For My Grandson on His First Month.

At a little over 72 hours old, you haven’t really accomplished much. You managed to pee on your mother, a doctor and a nurse and you slept a lot. For now, that is pretty good.

There are a few things you should know. Most of the information you will need will come from other people, especially at first. Right now, you can’t see well, you don’t speak English and you don’t really even know you exist. But in a while, you’ll begin to recognize that certain things you see, smell and hear are comforting to you and they help you with stuff. That would be the humans you call your parents and your sister. Stick with them. They’re pretty cool.

You may notice that each human you meet will come equipped with a small electronic device that will have all of the funny videos and opinions you will ever need. In addition, the humans will also have their own opinions and if you are around them long enough, they will share them all with you. When you are old enough, you will be given one of these devices. My advice to you is this: try to learn to put it down from time to time and look up at the sky. There’s birds up there and moons and clouds and airplanes. And if you look down, you’ll see dirt and dog poop and worms and cool fish and old chewing gum and your own feet. There is a lot to see.

There is information everywhere but there are a few questions that have difficult to find answers and you will encounter these questions as you grow. They include, but are not limited to: “How does one obtain and retain happiness?” and “What is the meaning of life?” I’ll cover the big chunks briefly and for the details, please ask your parents.

Part One: How to Be Happy

For happiness, here’s the formula: Have an impactful public life and an unremarkable private life. How you achieve this is totally up to you. But in my short 48 years of life, it is the lack of these two things or failure in the pursuit of these two things that causes people to be unhappy. Therefore, if you have them, you will be happy. Simple? Yes. If your presence in the world makes a change for the better in the outside world and no one is compelled to interfere with your home-life, you are going to be a pretty happy dude.

Part One, Subsection A: The Stuff Everyone Wants to See

For an impactful public life, you will have a lot of options. Folks will tell you that it is about money (which is important for buying socks and food) and they will also tell you it is about how many other humans want to be around you. These are important factors but they are not the final goal. Help someone with something every day. That is what makes for an impactful public life. You can be poor as dirt and have no friends and still have a positive impact on life. I know a lot of wealthy and powerful folks who have totally wrecked things for a lot of people. Don’t believe me? Look at any War, Genocide or Electronic Music Festival. They take a lot of money and people to do any of those things and nothing good has ever come from them.

Most people miss out on having an impactful public life because they think their impact must have explosions or dollar signs or scripty letters or fancy labels on it. When people are YOUR age or a little older, they come up with these great goals like growing up to be a dog or making it so everyone has enough food to eat. But then we get entranced by “realistic career goals” and we give up. That is why no one grows up to be a dog and people are starving everywhere. Growing up is a distraction from real happiness. Try to avoid it. Be a little kid, or a dog or end world hunger and just get a career as a sideline.

Most people don’t achieve this because they want too much stuff or they argue too much or they try to love the wrong people or eat a lot of drugs or booze or can’t change the world without yelling or hitting. (someone will fill you in soon on the rules about yelling and hitting. They cover that early.) There will always be jobs and ways to make enough money for socks and food. But there is a shortage of good people that help someone every day. It doesn’t pay well but if you follow the next step, the money won’t seem like such a problem.

Part One Subsection B: The Stuff No One Wants to See

The other component to obtaining and retaining happiness is have a private life that is unremarkable. This is going to be really confusing for the first 30 years of your life or more. First, it is because you are a little kid and everyone is going to be “all up in your business.” Other folks are going to tell you what to eat, they’ll grab your feet, they’ll look at and talk to each other about your poop. As you get older though, you’ll learn to poop without telling everyone about it. You will learn to close doors and think for yourself and you will learn your name.

Remember those electronic boxes filled with opinions I was talking about earlier? When other humans have a thought but don’t want to take time to figure out if it is true or not, it is called an opinion. Right now, they are pretty important to a lot of people. Other humans will make their thoughts about you known to you in many different ways. This will sometimes make you feel good and sometimes it will not. That’s why what people think of you can be kind of important. They can be helpful in helping you grow. BUT, that is only temporary.

Eventually, you will know who you are and what you are good at and you’ll have your own thoughts about your poop and folks will stop grabbing your feet for no reason. And if you are OK with how things are going it will feel good. This is called “loving yourself.” It is a big deal.

However, when a lot of people learn to love themselves, they figure they have to tell everyone else about it . And so they share it with everyone around them. (opinions) Lot’s of people get upset when the things they love about themselves aren’t the same as the stuff the guy sitting next to them loves. Here’s where it gets weird: many humans try to make the other humans just like themselves. This never ends well. (It does explain stuff like Wars, Genocide, Fashion, Drugs and Popular Music.) Refer to Subsection A. The thing to remember here is love yourself but don’t expect everyone else to. The rest is just details.

There y’go kid. I just told you the formula for happiness.

Part Two: The Meaning of Life.

This part is easy. Life is the meaning of life. Folks don’t like that answer for a lot of reasons. Mostly because of the fact that life includes healthy doses of pain, inequity, embarrassment and gross foods (like carrots and other things that aren’t cake) that paradoxically allow you to live longer while making you make gross food faces. Life is complex and uncertain and that is where its meaning is hidden. It is just that life is meant to be experienced, carrots and all. Life is in your Mom and Dad’s faces and in the birds up above, the worms down below and the opinions that fill the spaces between. So when you are alive, go see everyone else’s lives. Experience and touch and taste all the things (ask your mom first please) and meet all the people and find out how they get along, where they get their socks from and whether they have enough to eat. Maybe they’ll tell you a story. Maybe they’ll help you find a lake to play in. Maybe they will share a song with you. Maybe you’ll want to hold their hand and never let go.

And yeah, it may all end really suddenly.

But that is what makes you precious.

So, for now, get some of those gross motor skills under control, learn to hold your head up (literally and figuratively) stop peeing on everyone end enjoy being small enough to be picked up and carried. Because you have a LOT of walking ahead of you.