I have told you the story every year… the same one every time. When I graduated from high school, my father caught me after I had delivered a graduation speech for my class of 500 and before I headed out to all the graduation parties. He asked, “So, Brandon, do you feel different now that you have graduated from high school?” “Not really,” was my answer. And so the story goes. College. Marriage. But then there was you, and the answer changed because now there was someone I would jump in front of a bus for…
At the time of your birth, I was still under the spell of trying to change the world. I was still toying with the idea of being a great novelist, having just let go of the dream of being a scientist who would discover the cure for cancer… or something like that. I kept wondering what my contribution to the world would be… what my mark would be. Would it be a book that I wrote? Would it be a lecture I gave at a conference? A story I told at a festival?
Over the years I have written a book or two, and given a paper at a conference or two, and even told stories at festivals, but none of these things even added together make a contribution worthy of anything like what I had dreamed for myself… but there is one thing.
I have seen you take the stage at the Moth in Berkeley, and I have seen your TED talk. I have read stories you have published, and articles you have written. With each passing year you are becoming more confident, more eloquent, and gaining a wider influence on everything around you. You have already accomplished everything that I have in my lifetime, and that makes me feel…
… happier than if I had achieved my own dream. It was like when I hit a home run in baseball. I thought I was on top of the world, until I saw Byron hit his first… and second… and third, etc. There is nothing that makes a parent happier than to see their child surpass them at everything they do. I can live out my years content that you, Clara, are on your way… that the world actually might be changed by you, and that the gift of you will be my greatest accomplishment.
The important thing to remember is that you do not need to keep reaching for something that you need to do or need to learn… that you are already doing what you were meant to be doing. It is already happening, and, although you cannot see it, I certainly do. I spent a wonderful afternoon with your grandfather recently… just know that both of us see you and everything that you do… and that you carry us both forward into the world you are changing one day at a time, forever.
Clara's 24th Birthday, December 10, 2022