new york city kid in arkansas
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This has been a painful season of president-electing for us. Never have I wished I could un-hear such hateful words and mean ideas as I have over the past few months. For parents attempting to raise children in a world that rejects bullying, sexism and racism in favor of love and compassion, it has been impossible to explain how someone like Donald Trump could get this far.  Last night felt tragic, this morning like a nightmare.

But then Huck, who has become passionately political during this election, received an email from his friend’s dad, and since it finally released all the terrified, angry and heartbreaking tears I’ve been on the brink of shedding since June, I thought it belonged here. This afternoon I am thankful for friends most of all.

To Huck, Esmé & Maren:

I wanted to share this with you today. You three, plus your group of friends, are extraordinary and I love you guys.  I don’t want to see you discouraged and I don’t want you to feel defeated. Last night was tough. We’re sad. It was truly unthinkable that Trump could win. But he did, of course. Now what do we do? That’s the question I’ve been asking.

I spoke to my friend, Ted last night. We went to architecture school together. He lives in Virginia.  Sometimes we don’t talk to each other for a whole year or more, but he’s my good friend anyway.  We both felt confident and happy that Hillary would win. We wished each other luck and promised to see each other soon. This morning, he sent me the following text:

“Let this inspire us to seek the best in ourselves and to do our best work.”

That was a good thing for me to consider on this scary and discouraging morning. I wanted to share it with you along with a few of my thoughts on what that might mean.

I suggest we have more of these things. I hope you’ll join me:

1. More time with friends, sleepovers, and spontaneous opportunities to hang out, movies, plays, meet-ups, roller skating, you name it. Let’s have some fun!

2. More independence – you guys are getting old enough to begin doing more things together on your own. Let’s explore some possibilities.

3. More time in nature.  Let’s get outside. Let’s go camping or take a hike. It’s a beautiful world. Sometimes I get too focused on the problems. It’s always good for the heart to get out and breathe.

4. More of your best work – I am in awe of the creative force that you and your group of friends possess.  You guys are like wizards in training or something! I’m not joking!  I see the ways you interact and it inspires me every day! So work and play. Do your boring, tedious homework, do it quickly, do it well, and get it out of the way so you can get to the real high-value work of drawing, writing, acting, performing, singing, exploring, making.  You do that so naturally and those are the most important things! When you nurture expression, you nurture yourself.

5. More compassion – support each other and your friends.  Be kind and look for people that may feel excluded.  There’s a lot of talk right now about ‘them and they.’  ‘They’ are dangerous.  ‘They’ come across the border and take our jobs.‘They’ are not like us.  We should be afraid of ‘them.’  Nope. We are all human and we are all unique. Don’t allow anyone to be excluded because of who they are. We’re better than that. The only distinction I observe among us is that there are those of us who live in fear and those who choose love.  Love is the root of courage and compassion.

6. Talk to your parents or Stacey or me any time. I can only speak for myself. I’m an old dude. I may be the only one that gets my jokes. But I’m here and I’ve seen a lot and I think a lot. If you’re feeling unsure about anything and would like to ask me what I think, I’d be honored to share my perspective with you. Also, I’m sure your parents would offer the same to any of you.

I also recommend less of a few things too:

1. Don’t focus on news media – especially network and cable news.  Understand that by holding your attention, they can sell advertising to corporations.  And they use fear (see item 5 above) to hold your attention. It is a distraction from your most important work (see item 4! – see how this is working?). When I want to watch things, it’s YouTube Maker videos for me, baby! Jimmy DiResta, Laura Kampf.  I can’t get enough!

2. Don’t focus on what Trump’s doing (or anyone else for that matter).  Rather, focus on what you’re going to do (See item 4 again!). Maybe think of it in terms of what you’re doing in contrast to what the world is focusing on. While all of that fear and angst is channeled on things that are unproductive, you can make the world more beautiful and compassionate.

3. Don’t be afraid. This world is beautiful and you’re living at the best time in its history. Just before Maren was born, which, obviously was around the same time you all came into this world, I was very discouraged and afraid.  I told a friend that I didn’t know what kind of world my little girl would arrive to find.  My friend got very serious with me and told me something that I try to remember always.  She said, “Look around you, look at the people around you, look at the places around you. Everywhere you see beauty and love.  We are safe and warm at night. We have the incredible privilege to do our best work and care for each other in our families and community. Don’t let anyone distract you from that. Your daughter will arrive in a beautiful time and place.”  It’s really true in so many ways.

You’re fantastic! I’m lucky to know you! If anybody moves to Canada, be prepared for me to visit.  I’d like one of those big furry hats and an impossibly large-pattern red and black plaid woolen shirt – maybe some of those knee-high moccasins too (with my woolen pants tucked-in).  I’ll grow out my beard like the ZZ Top guys.  You’ll feel proud walking down the street with me.  Think about that.

Now, let’s do cool stuff!
Bret


5 comments

Aunt Jeni

November 9th, 2016

What great advice for kids of today. Compassion and Passion and being the best you. Bravo!

Shauntsies

November 9th, 2016

How wonderful!! What a great dad and friend Bret must be. And Huck, Maren and Esme are the three coolest names around.

Shana

November 9th, 2016

Love this.

Pappy T

November 9th, 2016

Yes, more cool stuff!

amanda robinson

November 10th, 2016

This is fantastic!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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