I often think about the important life advice I want to share with T as he gets older.
This past Saturday, I came across a song by the late Swedish DJ Avicii, whose soulful work I’ve long admired, called “The Nights.”
Its simplistic lyrics, told through the perspective of a young man recounting his father’s advice, deeply resonated with me.
He said: ‘One day you’ll leave this world behind.
So live a life you will remember.’
My father told me when I was just a child
‘These are the nights that never die.’– The Nights
Every parent has their own perceptions of the important things to impart to their child.
One of my dearest friends gifts T with a book for every birthday. Her latest gift is Oliver Jeffers’ “Here We Are: Notes for Living On Planet Earth,” a book the Irish artist wrote detailing what he felt his newborn child needed to know.
Growing up, I always got the impression from my parents that I needed a good education and a well-paying job to be successful.
My mom always hoped one of her kids would become a doctor and has transferred that hope to T, even after I’ve reminded her that while we won’t limit him, his prognosis will make school-based learning challenging.
My parents weren’t wrong that working hard in school and life is important, but I’ve learned to use other metrics of success.
First and foremost, happiness = true success.
From that flows the values and hope that I would like to impart to T:
- Work ethic and enjoyment over status
- Life experiences over material things
- Comfort, health and kindness over wealth
- Quality over quantity of relationships
- Journey and process over destination
- You are never alone in this world
- Daddy and Papa are always here for you
- Define for yourself what happiness means to you – then work and fight for it
In my prayers, I often ask for T to live a life with happiness, good health, self sufficiency, rewarding lasting relationships, and the ability to contribute positively to the world and to himself.
Whatever that looks like for him, I’m open to all possibilities.
One day my father, he told me
‘Son, don’t let it slip away.’
He took me in his arms, I heard him say
‘When you get older
Your wild heart will live for younger days
Think of me if ever you’re afraid.’– The Nights
On Saturday, we had a rough start to the day. The smallest things – getting ready to go for a walk, practicing reading – felt like a battle.
Feeling frustrated, I left him in the hubby’s care and went to the gym to let off steam.
Later at night, I was lying in bed reading the news, when T came in to snuggle and asked if we could look at photos on my phone.
We journeyed back to our first camping trip, a video of him going down a set of stairs for the first time, to a video of him cliff jumping for the first time at Killbear last summer.
After T went to bed, I scrolled through Instagram and came across a travel video that was scored with Avicii’s song.
The song struck such a chord, after T and my walk down memory lane moments earlier.
I imagined that it was T singing those words – and living his best life – and felt a tear or two fall down my face.
When thunder clouds start pouring down
Light a fire they can’t put out
Carve your name into those shining stars
He said: ‘Go venture far beyond the shores
Don’t forsake this life of yours
I’ll guide you home, no matter where you are.’– The Nights