This will sound pretty silly to some but during my morning reading the other day, I came across a short letter from a father to his sons that struck a tender nerve in me. Larry Carlat, blogging on a great site called “Purple Clover” that I like, wrote “A Love Letter to My Sons.” In doing so, he makes it clear the letter is “about stuff nobody ever took the time to tell me about and I wish somebody had.”
Oh, lordy, I wish somebody had taken the time to tell me about it, too. Understand, I am now in my mid-60s and still haven’t the foggiest clue. You see, Larry tries to tell his boys about love. He seems to struggle, which I deeply appreciate. Anybody can look back on my life and plainly see I have had darn little success with it.
Obviously there are different types and sizes of love. I read somewhere else last week that a little girl asked her older brother about love as they were walking home from school and her brother summed it up pretty nicely, “Love is allowing you to steal candy from my backpack,” he grinned, “and always leaving it in the same place instead of trying to hide it somewhere you can’t find it.”
No, this is more than that. It is about having the ability to love a woman. And while I suspect Larry might have let one or two women that he once cherished get away from him like I have, his letter made all the sense in the world to me. Here is what Larry Carlat wrote to his boys:
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Dear Rob and Zach,
I think it’s finally time for us to have “the talk.”
I don't mean the sex talk that we had when you guys were teenagers, which was basically a friendly reminder to just keep the thing covered, and I don’t remember any more than that because the awkwardness of it traumatized me almost as much as it traumatized you, and also at the time, you were probably having more sex than I was anyway, so who was I to talk?
This talk is more important, since you guys are older and I am older (great for you, not as great for me) and it’s about the most important thing in life. I know it’s gonna sound incredibly corny, but indulge me on this because I know someday you’ll also think it’s important. Nobody ever took the time to tell me about this stuff and I wish somebody had, although it’s unlikely I would’ve listened, just like it’s unlikely that you guys will listen to me now.
It’s about love (Ew!). And I know you guys have already experienced a taste of it, which puts you far ahead of where I was at your age, but my guess is there may be some things you don’t know about it, as there are still some things I don’t know and may never know. That’s just a disadvantage of being a dude.
The first thing is simple. Don’t ever take love for granted. It doesn’t happen too often, so when it does come around, treat it the way you would treat the most precious thing you own, whatever that is. This won’t be difficult in the beginning because this is all you will naturally want to do, but over time, other things like work and life can get in the way. So what I’m saying is — don’t let it.
The second thing is also simple. When you find someone you love, tell her! Don’t be a typical jerk who doesn’t express his emotions and keeps everything bottled up inside and only says the L-word badly, scrawled inside of a birthday card or in response to when it’s said to you. Say the word every day and before you go to sleep at night. Most times, you’ll mean it from the bottom of your heart. Sometimes you’ll say it and won’t be able to feel it as deeply, but say it anyway. Say it, say it, say it.
The third thing is as simple as the first two. Let love breathe. When you find someone you love and who loves you, don’t hold on too tightly. You’ll need to figure out when to hold on and when to let go and the best advice I can give you here is to hold on when you think you should let go and let go when you think you should hold on. I wish I could tell you why this works, but I don’t know why myself and it’s really not that important, the why.
What’s important is that all these things about love are so simple and obvious yet also complicated and ambiguous. The main reason I’m writing this to you is because I want you to have more love in your life than I’ve had in mine because you are my most precious things.
And I know this all sounds so dad-like and corny but there it is.
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I don’t know exactly why but Larry’s Carlat’s letter to his sons about love is absolutely spectacular.