I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there. –Richard P. Feynman
When Ben turned 16, his mother (my good friend) asked people to give him life-advice by snail-mail. I recently found a copy of what I wrote and thought I’d share it will you below:
I’ve known you since you were eight years old and I know two things about you. You use big words and you get things others miss. Big words are easier to come by than most people think, you just read a few thick books.
But seeing the invisible, now that could be a full-fledged super-power. So here is my advice to you– find one big question to answer. Look for questions that intrigue you and explore them until you can pick one to work on until you answer it. Then share it with others who have been trying to answer that same question. Here’s an example of what I mean. Gregor Mendel, the man who ended up studying heredity using peas was initially interested in a million things. But he wanted to see something no one else saw or had ever seen before. So he checked out the most intriguing questions in the Science of his day. It turned out nobody knew how heredity worked. So this is what he decided to figure out. He did not stop there of course. He shared his findings with other Natural Scientists. The world needs people who see what the rest of us miss– like you, but more than that, we need you to help us figure out the world. I don’t mean to lecture you or leave you with one big chore. Just know I believe in you this way and I thought you should know.
Happy Birthday and all the best as you turn 16!
If you’ve ever “just-known” things– Carl Jung called this innate just-knowing “intuition”, my advice to Ben could pertain to you. Let me know if you try it– I don’t expect to hear from you for a long time. My advice to Ben takes years to follow through– I know, I try some days.
If you’re not sure what I’m writing about– read on. My 6 year-old wrote Ben the following:
I can’t give you much advice because… I don’t know what to say. You have lived more than I. So give yourself the advice you want to hear and let’s pretend it was from me!
Your (smaller than you) Friend