My father once told me of an experience he had in college. He needed an English credit and had the choice of several courses. “Don’t take this professor”, people told him, for, as he explained to me, that professor was difficult, his standards high. But my father was undeterred; he selected that professor’s class anyway because, as he told me, “Learning is more valuable than a grade.” When the semester was finished my father was left with a B, but he was happy because he knew he was better for it than he would have been for an A in any other class. Today I can recall numerous distinct instances when people complimented my father on his writing skill and were amazed English was not his native language.
The moral is to be unafraid of adversity. Embrace challenge, even at the cost of pride. If you know an opportunity will provide you with a chance to better yourself, then sieze it without reservation and without regret. Sieze every moment.
My father once told me of an experience he had after college. He had just met my mother and was incredibly taken with her. Armed only with knowledge of her name and the name of the hospital at which she worked, he called the front desk and asked foolishly if he could be put in touch, intent to ask her out. He could not consider this strange: His determination paid off, he said, and cited the story as but one example of how this quality is extraordinarily valuable in life.
The moral is to “Always be persistent.” Whatever you lack, you can make up for it with an insistence to never give up and find fulfillment through action.
My father often told me of the wider world, of exciting things happening everywhere. He repeatedly reported and related how vast, complicated, mysterious, and fascinating is reality. He expected no one to understand, calling his words “random trivia and information no one cares about except me”, yet he shared eagerly and with great enthusiasm. And I took notice.
The moral is that life is wonderful, and you should always be curious. Everything is worth exploring, and the joy of this endeavor can be a great source of meaning and happiness.
Throughout my own time in college and elsewhere, I have remembered these tales. They give me the courage to take risks, the patience to pursue intrinsic improvement before outward validation, the resolve to press on, the inspiration to be always inquisitive and interested, and, ultimately, the confidence to overcome.
Thank you, Dad. My victories belong to you as well. I am who I am because you were who you were. I wish I could tell you how proud of you I am.
Happy Father’s Day, every one.