A Boy’s Journey

My oldest son graduated high school.  For me…a hard reality.  I see a cherub…and it will probably always be that way for me.  But to others, he is very nearly a man.  How do you teach a boy to be a man…and how will he know what it means to be a man?

Time will pass for him, and with that comes experience.  But if there is no basis or foundation, what understanding is drawn from it?  If he is searching for something, it is unlikely he will be able to find what he seeks if he doesn’t know what it looks or feels like.  And when it comes to men and being a man, there is always searching, questioning and measuring.

The journey is a long one, and there are many obstacles.  If you are lucky, you have a father to talk to, a voice to guide you, and help you stay on your path.   For others…there is only you and what you have been told, observed and been taught.

While there are MANY things I want to share with my son, I read something recently that simply and elegantly delivers the message I want share.  As you read it, you cannot help but to measure it against your own experience…and to help you answer your own questions.

I read this years ago…in high school.  I did NOT understand it.  I did NOT care about it.  But I do remember it…and now I know what it means.  I will share this with both of my sons.  They won’t understand much of it.  But there will soon come a time where they will have to make some tough decisions, or deal with some difficulty, and they will question themselves.   Reading this now may help give them some framework.

Special thanks to Jerome Knyszewksi for posting this poem on LinkedIn  A great measuring tool to keep you on your own path.



(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)


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