Creativity Magazine

Dear Nathaniel (#1)

Posted on the 14 April 2013 by Rjnielsen039 @RobertJ_Nielsen

Alright, I promised a series of posts written as letters to my son, and I’m finally publishing the first one. Let me explain before I begin, though, that some of these will be extremely personal. I keep a notebook that I just use to strictly write to my son, whether it be various life lessons, to teach him more about myself, so that he can better understand me someday, or to just tell him that I love him. He’s still too young to read it, so it was more of something to leave him some day when I passed on. I started writing in it about the time he was born, while I was living in my car, as a way to help him understand the situation I was in while he was just an infant, and it has sort of evolved from there. There won’t really be any chronological order to these, and I won’t share everything I’ve written, and some things I write here won’t come from the notebook at all, but all of it will be real, from myself, to my son. With that in mind, here’s the first;

Dear Nathaniel,

I’m writing you this from the seat of my car again. I just wanted to let you know how I feel about certain subjects on life. By now you’ve probably already learned some of this on your own, but you’re never too old to take some advice. I wanted to write you particularly about the subject of integrity. It’s a word that is thrown around a lot, but most people don’t seem to fully live or understand it.

As a man, there are certain ways that we’re conditioned to act. We have to be tough, brave, and hard working. We’re supposed to bottle our emotions up and live by a stereotypical image of what a man really is. Well guess what, it’s all bullshit (at least in my opinion). There are a lot of things that a male should be before I would consider him a man, and the highest ranking among them is integrity.

Integrity is seen by most as just telling the truth. That’s such a small fraction of what it really means though. When engineers discuss the strengths of a particular building, bridge, etc, they are talking about the structural integrity of it. To me, that physical meaning is a symbol of what it means to have, and live with integrity as a man.

Yes, you should be honest. Tell the truth. But more than that, you should be strong of character. Commit yourself to doing what is the right thing, always. I promise you that it will make your life harder. You could potentially lose loved ones, your job, or more if you stand by what you believe in, but if you don’t, and you sacrifice your integrity for a selfish gain, you lose a part of yourself. You give up a piece of who you are every time. Life isn’t about what you have, or even truthfully about who you have. When your time to die comes, do you want to look back at the people and things that you have collected, those things that you are now about to lose, or do you want to look back and see how you’ve shaped the world? Every choice, every action you make in this life will affect the world so much more than you know. Stand by your beliefs and morals, choose your actions based on your integrity, and the ripples you send out into existence will impact far more than you can see.

So live an honest life, and stand by your beliefs and convictions. What else does it mean to have and hold integrity? It means putting others before yourself. Even those that you may not like or agree with. I’m not saying that you should let people walk all over you, but you should definitely consider the needs of others when you make decisions. This life is a temporary thing. It’s the actions you take, the impressions and memories that you leave with others, and the affect they make that lives on.

One of the key factors of integrity means that you uphold these values whether there is anybody around to notice or not. Even more so when you are alone. You shape who you are and your personality by the things that you think, feel, and do most often, and more often than not, you will not be surrounded by others. Hold onto your integrity when nobody is watching, and you will find it easier to do when they are.

Those with integrity are the light that shines for others to see. Guide them, hold strong for them, and be the example you want others to be.

Shine bright son. I will write more to you as soon as I can.

I love you, Dad.

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