A recent string of events has led me to give a significant amount of thought to the idea of my legacy for K-Man. What kind of lessons will I teach him that he can take through his life? Which of those “My dad always said…” philosophies will he use in different situations – good or bad? Will I be able to provide him with a solid foundation, which will allow him to develop healthy self-esteem and even healthier relationships with family and friends?
I’ve long held the belief (all two-and-a-half years of his life, I suppose) that the most important thing I can do for K-Man is to encourage him to chase his dreams and live his passion. I’ve spent the better part of my life chasing a dream – not necessarily as hard as I should have, but always chasing that elusive goal to make my living as a writer (or some kind of creative). And, even as it seems I’ve finally managed to realize this dream (or am at least close to it), I have come to the conclusion that I have a far greater gift to offer K-Man.
Don’t get me wrong, I want him to dream and attack his passions with reckless abandon. But, if I can somehow teach him how to effectively deal with conflict and learn how to be true to himself while doing so...well then, at the end of the day, I’ll know it was a job well done.
I suck at conflict. I suck at standing up for what I want or need. I’m the first person to raise my hand to sacrifice myself in order to help someone else. And, while I understand selflessness can be a virtue unto itself, if you find yourself in the position of constantly sacrificing what you want simply to avoid some kind of conflict…it’s simply not healthy.
Obviously, I was TERRIBLE at breaking up with girlfriends. I couldn’t stand to feel as though I was hurting someone. And, it KILLED me if one of my decisions made someone cry. As soon as the tears came, I would damn near rather propose than break up (even if I was only like 16 years old).
This abject inability to really fight for what I wanted and fight for me has left me holding the bag personally and professionally on countless occasions. I can’t even imagine (nor at this point do I probably want to) the number of times when I knew I was absolutely right in a situation, but backed down in the name of “client service” or in the wake of tears. It’s the very reason that it’s taken me 40 years (and counting) to finally “live the dream.” I’ve known all along what I wanted to do – I just let too many people stand in my way.
I’m not going to let K-Man suffer the same fate. As he chases his dreams and runs up against obstacles that require him to take on some kind of conflict, I’m going to teach him how to overcome those obstacles without sacrificing himself, or harming whomever he’s “up against.” It can be done.
Whether K-Man looks out to a throng of thousands of screaming fans from the stage at Madison Square Garden, a room full of students, or into the flames of a burning building, I want him to feel powerful. I want him to feel fulfilled. I want him to feel like there’s no place he’d rather be at that very moment. That’s the real gift – the legacy – that I want to leave.
Don’t be afraid, K-Man. The world is a wonderful, welcoming place when you find your place in it. And, when you do, don’t be afraid to fight for it. Do that and you’ll be all right. And, I think my legacy to you will be complete.