A couple weeks ago, my younger son had his bar mitzvah. I’ll post more about what it meant to our family, but I wanted to pass along my words to him. Part of my job as family multimedia manager was to build the video montage of his first 13 years. It felt a bit short and even generic since it’s not all that difficult to patch together a series of pictures and put some music to it. It came out really nice, but most people have their own story in pictures and it can be hard to ascertain what kind of person they really are from it – especially if they’re young. A picture may be worth a thousand words and music adds some emotion, but I wanted to add my thoughts on who he is and who he can become.
I’m admittedly something of a JJ Abrams geek, hence the Bad Robot spin in the drawing above. My son goes to a school that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. It’s a great atmosphere and many of his classmates plus the principal were at the bar mitzvah. They’re the most diverse group of children I’ve ever been around and represent a wide variety of races, cultures, religions, and family backgrounds. The students have very positive attitudes and cheer geekdom. They encourage each other where a typical environment brings to mind visions of possible bullying. Instead, they learn how to work together and achieve even more. You’d better believe that I see this as a positive for his future. Oh, he’s on a robotics team which my wife coaches and they advanced in a recent competition. The coding, project tasks, and teamwork required to deliver is impressive.
Part of his talent is seeing how different pieces of a scenario fit together. My wife and I have always had to stay one step ahead of him when discussing things in the house. Being able to intuit what’s going on around you and understand outcomes is a terrific skill to have. There are times he doesn’t focus and there are times when he does. When he applies himself, it’s surprising what a 13 year old can grasp.
He’s also loves to be comfortable. These are his PJ’s and he’d stay in them all day if we didn’t call him on it. He also tends to like simple foods even if it’s something like sushi. There’s nothing better to him than a delicious steak. Knowing what you like in life can be a good driver to keep you focused. I advise him to always branch out and try new things, but that there’s nothing wrong with setting goals which give you pleasure in the outcomes.
His imagination is boundless but it’s grounded too. Once when he was playing Minecraft, he designed a satellite. It had solar panels and dedicated functions for major components. It went into orbit. He also designed a rocket to provide transport to it. Of course, the rocket had to have a launch station with a mission control center. I love the creativity but I also love the thought which goes into building systems which have real thought put into them. Having vision is one thing, understanding how to get there is yet another.
Just like Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben told him: With great power comes great responsibility. He’s got a responsibility to himself to achieve what’s in his reach and to never stop trying. Even if something feels comfortable, and it will, stopping can mean settling. Never be afraid to push yourself and don’t compromise when a choice may be easy but have a bad outcome. Results are always important and who or what they impact is always something to account for.