“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” — Steve Jobs
Today is your birthday. Nineteen years ago, I was waiting for you. After many years of infertility and heartbreak, I wondered if I would ever have the opportunity to have the joy that only a child can bring. For many years I tried to imagine your face, your voice, and the person that would someday honor me as “Mom”. Today, you are twenty years old. I now know your face, the kindness in your eyes, the humor and mischievousness of your smiles, and the pensive look of your quiet thought. I now know your voice…the young man of few words…but understands the true meaning of each one, and I know who you are, such an intelligent soul that is immersed in all things of the heart…kindness and compassion. I want you to know when you were first put in my arms, I looked into your eyes and held your tiny hand in awe; today, I am still in awe as I watch you move through life.
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. — Tom Schulman, Dead Poets Society
From day one, you beat to a different drum. The first time you met the dogs outside for a walk with us, they barked and you exuded happiness. You started talking very early as you pointed to my Solo cup and said “Iced Tea!” At about eighteen months, you leaned up in your stroller and pointed to a store logo in a mall and said “Gap!” The next several days were a whirlwind of pointing and saying words…”exit”, “Hardees”, “Holiday Inn”, “Belk”, and the list went on. Shortly thereafter, you were reading. You still read today and seem to never forget the pages. It wasn’t long before you were taking things apart to see how they worked. For you, life was not a ball and a bat, but a world to figure out and understand the how and why. At night, I would crash braindead after another day of being followed around the house with your constant questions waiting for a reasonable answer. In preschool, you walked out of class to find the elevator. It was more interesting than finger painting. Your reason for leaving the class: “I wanted to see how it worked.” You never ceased to amaze me as a little boy. You were always so grown up in your interests, never fascinated by the popular toys of the day.
Before long you were school age. You were still fascinated with the design of things. You received your first Mac on your sixth birthday. By the next day, you had it all figured out. You knew shortcuts and how to fix what drives the average person insane. When you were eight, you got the Wii for Christmas. Your dad was telling you to read the instructions on how to put it together. In fact, he was getting quite exasperated, and then “boom”, you were playing it. Soon it was the cell phone and then the first iPhone. By age fifteen, you had built your own computer. You spent hours selecting parts that fit into your design. For some reason, you picked up a camera. The way you see things through the lens of camera is truly art. It was you of course, who explained in your interview at UNCSA, that technology is merging with the Arts as you handed them a flash drive with your digital resume. You did not get accepted, maybe you were not quite artsy enough, but you certainly see technology with a very artistic eye. As you continue to find your place in the world, you know what you want, you are just trying to figure out how to pull it from a “tradionalist” world. Your entrepreneurial spirit will surely leave your imprint regarding the things that matter to you… humanity, all living things, and our planet. I love the way you are not phased by expectations others set for you, but rather by your internal pull. Each and every day you inspire me to live my life outside of my comfort zone. You have transformed the way I see the world. It is much bigger and more accessible to our dreams than I ever thought possible.
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”- Steve Jobs
You are no longer a little boy. You are now a man. You are the man of tomorrow. You do not need violence to be strong. You do not need the old idea of what being a man looks like. You are kind and strong, caring and responsible. I hope as the years pass, you keep your ability to be true to self, for most people lose themselves to others' expectations. If you listen to that voice, that inner voice, it will carry you to your unique place on the planet. The place where you will always feel at home.
The question is not what you look at, but what you see. — Henry David Thoreau
So on this twentieth birthday, I wish you happiness. I hope every morning you wake up, you will find something that brings you joy. As you see the world through the lens of your camera, notice what others miss, stop to look when others walk by, and before you snap the photo, remember what you see, because often it is what we see that others do not, that makes the difference in our lives. My mother was my best friend. I hope that you too can see me not only as your mom, but as also a best friend. I will always have your back. I love you! Carpe Diem!
If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? — Carpe — hear it? — Carpe, Carpe Diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary. — N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society