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A Letter to My 13-Year-Old Son

Dear Chaitanya,

Happy birthday! I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. It feels like just yesterday when you came into my life, filling it with great happiness.

Today, you stand on the threshold of your teenage years, and I am filled with pride and excitement for the incredible young man you are becoming.

You embark on this new chapter of your life, and like I have done with your sister in the past, and you have always complained about why I have never written to you, let me tell you that I waited all these years for the time I think you will understand the real meaning of what I am about to tell you.

I hope these words will guide you, inspire you, and remind you of what truly matters as you make your way into a wonderful, that’s also going to be sometimes challenging, journey ahead.

Let me start with a story about moths. Yes, moths!

You know, as I was growing up, and in the town I lived, it was not unusual to find a hoard of moths and other insects circling around a porch light or street lamp. I always assumed that such behaviour of moths was because they were drawn to the glow. It seemed so simple and obvious.

Some popular theories also suggested that moths navigate by the moon and mistake lamps for moonlight, or that the insects fly towards light to escape imminent danger.

But recently, I learned that scientists have discovered the real reason why moths behave this way. It turns out that moths and many other insects that fly at night evolved to tilt their back to wherever is brightest. For hundreds of millions of years, this was the sky rather than the ground. The trick told insects which way was up and ensured they flew level.

But then came artificial lighting. With fresh sources of illumination to contend, moths found themselves tilting their backs to street and porch lamps. This sent them into endless loops around the lamps, trapped by their evolutionary instincts.

When I read about this research recently, it made me think about how, sometimes in life, like moths, we can get caught up in things that seem important on the surface. We might chase after them, thinking they are what we truly want, only to realize later that they were just distractions.

It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters.

A moth flying in the darkness is guided by the natural light of the moon and stars. These celestial lights help it find its way, keeping it steady. But when the moth encounters a bright artificial light, it becomes confused. The light is so intense that it overwhelms the moth’s senses, and instead of continuing on its journey, the moth gets stuck, circling the light repeatedly. It’s as if the moth is mesmerized, forgetting its original purpose.

In many ways, we humans can be like moths. We all have our own paths to follow, guided by our dreams, values, and goals. But along the way, we encounter distractions — things that seem appealing and capture our attention. These distractions can come in many forms: the need for approval from others, desire for material possessions, or the pursuit of superficial success. They shine brightly, tempting us to change our direction.

But just like the moth, if we focus too much on these distractions, we can lose our way. We might end up going in circles, chasing after things that don’t truly matter, and forgetting what is really important. It’s crucial to stay mindful of our true goals and not be led astray by the bright but misleading lights around us.

Chaitanya, my lesson for you from the moth story is this. Always remember to stay true to yourself and what you believe in. It’s so easy to be influenced by others, especially in today’s world, where social media and peer pressure can often cloud our judgment.

Your inner light, your inner compass, values, and passions will guide you toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. Don’t let the noise of the world drown out your own voice. Trust in yourself and your instincts.

As you enter your teenage years, you’ll start to form deeper friendships and relationships. These bonds will play a significant role in your life. Choose your friends wisely, my son. Surround yourself with people who uplift you, challenge you to be better, and support you through thick and thin.

True friends are those who stand by your side, not just during the good times, but also during the tough times. Be a good friend in return, and cherish these relationships, as they will be a source of strength and joy throughout your life.

Another important lesson I want to share with you is about resilience. Life is a journey filled with ups and downs. There will be moments of triumph and moments of failure.

It’s natural to face obstacles and setbacks along the way. But what truly defines us is how we respond to these challenges.

Don’t be afraid to fail, Chaitanya. Failure is not the end but a stepping stone to success. Learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up, and keep moving forward. Every experience, good or bad, is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.

You love playing Minecraft, and you know how fast-paced that world is. Well, the real world out there is as fast-paced, if not less so. Amidst that, it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of success, whether it’s academic achievements, career goals, or material possessions.

While it’s important to work hard and strive for excellence, I want you to remember that success is not just measured by external accomplishments. True success lies in being a good person, showing kindness and empathy towards others, and positively impacting the world in whatever little way you can.

Always be mindful of how your actions affect those around you. Treat everyone with respect and compassion, regardless of their background or circumstances. A small act of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life.

When someone asked him to describe his life, my teacher Charlie Munger said, “I tried to be useful.” That should be your pursuit, too, Chaitanya. Instead of pursuing happiness, pursue usefulness, and you shall be happy in life.

I also want to discuss the importance of curiosity and lifelong learning. The world is full of wonders and mysteries waiting to be discovered – like the moth story I learned so late in my life, but only because I was a bit curious.

You are more curious than I was when I was your age. Never lose your sense of curiosity, and always be eager to learn new things.

Education is not confined to the walls of a classroom. It’s a lifelong journey of exploration and growth. Read widely, ask questions, seek knowledge, and never stop learning.

Embrace new experiences and be open to different perspectives. The more you learn, the more you will understand the world and your place in it.

Finally, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in life is the power of gratitude. It’s easy to take things for granted and focus on what we lack rather than what we have. But practicing gratitude can transform our outlook on life.

Take a moment each day, starting today, to reflect on the things you are grateful for, whether it’s your family, your friends, your health, or the simple joys of life. Gratitude shifts our focus from what is missing to what is present, leading us to a sense of contentment and happiness.

As you get deeper into your teenage years, you’ll also start thinking about your future and the kind of life you want to build. It’s okay to dream big and set ambitious goals for yourself. But remember, success is not a race. It’s a personal journey, and everyone’s path is different.

Take your time to explore your interests and passions. Don’t be afraid to try new things and step out of your comfort zone. The world is full of opportunities, and it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

I want you to know that you are never alone. Life can sometimes feel overwhelming, and it’s okay to seek help and support when you need it. Whether it’s talking to family, friends, or a mentor, don’t hesitate to reach out.

We are all here to support you and guide you through the challenges you may face. You have a strong support system, and you can always count on us.

Your name, Chaitanya, holds a deep and powerful meaning — consciousness. It embodies awareness, understanding, and a profound sense of being. Consciousness is what sets us apart, allowing us to reflect, to be aware of our thoughts and actions, and to seek higher truths. It’s a reminder to live mindfully, to be present in each moment, and to make choices that align with your true self.

As you celebrate being thirteen, I want you to know how incredibly proud I am of you.

You are kind, intelligent, and full of potential. Embrace the journey ahead with confidence and an open heart. Stay true to yourself, cherish your relationships, and never lose sight of what truly matters.

Happy birthday, Chaitanya.

Here’s to a year filled with joy, growth, and new adventures.

I love you more than words can express.

– Papa

Source of all images: Midjourney

The post A Letter to My 13-Year-Old Son appeared first on Safal Niveshak.



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