Being Human (for beginners)

Being Human is written as a love letter to my then unborn son, but I offer it freely to all. We are all someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, neighbor.

Hey little one, how are you doing? As I write this, you have no idea who I am, and I haven’t even seen your face, since the scans don’t even show your shape. You have a heartbeat. You are this teeny tiny thing inside your mother, and one day you’ll read this and probably be embarrassed to hell, but I don’t care. Why? Because I love you.

I’ve been anxious these past few weeks, and your mother has been as well. We’re in Japan, and hoping to get back to Canada, at some point in time. We’re living in Tokyo, and we’ll soon move in with your grandparents, for the sake of having family around who have been through this process before.

Tokyo is the most incredible city I’ve ever seen. It is enormous, and over-abounds with things to see and do. Your grandparents live in the mountains up North, close to this gorgeous lake named Chuzenji. The clouds often drift through the surrounding mountains, bringing the smell of evergreens with them. I can’t wait to show you this place, I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as we do. You’ll have to excuse me, I sometimes get off topic (but I’m sure if you’re reading this, you already know).

I’m still waiting for my spousal visa, to be able to work here as an English teacher. As stressed as we are, your mother and I love each other very much, and know that that is what will help us stick together and prepare for your arrival.

I fancy myself a bit of a writer, even though I’ve never published a thing (yet!). Even though I don’t know who you are, or how you will turn out, I want to put every single chances on your side, and that’s the reason I wrote this: for you. We have a tradition among human beings, those others that you’ll meet in a little while, and will have to deal with for the rest of your life. The tradition is that we try to make things a little easier for our children than they were for ourselves. To give them more choices than what we had. We all do it in different ways, and with different results, but I believe that if I give you the right information, you might be able to avoid some of the grief that I went through.

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t stop life from happening to you; that would be a cruel thing to do. I only want you to be properly equipped to handle what it tosses at your face: the good, the great, the bad, the sad, and everything else.

You see, there are people who mistakenly believe that overprotecting their children will somehow save them from the vicissitudes of life (that means the poo life tosses at you). The truth is, there is no one that will take care of you better than yourself, later on. For that reason, you should be well prepared and autonomous.

Don’t be afraid, though. Being a self-reliant person does not mean you are alone, far from it. It is just as important to be able to surround yourself with caring, loving people as it is to be able to do things on your own. The idea is that you have choices available in the way you deal with every situation you encounter in your life. You will be reliant on yourself and the people that are a part of it. Yes, you read me right. You will make friends, you have family, you will work with others, and you will never be alone unless you want to be.

The people you choose to associate with will help or hinder, propel you forward or hold you back. Your choices will determine whether they are good companions for you, or if you are a worthy one for them. It all sounds very confusing, I know. That’s why I’ll teach you all this stuff slowly, so you have plenty of time to understand it all. I think I’m also writing this down so I don’t forget anything (I have a terrible memory. Ask your mother, she’ll tell you often.) and be able to remind myself the things I should know as well.

This is my love letter to you.

I think it might get longish, but hey, that just means there’s more of me you get to remember when I’m no longer around! Maybe some of the stuff I’ll write down doesn’t make sense. I am aware that that might be the case. The thing is, at different points in your life, you will understand different things. Have patience; that is one of the most important things you can develop, is patience.

You cannot have everything you want when you want it. Being able to wait for something is often an even better reward than getting it the moment you realize you want it. So please, please, please be patient with your parents, as much as we will try to be patient with you. We will try to answer all your questions, and help you achieve all your goals, I promise. I think back on my own childhood now, and a moment of dread just crossed my entire being. That is something you will feel when your first child will be on its way, but not now. Not yet. You still have some growing to do, and some living, and some playing, and some learning, and loving, and discovering. You’ll also have plenty of confusion, anger, and sadness, frustrations and bewilderment, and all these things are completely normal.

I have to tell you though, it’s mostly all about love.

It doesn’t seem so, often, but it is.

There are millions upon millions of people on this earth, where you will decide where to settle down one day and make your home, and they live love. That is how we survive, and thrive. If we didn’t there would be none of us left.

Welcome to life, kiddo. It’s everything you didn’t expect and more. Whenever I think that I’m writing my first ‘words of wisdom’ as a dad, I get a little choked up. I have a vision of you in my mind, and I can’t help but smile, thinking about you. Like every parent, I will want you to be perfect, even though you’re not. I will put pressure on you to be better than you are, even though you don’t want to.

All these terrible tortures I will put you through, I will do because I care for you. It’s hard to know where to get started, because everything is not simple. Living your life is the most complex thing you will ever be faced with, no doubt about it. I imagine you shaking your head yes, wide-eyed, wondering where all this is heading.

Even though you will have, up to a point, lived with the truths we have imposed upon you, you will come to question those truths. Naturally, if the answers we have given you for the truths we hold dear are unsatisfactory, you’ll go looking for your own somewhere else. That’s part of growing up, and becoming your own person. We couldn’t expect you to become an individual if you were to only believe what your parents had to say. This is why it is so important for you to be open to as many possibilities as you can be, since restricting yourself to a single answer cannot cover all that is within the realm of human thought.

Be aware, though, that not everything that is said is the truth. Nothing is ever ‘perfect’, in the human world, but that doesn’t mean we are not ‘perfectible’: we try to become ‘better’ all the time. Perfectible, or ‘better’, mean different things to different people, though, depending on what their values are. The fact that we never will be ‘perfect’ shouldn’t detract you from the attempt. It is an ideal that can never be reached, and everybody dies on the road to it, but it is the journey that reveals everything about who you are. Everybody has their own version of what that ideal goal is. Their methodology reveals their philosophy. Their philosophy is their truth. Their truth is their lives. I can’t tell you what the ‘best way’ to be is. I can only tell you what my ‘best way’ is, and what I believe.

I have no choice but to imprint in you these beliefs, because if I didn’t do so, I’d be raising you with what to me amount to lies. That’s why I’ll have to ask you to forgive us for raising you in our image and that of the world that surrounds us. It’s how I see it, how I live it, and how I would like you to do the same, of course.

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