Monday, May 21, 2012

Friends with Words

For each graduation from high school, family and friends of whichever Fredrick was commencing have sent letters, photos and memories to be compiled into a scrapbook of extraordinary encouragement. A week ago Matty batted cleanup for this crew and ended our high school days forever. While the book awaits a few additional entries because of my slow start, it is already the best kind of treasure -- words of life for the days ahead. 
This entry is one he hasn't seen yet--it came in on graduation night from Ghana, a friend who is family and who has known him since he was two. It's the kind of wisdom that should be a commencement address and so I'm offering the only platform I have in order to share it.

Dear Matty,
I missed some of your siblings with this, don't want to miss you, so your mom is receiving this in an email, which she will print.  That's the only reason my real signature isn't on it.
Ok, here we go...
1. Money is Important
Learn how to manage your money: get a checking and a savings, learn how to balance your checkbook, do it, keep track of your spending, and save 10% of everything you earn or receive.  When you get enough saved up, start investing in some form or get long-term savings acct.  Don't have a poverty mentality: decide how much income you want per year and then go for it.  Even if you're being supported by your parents for awhile, figure out your expenses and tell them how much you need.   I'm totally not kidding.  Learning how to manage money now will save you so much heartache in the future.  You don't have to love it or make it a God.  Money is a tool, and it is really good to learn how to use it.
2.  It's On You Now
No matter what anyone says to you, or treats you, or how you think, you are now an adult.  Ok, your brain isn't fully formed yet, however, the decisions you make now, whether they are good, bad, or ugly, will only REALLY affect you.  In other words, you can no longer stick it to your parents or siblings or anyone else.  The only one you really f__k up at this point is you.
3. Death Is An Equal Opportunity Taker.
Young people die every day from being with the wrong people, at the wrong places, doing the wrong things, at the wrong time.  (See # 2).  Don't waste your time and life on B.S.  There is fun, and then there is B.S.  We all know the difference.
4. Know thyself.
What are your gifts, talents and abilities?  What do you want to do?  What vision do you have for your life?  I'm sure you have one.  You may not have told anyone about it yet, it may be embarassing to tell others your dreams.  It's hard. 
That's ok.  Share carefully.  Take the vision seriously.  In the next few years you will refine it, it will morph, but I dare say that the essence of the vision Matthew has for Matthew will NOT change.  These thoughts, longings, urges, dreams (waking and sleeping) come from God.  God gives that to everyone, regardless of faith or church affiliation...and you know what is true vision and what is not.   I don't think your vision is to be the dictator of a small country, so I'm not worried.  
5. Pay Attention
In the Holy Grail stories, the person who guards it is a wounded knight.  The person who finally asks him, "Why do you suffer?" is the person who finds the Grail.  Pay attention, not just to yourself, but to other people.  Of course you must take care of yourself (that's what 1,2, 3 and 4 are about, use your common sense).  However, the key to success is being of service.  Give your gifts away to the world in service for money.  In other cases do it for love.  I don't know, you have to figure it out for yourself, this is kind of mystical.  Look at people.  Read. Look at places.  Think.  What does the back of your hand look like?  Be in the world and serve.   Pay attention.
6.  There is a God.
You may not end up with the faith of your parents', siblings, or grandparents.   I hope you keep a faith.  I hope you continue to believe in God and the goodness and beauty of life.  Because oh Matty, in spite of everything you may have suffered or seen or done, life is so DESPERATELY good.
Oh, the possibilities that lie before you!  Trust me when I say your life can be beautiful and wonderful.  But you have to believe it, and step out in that. 
The world is wild and wide, and I wish you the best of it always.  I hope you find the Grail that is yours.
Congratulations on your graduation from High School.  Shit, no more little Fredricks.
I remain your friend, with much love and affection,

No comments:

Post a Comment