Mom’s Value Menu



Dear son,

I can’t believe you’re going to turn 13 this year! In no time at all, you will be an adult. Ack! Part of me is stoked to see who you will become, and part of me wants to command thee to stop aging, because you’re awesome now just as you are! But alas – grow you shall. As my friend Hunter said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” You’re on it, kid! And puberty! Oh… I don’t envy you. Thank gawd I don’t have to go through that again.

I mean… you’ll be fine. It’s not awkward at all. 😳

It’s hard for me to remember what I wanted to be and do with my life when I turned 13. I think I had just moved to Flour Bluff, Texas – and what a culture shock that was. To go from beautiful Hawaii to what looked like the armpit of the Gulf of Mexico. I laughed to see surfers trying to catch 2-foot waves on the polluted, disgusting, man-o-war-infested oil slick they tried to trick tourists into believing was a “beach”.

Yep – life looked pretty bleak for me back then. I didn’t think I’d ever fit in – but in no time at all, I made lots of friends, and have only fond memories of my time there. That’s where I met Ronda! We were the same age as the “Stranger Things” kids during the same year. It’s pretty trippy that you’re into the same music I was into at that age. We’ll have the same touchstones. And hey! Winona Ryder was there, too!


Where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be. That’s the way I feel right now here on the beautiful Palouse, and for the first time in a long time. BUT – as you will frequently find in life – we don’t always get to call all the shots. Not to sound morbid, but the only thing that’s really “fair” in life is that we’re all going to die one day. Natural laws are “fair”, but human laws? Sometimes they seem specifically designed to produce the most unfair outcome imaginable.

The other constant? We will find bullies wherever we go. You can’t change that, but you can change how you react to them.

There’s another Buddhist teaching that took me forever to understand, and really I’m still figuring it out. It says:

“In this age as well, it is not one’s allies, but one’s powerful enemies who assist one’s progress.”

That was super-confusing to me at first, but I ate that stuff up in my late 20’s. I couldn’t study enough! I was rarely encouraged to think for myself when I was growing up, so it was a real treat. I always thought I was more comfortable with being told what to do. I thought it made me “safer”, but really all it did was make me shy and insecure.

Yeah! Me!

Everyone who knew me back then would have said that about me, but I just didn’t know what my values were. I had no idea who I really was until I hit age 30, which I’ve discovered is the same for most everybody.

Now is when you start to figure out who you are, what you stand for. When you do, no one can take that away from you. They call them “values” because they are valuable, and you mustn’t let anyone take them from you, no matter how hard they try. Without your values, you’re just an empty bag of bones, walking around pretending to be a man. That’s no fun! I have a strong feeling that this will never be your fate.

Yep – Buddhism kept throwing all sorts of weird and mystical questions my way, and expected me to figure out what it all meant. As it turns out, when I’m encouraged to think for myself about things like “my powerful enemies” – in my world, that was George W. Bush. It didn’t matter that I was just a nobody. In my world, Dubya and I could totally hang. Why not? He’s just a guy from Texas. I know tons of those dudes. Rich ones, too. I didn’t see what the big deal was.

Those were the thoughts going through my head when I decided to do the walk, and I had lots more time to think about what it all meant while I was doing it. And do you know what? It’s all true. The worst people in the world are probably the only ones who can inspire us to do great things with our lives – if only out of spite at first. You create value from the bullies by believing in yourself – that you alone can help them, because doing harm to others is pretty lame. Know that with a strong spirit of determination, you can turn your greatest enemy into your best friend. But you gotta practice at that! It doesn’t come easily. There’s still people out there who infuriate me to no end. (TRUMP!)

Now I’m just telling you my philosophy. It might not necessarily speak to you, and you’ll eventually find your own thing – but just know that you have to find your thing, and ultimately you’re going to have to find it on your own. No one can do it for you! I’ll try to give you the tools you need to help you figure it out, but this is your life, babe. You don’t get another! Make it count. Bring value to the world with everything you do. The ones who don’t figure this out by the time they’re an adult often fall into very bad habits of behavior. You’ll encounter a few of those folks in life. I have some tricks on how to deal with them.

I’ll save that lesson for next time. What did you say about the box of my letters you have now?

“To read them all would be like reading Lord of the Rings“?

That’s pretty funny, dude. You’re a funny guy! Just one of your many brilliant qualities.

Remember – wherever you are is where you’re supposed to be. And here’s another wacko sentence for you to ponder:

“You should regard the appearance of obstacles as peace and comfort.”

What the heck does that mean?! I don’t know! You tell me! I am challenging you, sir – and it’s totally not a sly tactic to get you to write me back. But really – write me back, dude! You need to practice. Writing is a very good skill to have, and takes years of practice. You’ll REALLY find out how valuable it is in college.

Love you more than coffee!

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