Words for the Son I Didn’t Have

At an indeterminate point in life, I had forsaken being a father. It was not for me. I had yet to begin to reconcile or heal my experience and fear from childhood, from my past. Perhaps I was justified. Maybe I wasn’t. At the time, I had yet to learn to forgive or to be kind to me. I was so vehemently invested in the idea of having children, especially a son, that I instilled fear within, despite my greatest intentions to be contrary. It’s always harder to not be something than to just be something else.

Since that time, I’ve discovered my sentence to non-fatherhood was my refusal to love myself. I became capable of loving unconditionally; I discovered this possibility working with Lance. I’m forever grateful for Lance’s belief in me and his conviction in helping me.

I discovered my father in Sensei Dan, who inspired me to Aikido Sensei. I had the greater ability to use my powers for good, not evil as a guide for young people. Teaching Aikido to kids and teens gave hope, another possibility. As Sensei, I’ve participated in the evolution of boys into good strong men.

I’m in awe and touched by all dads, who raise their sons to be their own man and to pursue greater.

I’m not a dad. I won’t be. That’s just not in my path. Yet, I wonder what I might say to my son, in another lifetime. Maybe, his name would be John with an “h”—Jon Jr. probably wouldn’t work. You know I’m just messing. Anyway, what I would tell young John about the life ahead? Here’s what I would tell him…


John, you’re a lot stronger and smarter than you know. I’ve got your back, here. You might worry that you won’t be liked. You could continue to worry, and get really good at worrying. Or just be you. That’s more than enough.

A wise man Fred Rogers said, “You don’t have to do anything sensational to be loved.” Son, know that I love you always, and so does your mom.

Defining who you are in the world can be oh so scary. What if the world doesn’t like you back? If you aren’t hurting others or yourself: Fuck it. You get to be more of you.

There will be times in your life when you feel afraid and weak. Don’t listen to that voice in your head that says, “I suck.” “I’m no good.” Listen to those voices who have your back, who walk beside you, the ones who love you. Listen for my voice, “I’m proud of you.” “I love you, Son.”

Even the darkest times shall pass. Know that the sun rises in the morning. You always get to start brand new. Amen. Know that love makes you strong. A man possesses power in his kindness, in his grace, in his words, in his actions, and even in his tears.

You will be a good man. You have a good heart. You have the common sense of right and wrong. Most importantly you care about others. You have compassion.

Discover what you love to do. Love what you love to do regardless of how old you get. Finding passion is also learning what you don’t like.

Your first love maybe someone or not. Regardless, that first love will live with you for a lifetime. John, live your life on the field: Strive valiantly and dare to fail bravely.

What’s in your future? Well, who knows? Let me offer this: Fall madly and deeply in love. Discover the one who is your own infinity. Don’t sweat the small shit. Life has a way of working itself out. Yes, there will be good times and bad. Hold those you love close. Endure for the greater than you know you can be. Life is the journey, not the destination. Trust me on this.

You choose who you are going to be in any given moment. Choose to be greater. Choose to make a difference for others. Our profound duty is to leave the world a little better than when we came into it.

Know that I’m proud of you, Son. Know that I love you with all my heart. The world is greater because you’re in it. Make your life the gift that pays forward.

This post was originally published on the author’s Facebook timeline and is republished here with his permission.

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