If you were sitting on the edge of the bed of your son or daughter the night before they left home for good, what advice would you give them as they face “Day One” on their own? That is the “Edge of the Bed Question”. We’ve posed it to as many people as we can, and share their insights here.
Today’s contributor is a marketer, promoter, writer, and fundraiser – adding value to countless organizations and initiatives. He’s also one of the most naturally kind and funny people walking the planet – probably because he’s from the finest part of Canada: Cape Breton Island. Here’s a fantasy conversation from Adam Langer:
Adam’s Edge of the Bed Advice:
“There are No Easy Answers.”I
n trying to determine what life advice I would give my child before they were about to leave home for good, I struggled. How do I give the important rules to live life by when I haven’t figured them out for sure myself? Even if I have an inclination or a strong feeling, how do I know that’s right for my child? Or that it’s even right at all? And, probably most importantly, when the hell did I have a kid?
I decided that the best way to answer some of these questions was to have an actual conversation on the matter. I tried to borrow children, but, just so you know, that doesn’t work. Unless what you’re trying to accomplish is verbal abuse and threats, because if that’s the case, it works incredibly well.
As such, I decided to invent a non-existent child with whom to have a hypothetical conversation in order to really discover what I would say to someone I cared about. Everyone, meet Casey.
Me: Yes, child-to-whom-I-gave-a-unisex-name-in-order-to-increase-the-chance-that-someone-hearing-this-conversation-would-find-it-relatable?
Casey: I’m nervous. I’m worried about what the future is going to be like, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle it.
Me: Yes you can, Casey. You’re strong. You’re persistent. You defy odds.
Casey: Really? Why do you say that?
Me: Because I have literally spent my entire adult life being incredibly careful and aware in order to prevent you from existing, and yet here you are!
Casey: So… I wasn’t planned?
Casey: …anyways, I’m really nervous. What should I do?
“That’s what you want, but it’s not what you need”
Me: Well Casey, if you’re looking for a specific, universally applicable rule that will give you all of the answers, I can’t give you one. Nor can I simply provide you with a saying or a quote that you should live your life by. There isn’t a simple, easy answer or rule that can make everything ok.
Casey: But that’s what I need!
Me: No, that’s what you want, but it’s certainly not what you need, and searching for it will leave you feeling like you failed. It doesn’t exist, and that’s a good thing.
Casey: A good thing? How is that a good thing?
Me: It’s a good thing because it means that any answers you find will be tailored completely and totally to you and your life. It means that we don’t live in a boring world where everyone tries to accomplish the same thing. And, most importantly, it means that the process of finding these answers makes you a stronger person. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to those who give advice; in fact, I’m encouraging the opposite. Listen to as many opinions as you possibly can on any topic, but don’t simply take them as fact. Think about them, internalize them, and make your own opinion. You’ll find that learning from other people’s experiences is less about simply doing what they say to do, and all about thinking about what they did and trying to relate their experiences or thoughts to you. You will also learn more about who you are and who you truly want to be.
Casey: This sounds an awful lot like an easy answer or a rule…
There isn’t a simple, easy answer or rule that can make everything ok … Searching for it will leave you feeling like you failed. It doesn’t exist, and that’s a good thing.
Me: It may, but if you think about it and decide whether or not it makes sense to you, then it’s something more. It becomes a process that will lead you to a better understanding of yourself.
Casey: That makes sense. Thanks, Dad.
Me: No problem, Casey. Always remember to give 110%. Put it all out there. The impossible is often the untried.
Casey: You’re just speaking in bad quotes, now. This completely goes against what you’ve been teaching me.
Me:… six of one, half a…
Casey: Stop. Thanks for the talk, Dad.
Me: No problem, son. I know you’ll grow up just fine.
Casey:…I’m a girl.
Me: Lesson number two: sometimes you bet on red and it lands on black.
I’m going to be a horrible father.
Give Adam a follow on Twitter at @AdamLanger.