy will be left by making our world a better place for many, not just yourself, this does not mean I don’t want you to have highly personal goals. Because happiness takes work, Eva. Sometimes you have to cry your way to happiness. Sometimes your heart will get eaten out before it can grow any bigger. And I hope that sometimes, often even, you’ll put your happiness on the back burner, if only for a minute or two, in order to make someone else’s happiness happen. But I hope you spend every minute of your life focusing on it, working towards it, and fighting for it.
So many people spend so much time looking for fulfillment, for happiness. And so many people don’t even have the courage to shift through the garbage to find it; they just give up. The thing is, it is hard to find and the constant journey towards it takes a ton of guts. But I’m going to give you a head start, kid. The answer is all around you. So take it all in. Breath out whenever you need to. And whatever you do, don’t be a jerk.
Ready. Set. Go!
With High Hopes,