It goes without saying, some of us baby boomers are still finding ourselves, if not actually finding our way any more in the world. That’s what Dr. William Courter of Cato de Caza, California, founder of the Boomer Health Institute, writes about in this piece for BoomerCafé. And he draws upon the advice he would have given his growing daughters for the advice we all might still need today.
Remember Our Advice To Our Kids In College?
My newest book, A Father’s Letters, is a collection of heartfelt, late night letters that I wrote to my daughters during their college years, offering my support, love, and of course, advice. In one letter, I provided my own imaginary graduation speech. Do you remember your recommendations to your college children? Do they still fit our needs, as we grow older?
I would have started my speech with Russell Conwell’s sermon “Acres of Diamonds.” I would have told them how Ali Hafed sold his farm, left his family, and searched for wealth, and how he explored Africa, Asia, and Europe, looking for diamonds, but finally committed suicide in Spain, distraught and penniless. I would have explained how the new owner of Ali Hafed’s farm stumbled across hundreds of large rocks beneath the dirt. Those rocks proved to be diamonds, and Ali Hafed’s prior land produced one of the world’s largest diamond mines.
Each graduating student is like Ali Hafed, leaving the farm and venturing into the world. Many will search for money, traveling to distant locations and working long hours. Here is the hidden truth: You do not need to travel the world to find wealth. It is right at your feet, buried within yourself. Your real wealth is not your money, your fame, or your acclaim; it is your level of happiness. How do you establish happiness? One clue: It’s not an acquisition; it’s a skill. I believe that each person is born with a special gift. For happiness, you need to first find, develop, and share your special gift with the world.
For that pursuit, I would have explained the Indonesian monkey trap, describing how natives create a hollow coconut, stake it to the ground, and then fill it with rice or peanuts, and how the monkey will squeeze a hand through the small opening, clench the goodies, and then be unable to pull the larger fist back out through the opening. The monkey pulls and pulls without success, waiting to be captured. Many of us are like those monkeys. Too often, we allow ourselves to be trapped, holding on to the wrong goodies. Financial rewards, a certain lifestyle, even some careers, can be traps.
That’s where Ali Hafed went wrong. He failed to realize that happiness comes from friends, not from possessions. Friendship and love are still the most important components of anyone’s life. First, you need to find and share your gift. But second, you also need the people you love (and who love you) to be around that gift. Those people are the true goodies of life. Take them along on your life journey. Friendships, not a handful of diamonds, are the real reward for a life well lived. Just remember Emily Dickinson’s quote: “My friends are my estate.”
Now, isn’t that advice as true today for us, as it was for our college-aged children?