Dear sons, here’s another lesson I want you to learn from me. Life doesn’t owe you anything, and you are not entitled to a free ride. Anything and everything you strive for in this world will come with a price, and every choice you make, good or bad, comes with consequences. If you make good choices, those consequences can benefit you for a lifetime. If you make poor choices, they can hold you back from reaching your potential. If you make terrible choices, they can haunt you for the rest of your life. I know this from personal experience and from watching others live with the consequences of decisions they made in haste or short-sightedness.
Too often, people fall into the delusion that success is a given. Too often, people believe that all they have to do is show up, and the world will be so enamored with their charm or genius that riches and fame will be theirs for the taking. In my youth, I suffered from this delusion. I believed at 18 that my writing ability would be so astounding, so original, so authentic, I would be granted the keys to the walled city and live on easy street for the rest of my days. By 22, I had learned my folly. I had to hone my craft, had to get knocked down multiple times, had to get back up, and had to earn every iota of success I’ve achieved. The world taught me quickly and succinctly that it owed me nothing.
I’m sharing this lesson not to dampen your spirits or dash your dreams, but rather to prepare you for the reality of just how difficult life can be. I want you to be ready for those times when you do get knocked down to get up, brush yourself off, and brace yourself to fight again. Just as I tell you whenever you lose at a video game to practice more and try harder, in life, you must do the same because it has a way of being relentless, especially when you’re down.
You both have unlimited potential. You both have intelligence, creativity, and personality. You will have opportunities to achieve great things with your lives, but you will have to earn that greatness. You cannot wish for it; you cannot hope for it; you cannot dream it into reality. You must earn it, and it can be a long, hard road. I will be there for you as much as possible, but in the end, you will have to do it for yourselves.