A Letter to Dad- Poem on Purpose
This has been incoming for some time.
You asked, the other day, about my infamous goals lists. I told you I had written up a new goals list, but upon looking through my papers I found that the ones I have at the moment are relatively inconclusive. I’m sure sometime between now and Christmas I will again feel the impetus to write one again, and that it will take up multiple pages; I will inform you when I do.
In the meantime, last week I was discussing life goals with some friends, and I found that the easiest way to organize them was through a one-stanza poem I had penned in a fit of absent-mindedness some time back:
“To know the ways of Man,
To write with fire in my pen,
To lead with vigor in my chest,
To live with prudence in my breast.”
This list wound up being comparatively abstract and whimsy; following my adage “No plan ever goes according to plan,” I decided not to specify what I wanted to do in each case, as things change over the course of life and anyway, I have discovered empirically that to write something specific as a goal, without a plan and muscle behind that plan, can be practically to jinx it out of the realm of possibility.I have included certain possibilities in the notes, and in some cases have made the goals relatively specific, but have left it broad so as to give the me of the future plenty of leeway to play the PRINCIPLE rather than the PART.
To know the ways of Man:
This is an exhortation to expand my knowledge of human affairs in general; it is additionally an aspiration to travel far and wide, expanding my observations of the world and of human life.
-Travel around the world
-Learn many languages and cultures
-Hike the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail
-Go to Space
To write with fire in my pen:
This is first a continuation of the first part of the preceding line, to gain a broad and potent understanding of human affairs in general, but moreover an aspiration to improve and perfect my writing ability, my greatest tool.
-Write a great political treatise
To lead with vigor in my chest:
Vigor being the stuff of life, and much vigor being the stuff of much life, this reminds me to live without regret, seeking opportunities and experiences at all times ad infinitum. I seek this not only as an individual, but as a leader; and without it I cannot accomplish great things.
-Be a great speaker, organizer, and leader
-Serve the interests of the United States
-Get Mankind to expand its civilization to Space
-Give back to Family, Scouting, Church (the three institutions which most molded me)
To live with prudence in my breast:
Prudence being that great moderator of our actions and, in many ways, that first of two sparks allowing Man to meagerly resemble the Divine (the other, of course, being Love,) I see it as critical to increase it in myself. Limited though I am as a human (and as me, in particular) Ben Franklin’s parable of the speckled axe, I believe, holds true- though I might never be perfect, I may, by striving for perfection, become much better than I would have been, had I never tried at all.
-Understand Life and the Universe somewhat more
-Grow in Virtue, Wisdom, and Character
-Build a good family
-Grow closer to God
Of course, these four general areas presuppose a life in which certain other goals are met constantly- the maintenance of a healthy life physically in all ways, mentally, and emotionally, constant study, a general subjugation of those internal demons endemic to my person which have at times incapacitated me, the upkeep of relationships and positions in this incredibly complex society and world, honorable commitment to various oaths and standards, not least to those laws which govern my particular residence at any given time, and a whole host of other responsibilities. I can only strive to live these out as best as possible while keeping my goals above water.
With any luck, I will know some success in my endeavors. Here I must recall the brief prayer which I have always used when it has become clear to me that I can do nothing to maneuver with fate or chance but act, my own vision never ensured, and more often, when I have been humbled, and discerned that my prospects and existence are bestowed solely by the favor of divine Providence: “God, however you want things to go, please cause them to go however you want them to go.” And the corollary, “And please help me to accept and bear through it.”
There you have it. Perhaps college has made me a mystic, or a hipster. Nonetheless this is how I think, and this is how I have set my goals, in the broadest sense. In many shorter phases, I have much more concrete goals. I will be writing up my 2014 list soon, and I will probably have a career-specific one shortly, too. But this one, I think, is the most important.
It was great seeing you this weekend Dad! I can’t wait to see you this Thanksgiving!