Growing Up - A Letter To My Nephew

Dated 22/06/2014

Hi Avi,
Firstly, I am sorry for not calling you on your birthday. Instead of giving you an elaborate excuse which is not even true, let me just tell you the truth- I was absent-minded, the state where you are so pre-occupied with selfish and inconsequential details that you lose sight of what's truly important. A side-effect of growing up. I promise to never let it affect me again in forgetting your birthday. Even as a ghost, I promise to call you.

Why am I doing this? 22. Accomplished nothing. A failure by many standards. Considered naive and wrong by almost everyone in his life. Why indeed. I do not have a concrete answer. There is also a good chance that your future may not have room for all that I am writing. I guess, somehow, I wish someone had told me all this when I was growing up. I sort of feel responsible to you maybe because I felt a unique sensation of love and protection when I had seen your pictures just after you were born 5 years ago.

We Screwed Up

I offer you an unconditional apology. My generation screwed up. We grew up hearing the world's problems as rumors, never believing them and instead choosing to believe our personal fairytales. We were ambitious but for our wants, we were kind with an agenda and our actions were seen in the context of immediate personal impact. The callousness of our generation can be summed up by a joke I heard a few years back-
"Look, if you make a Facebook page, we will like it. That is the least we could do. That is also the MOST we can do"-Seth Meyers.

Today's pages of Humans, Causes, Upworthy and rest are proof of that. It is easiest to clap at humanity in adversity, way tougher to show it in a similar situation. The environment, war and hundred other ailments will be passed onto you like we got it from the previous generation. The only difference is, your generation may pay the heaviest price of our mistakes, more than even what we paid.

About Education

I guess I cannot give you sound advice on this topic. I have only experienced Indian Education (wishing it was sometimes an enriching one). You will grow up in the British System which I hope is better. But don't be fooled by what they promise. There is only one place the education you receive will help you-the exams. Educated and enlightened are mutually exclusive concepts. There is much to learn from the world itself.
Everything is an education when you are growing up and some of the best lessons come from the most unexpected corners. I do not remember the exact breathing process I learnt in biology. But I vividly remember when Hitch said "Life is not about the number of breathes you take, but the moments which take your breath away". I have forgotten scores of poems but I remember "Let It Be" with precision and it has helped more than any great poet ever could. Lessons are all around us. Mix it all. Don't let them define you.
Modern education is designed to standardize you. "You can be anything you want, as long as it’s a monetarily feasible dream." is the coded language you are told. But don't let them deafen you. Follow every instinct and wish you have because tomorrow is the same you with a lot less time. Play sports, learn music or dance or anything and maybe even everything. One or two bad grades don't ruin anything, but regret is something which does not allow for revaluation. You have to live with it for the rest of your life. Soak it all in and don't ever stop your Impulses.

About YOLO

You Only Live Once i.e. you are consciously aware of only one life-the one you are living. That should act like a scary warning about cause and effect. Instead, my generation is using it as a life motto. I just wonder when they will stop- after one has visited all the 196 countries in the world including every city in it, scaled Everest and every other peak in the world while also having dived into the Mariana Trench? You Only Live Once. Make it count-for yourself and the world. YOLO as a justification for being cavalier is plain stupid. I already told you earlier, things are not going to be good. Everyone will have to make sacrifices and pitch in to survive.You Only Live Once. So does that kid who came to beg you for food, the childhood park tree which is dying and that well-meaning love you are ignoring. We All Live Once.

About Friendship 

They say friends are the family you get to choose. They are wrong. Friends are nothing like family. The good ones atleast aren't. You are going to meet so many people when you are growing up that the concept of friendship will be fluid till your late teens. Just don't let TV shows or movies define the intricacies of it. All friendships differ and they rightly should. The "Bro-Codes" or " Things Good Friends Do" never were and never will be real. Don't change for them and don't let them change for you. My personal beliefs are simple-I just want honesty and loyalty in a true friendship. We maybe poles and planets apart. They can even think (blasphemously) the fifth Die Hard movie was Oscar-Worthy. As long as they are ready to bug you to make you smile when you want to cry, it's worth it. Trust Me.

I am also aware your modes of interaction with them will differ vividly from mine. They will be holograms, videos, texts in a new language or something still incomprehensible in 2014. I will humbly request you to meet them and "hangout"( an ancient social custom involving lethargically sitting and talking with one's friends in a public or private space or doing an activity) or simply call them. Nothing can replicate that experience.

About Love

What about love? What form of relationships will you even have in the hay days of your life as a teenager? They might not even be concrete enough to be classified as fake. But when you do have that first strike of love in your heart that is what interests me.
How will you know? You will. It is a remarkable irony that something so confusing offers you such pristine clarity at times. That is love. It is of many kinds but never the same. Cherish it when you have it but also beware of the pitfalls-Ego,Blindness and Self-Interest. You have to accept pain as a part of the bargain Son.
Remember, True love is relative. Sometimes people go through much heartbreak, not as shown in How I Met Your Mother (Seriously, don't watch it. Watch Friends), but quite a few. Every love feels real and true when you are in it. It is only when it ends and you experience love again, will you realize which one is true.

Lastly and importantly, there are many loves. There is the love of your parents. The love of your friends. The love of your siblings. The love of a kind stranger. We don't talk about them with much euphoria but they are always there. Don't ever forget them too.

Conclusion-The Glass Principle

At this point, you may have rolled your eyes in boredom and dismissed this as a simple rambling. I completely respect that. In that case, I humbly request you to do just one thing- Be Self-Aware.
Be aware of all that you do and the consequences. Be aware of the world around you. An ill-informed person is more dangerous than an illiterate. The news will have you believe the glass is half-empty. The late night comedian/sitcom will have you believe that the glass is half-full. I say, see the whole glass and use your own devices to arrive at a conclusion.
I also acknowledge the futility of this action. You have two individuals in your life who for me are the best parents anyone could hope for. They love you and will do anything to ensure you have the glorious life you deserve. I for my part will be ready to do the same. And no matter how old we get, I am always ready to watch Star Wars with you. Always.
                                                              The guy who flew you around in your nursery                                                                         and yet felt like he was Superman.

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