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Read Letter

Revenge Never Satisfies

My dear Jack, if you knew you had just one day to live what would you do? Yes, I know young people don’t think about mortality. There’s the assumption of eternal life, like life is stretched out before you like a red carpet. Yet one has to live circumspectly and use his time wisely.

Life is a credit facility we draw down on a daily basis. It’s denominated in time. But then knowing that, one must live purposefully. You must purpose your life. And so I ask you once more, what would you do if you had just one day left to live? Would you spend the time in fights, hatred and bitterness, or reconcile with everyone you know so you can depart in peace? Would you not reconcile with your dad? You have reached an impassé in your relationship with him.

You’re at that point you have to present your girlfriend to him but you can’t. And your girlfriend is wondering. Life is too short to be wasted on bitterness. You have a whole lot in front of you, God granting you life. You have this wonderful babe who loves you with all her heart. But you can’t give yourself to her and enjoy the full potential of your relationship because there’s darkness within you. And I’m afraid of that darkness. I worry that someday you will unleash it against the woman who loves you. Darkness is non-discriminatory in affliction. Rage is blind. And this fight with your dad is a fight you cannot win. Even if you win it’s going to be pyrrhic victory. Even the Richard Gere character in Pretty Woman didn’t find solace in buying his father’s company and breaking it up piece by piece.

Revenge never satisfies. After the act, we’re left with ourselves, what we’ve become. And I don’t even see how you can move against your dad. He’s too powerful for you. You can hurt him but you can’t break him. And you’ll pay a price you can’t afford for vengeance. No one can afford it. There’s a reason the good Lord says, vengeance is mine. There are things humans can’t handle constitutionally. And is being vengeful towards your dad worth breaking your future marriage? Anger turns us green even if we’re not Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk. Your emotional colour can never remain the same.

You’re going to have your own family. You have a chance to do right by YOUR family. You have a chance to do better than your dad. Yes, I know he left all of you when you were young. But you made it to the other side. You’re your own man now. So what are you going to do with your capacities and capabilities: focus those energies on attainment or towards revenge? I think you should listen to your girlfriend. She’s talking sense about this situation. And as you grow older you’ll realise there are some fights that are not worth maintaining. There are issues that are better let go. It’s important to respect the past, to leave some things consigned to the past. Hurt, pain, bitterness, anger… These are terrible negative emotions. And they’ll condition you badly and wrongly. Of course, chances are you’ll outlive your father. There’s no guaranty but that’s the normal permutation of life. Truth is, outliving him is the only revenge you can have. But then you’ll keep fighting the ghost of his memory. And that fight will never end. You’ll be fighting a dead man. Now, that’s a fight you CAN NEVER win! Ask those who have tried. Your father is your father. You can’t change him. He’s lived a very substantial part of his life, made his choices, did what he wanted with his life. You can’t beat him trying to outdo him in vengeance. It’s a trap you’re stepping into.

Like that proverbial African song about the capture of the elephant, you’re dancing towards a hole papered over with a mat. Forget the pride. Let it go. You won’t see your position as pride but it is. Sometimes, we win certain fights by not fighting. Let it go. Make up your mind to be the best husband to your wife, the best father to your children. But if you hide darkness in your heart these desirables will elude you. It’s better in life to just accept people for who they are and work on from there. It’s futile imagining what life would have been if your dad had not been who he is. He’s not a good father, so what are you going to do about that! Nothing you can do. It may be that he’ll look back in life and have regrets. But what does that matter to you. You should have moved on past that event. If you want to pour coals on his head, do good to him. That is so unexpected it’ll break down a man. Any other thing is expected. If you don’t visit him it’s expected. If you keep your children away from him, it’s expected, even logical. But when you do good to him, now, that’s unexpected! Especially when you don’t want anything from him. You go out there and make your own money, after all that’s what he did.

Sometimes, parents like yours are victims of their own parents too. Because his father never showed him affection he developed into who he is. And he did find some justification in business, though he knows those were excuses to express bitterness. And so he became what he is – an old man who has everything except his children and family. And when a man loses his family, what exactly does he have left? He has a large house full of emptiness – expensive stuff with limited capacity for comfort. There have been many like him in history – men who had everything except anything. Family is very important. And so do you want bitterness to turn you into him? If you pursue this bitterness, you’re already looking at yourself in your father a few years from now. We all react to history one way or another. We all react to our past. But none of us is consigned to making the mistakes of our father. We can choose course, we can change course. If you don’t change course, perhaps your child will be saying what you’re saying about your father about you a few decades hence.

You want to have a good marriage. Don’t let bitterness ruin its potential. You have a lovely young woman. Leave some things to her. She may be the one who’ll eventually straighten out your father with her love and affection. After all, what we all want, what we all crave for, is for someone to love us! Think these things over.

Your mentor, LA

And as you grow older you’ll realise there are some fights that are not worth maintaining. Click To Tweet
Tags : abandonment, Absent father, Courage, Letting go, Vindictive, Love, Revenge, Bitterness, Forgiveness, Joy

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