More To That

An illustrated, long-form blog that delves deeper into the things that make us who we are.

A Letter to My Newborn Daughter

Hey there, little one.

baby daughter illustration drawing

Welcome to the world.

family out in the world cartoon illustration

I know things may feel a bit overwhelming for you right now, given all the new sounds, sights, and sensations you’re experiencing. But for the time being, your world is going to be quite small, and your needs will be pretty simple. Our home will be the only place that matters for the next few months, and as long as you’re eating and sleeping, life will carry on just beautifully.

baby drinking from bottle

But pretty soon, you’re going to have all kinds of interesting experiences.

You’re going to see different places, meet new faces, and feel a wide range of emotions. You’ll find out that there’s more to life than just eating and sleeping, and that there’s a lot out there to explore.

You’ll understand that Mom, Dad, and you are just a tiny, tiny part of a much, much larger and complicated place.

And it is this big world that I want to tell you a little bit about today.

looking out into the world cartoon illustration

There are so many people out there that you will someday meet. They don’t know who you are yet, and you don’t know them either, but these people will one day be your friends, your classmates, your romantic interests, your neighbors, your teachers, the list goes on.

One of the first lessons you’ll learn is that we all want certain things, but we can’t have everything we want. And the way you respond to this reality is what builds character.

You’ll experience this relatively soon, but let’s say that you’re playing with a toy that another child next to you wants. When that happens, your first instinct will be to be protective of what you have, and to keep the toy all for yourself. You’ll think that if you give it up, then it’s no longer yours, and that you had to sacrifice something that was so precious to you.

But in reality, the best thing for you to do here is to be kind. Kindness is the ability to trade personal gain for mutual trust. By being kind and sharing your toy, you are telling the other child, “Hey. I want to play with this toy too, but by sharing it, I want us to both be able to have fun together now, and also sometime in the future.” By being selfless, you are extending an invitation to enjoy the moment together, and are assuring the other person that you can expect a similar experience if your paths happen to cross again.

Kindness is what builds friendships. It’s what creates long-lasting partnerships. It is the force that develops trust between you and others, and when it comes to relationships, trust is everything.

kids sharing a toy together cartoon illustration

The best thing about kindness is that there is no limit to how much you can share, and there is no shortage of people that need it. This leads me to another important thing to remember:

Not everyone is as fortunate to have what you have. The fact that you were born into a loving community places you in a position of abundant opportunity that many others don’t have.

Keep this in mind when you encounter people that you believe are undeserving of your kindness or generosity. While it’s tempting to write these people off immediately, remember that their life experiences are completely different from yours. Just because you don’t understand someone’s behavior doesn’t mean that you are right, and they are wrong. They may not have had the same kind of support network you were born into, or their network simply had values that translated into a wildly different worldview.

Trying to see their side of the story is another form of kindness that has less to do with sharing, and more to do with listening.

listening to each other drawing illustration

At this point, you might be thinking that eating and sleeping sounds like a far easier life, eh?

I totally get it. It all sounds like a lot to take in, and it may feel like learning more about the world just introduces more issues that you have to sort through. However, this points to another important thing you’ll realize:

What makes life interesting are its challenges, not its comforts. This is one of those funny things that will only make sense once you live through it.

This is why Mom and Dad won’t give you everything you want, even if we’re more than capable of giving it. Life is weird in that you can desire something a lot, but you’ll value it far less if you didn’t have to work for it. The reward is far less important than the lessons you had to learn to get it, and this holds true for almost everything.

So if you get frustrated that we’re not giving you what you want, it’s not because we want you to suffer. It’s because we’d rather show you a glimpse of what the world is really like, and not hide you from a reality that you will inevitably experience anyway.

You’ll soon understand the value of challenges (you’re going to learn how to crawl in a few months!), but one important nuance to keep in mind is that not all challenges are created equal.

Being challenged by an interesting problem is very different from being challenged by an uninteresting one. If you are working through worthwhile problems, you’ll learn the most because your curiosity is shining bright, and this light will give you the resilience required to traverse difficult yet meaningful journeys. But if your challenge is about fighting off boredom while working on something you could care less about, no reward will matter much in the end.

You’ll one day learn that money is one of these rewards people get for their work. While it’s important to understand that making money requires various tradeoffs of time and energy, just remember this: Making a lot of money doing something you hate will be far less rewarding than making enough money doing something you love.

Freedom is achieved by clearly defining what “enough” means, and by keeping it there even after you’ve reached it. This allows curiosity – and not money – to be the guiding principle behind why you do the things you do.

Only then can you dive deeply into the challenges that you can’t stop thinking about.

diving deep into challenges and problems

Speaking of thought, this leads to another important thing I wanted to share with you:

The most valuable resource you have is not money, not your time, but the way you spend your attention. The way you use your mind will color the way you view the world, so be mindful of the information and people you are in regular contact with.

By surrounding yourself with people you love, you build a world where you are loved. By applying yourself to worthwhile challenges, you live a life where everything is meaningful. By choosing to see the good in humanity, you feel empowered to live up to that standard.

There will be many forces fighting for your attention, and the greatest skill to cultivate is discerning what to allow, and what to disregard. Mom and Dad can help you navigate that in the beginning, but ultimately, this is something you’ll have to figure out for yourself as you grow up and meet more people.

Your attention is precious, so be wary of those that try to cheapen it or game it for themselves. By protecting your most valuable resource, you respect the power of your thoughts, and are made aware of what those thoughts are capable of accomplishing.

hugging the mind cartoon illustration

As your dad, I understand that I’m going to have a lot of your attention in the beginning. My voice will be a loud one, as I’m going help guide you through all kinds of life problems. It’s going to seem like I have all the answers, and that I’ll know all the right things to say at all the right moments.

But this is short-lived.

The reality is that Dad is very flawed, and Dad doesn’t know nearly as much as you once thought. You’ll realize this over time, especially as you expand your circle of friends, loved ones, and people that you admire. And as all those voices grow in influence, it’s only inevitable that mine will decrease in volume. What you once took as certainties from me will merely become suggestions, and to be clear, this is perfectly normal. You don’t ever have to feel bad about that, as that’s just what happens as your world grows.

All I can hope for is that you’ll continue to interpret my voice as a positive one; one that you can always come to when you need a reminder of how much you are loved. Because if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that. Mom and Dad will be here for you, no matter what.

family hugging each other drawing illustration

In the meantime, your world is a much simpler place. Eating and sleeping is all you need to do, and our home is all that matters. There are many diapers to be changed, and much sleep to be interrupted.

But regardless of what’s going on, know that we are so grateful to have you in our lives.

Love,
Dad

_______________




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