I'm sorry about the world you were born into, where there is war and poverty and cancer and death. It's certainly imperfect, but it's the only one we've got. I hope that by the time you have grown into maturity, things have gotten a little better. I hope there is universal health care. I hope oil companies have gone the way of the dodo (or gnatcatcher? or polar bear?). I hope there are still good teachers. I hope there are still green, open spaces.
I'm sorry if you inherited any of my health problems, like the tendency toward skin cancer (damn Irish) and colitis and anxiety and depression. If I could, I would make you perfectly healthy and happy.
But sometimes you will be unhappy, and sometimes you will be REALLY unhappy, and sometimes you might even want to kill yourself. Hang in there, buddy. Hold onto the people you love. Let them give you shelter from the storm.
If you ask me about God, I will probably get quiet and sad. I will tell you to look at the stars.
If you ask me the meaning of life, I will say three things:
1.) I don't know
2.) No one does.
I'd like to elaborate on that third point--contribute. Buddy, you were born into a society that says, "Selfishness is how you get ahead." People who have bought into this lie will give you fancy, nice-sounding names for selfishness, like "capitalism" and "The American Dream" and "free market." Don't believe them, buddy. They are liars.
If you want to make a difference in the world, you have to be the exact OPPOSITE of selfish. You have to be selfless.
I can't tell you what selflessness will look like for you, buddy. I can tell you what it looks like for me:
It is doing things that bring you no financial gain, that really cost you time and resources, but still doing them because they contribute something meaningful and beautiful to the world. Open an art gallery in the middle of a recession. It will nourish the souls of the depressed. Start a community garden. Join the peace corps. Be a teacher.
And here's another important thing: selflessness is not a one time deal. It's not like you do one or two nice things a year and say, "I am selfless." It is a way of life. It is every day contributing what you can contribute. It is giving, giving, giving. It is beautiful.
But it is also hard, buddy. If you are like me, you will be moderately poor. You will worry about money. Don't worry. You will survive, as I have, by living simply. Buddy, a simple life is a beautiful life.
And sometimes you will get tired and frustrated and lonely and sad. You will think no one understands you. I hope, when you feel that way, that you can look me right in the eyes and know that I understand.
Buddy, you come from a family of artists. Your great grandfathers built houses and took photographs of horses and invented things. You grandfather wrote books. Your father dabbles in almost everything. I wonder what you will create. I can't wait to see it, and to show you what I have made.
Someday, when you are older, we will sit down and have a few beers and smoke a few cigarettes and listen to Captain Beefheart and talk about all this stuff.
Jesse (your future dad)