I saved and just reread a letter dated 8-3-90 that I wrote to my stepson who was 15 at the time. I met him when he was 12. He is super-intelligent and he wrote me a quizzical note about my search for meaning and happiness. I do not have that note, but I have my reply. This is a short excerpt from the 2-page typewritten letter that I thought was worth sharing. This was over 30 years ago.
“Seeing what we can do while we are on this planet is part of what it is all about. Happiness is one of those nice words that lack sufficient meaning to be used alone except in literature. What makes happiness? Well, it is an individual definition first. It is very personal. Second, it is not an end result as in a destination, but an attitude, a feeling, a oneness with the moment of now–it is the journey.
Joy and happiness are not even the same things. I can find joy in doing something that is causing me frustration at the moment. Think about your workouts and the pain of the moment when pushing the weights and your body is crying out for rest, yet there is joy overall from the experience. You can have joy in pain. Can you have happiness in pain then?
If one is looking for meaning, one will find it within and not outside or in things or accomplishments. The closer we get to finding our true self, the closer we come to our Creator and our true meaning. Many things on the outside are parts of the road map to within.
…I do enjoy life. Not the way you do…What brings you happiness, joy, contentment, a sense of purpose, meaning, will be very personally yours. Though some of our values and principles will co-mingle, many may not, and there should be no shame in this, for again, we are not the same. I appreciate the differences. Were we the same, this communication would be totally unnecessary and I am enjoying the opportunity.
When I give it more than superficial thought, I realize that I am happy, that I do enjoy life, that it has meaning for me. Much of that comes from knowing you and being a part of your life. You are one of the most unique people I have ever had the pleasure to meet and be with. Though our relationship has been of a certain type based on circumstance and personality and experience, I feel your touch and importance beyond the day-to-day supervisory, teaching, guiding capacity. I love you very much and I respect and admire you. You indeed add meaning to my life. Thank you for the notes. I appreciate them. Love, Terry"