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Avery, your brain shall be force fed the words of Amy Hempel. I know that sounds like over-bearing brainwashing parental silliness, but please read below and respect the scriptures that define my creative love.

(All quotes in bold italic are from the novel: The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel)

“S-O-S,” the father informed. “What you want to remember is: Be Simple, be Original, be Sincere. That’s the winning system.”

What makes her so special?

“Did you know that when they taught the first chimp to talk, it lied? That when they asked her who did it on the desk, she signed back the name of the janitor. And that when they pressed her, she said she was sorry, that it was really the project director. But she was a mother, so I guess she had her reasons.” 

Avery, I once had the markings of being another shallow product of suburban mediocrity, and then I discovered the author Chuck Palahniuck. His literature gave me the confidence to challenge the status quo and left me in a state of hostile unease. I understood exactly what I didn’t want to be, and I solely defined my identity on that one-dimensional negation. I attended some of Chuck’s live readings, and he sang the praises of Amy Hempel.

“They say the smart dog obeys, but the smarter dog knows when to disobey.”

I felt a raw truth in her words and learned something about who I wanted to be, rather than who I thought I was. Her writing can weave equal poetic layers of Joy, Sadness, and comedy with an extreme economy of word count. Every time I read the story called “The Most Girl Part of You”, the hair on my arms raise and my eyes water with tears of joy. Her talent for writing is so vast and unique it should have scared me off from being a writer but it only inspired it further. I owe most of my creative ambition to her words and every time I write, I think “What would Amy say?”.

Here is a quote from “The Most Girl Part of You”:

“That was before his mother died. She died eight days ago. She did it herself. Big Guy showed me the rope burns in the beam of the ceiling. He said, “Any place I hang myself is home.” In the movie version, that is where his father would have slapped him”

“The children’s dog had been killed the month before. The children felt it would be unfair to get another dog — unfair to their former dog. The children were in pain, and I felt I knew what to say. I said to their father, quoting a lovely poem, “Tell them this: ‘The need for the new love is faithfulness to the old.’” He said, “That’s what I used to tell myself when I cheated on my ex-wife.”

Avery, there is something about the general idea of minimalism where it both haunts and seduces my attitude on life. I hope to infuse this attitude in my future as your Father, and at the most difficult of times, I can always discover new emotions and ideas on life as I read Amy Hempel from the perspective of your father.

Read a sample of her work here.

I will say it again: Read a sample of her work here. DO IT!!

Avery,

I can’t in good conscious believe that you will achieve anything more than the standards of my own living, just because I tell you to do so. I dream that you will choose to spend your evenings engaging in a variety of intellectual challenges, alongside an age appropriate context of responsibilities. My strategy of providing this path, is best described by a rule I learned from the craft of screenwriting, “Show, don’t tell”. Avery, if you were alive right now, all I could possibly show you lately, is an unhealthy addiction to video-games, porn, Facebook debating and the Netflix instant queue. It would be an easy path of ignorance to sit on my couch of lethargic shame and believe that I will magically break all of these habits the day you are born. I owe you more than that, and I will set a higher standard for this family to live by, starting right now.

Rather than specifically focusing on one goal, I could be a much better parent if I simply generalize my self-improvement, in an effort to be an all-around better person. That is what I want for you Avery, O let thy be the light.

Dad’s manifesto of change:

Seven days a week, I will spend a minimum of thirty-minutes on each of these things:.

  • Chores

Dishes, Laundry and the litter-box

  • Exercise

Weights, Yoga, and Running

  • Creativity

Writing, Editing, Photography

  • Reading

Fiction, Non-Fiction, Science, Philosophy, Journalism, self-help, and Barley Legal

Accountability:
Good intentions are routinely lost in the fray of repetition and exhaustion. I need a hook, that keeps me dedicated to this mission statement. That hook is this blog and it’s regular readers. I will live tweet these daily goals @Lessonsforavery and I will add a recent tweets gadget to the side bar of this blog. So everybody and anybody, will be able to see my progress, and if I’m slacking, they are encouraged to tweet @Lesssonsforavery and provide me a social media kick in the ass, if they wish to.

Follow me!

This is what it’s like to be an adult Avery, struggling to micro-manage these fleeting attempts to convince ourselves that we have control of something. We shall all fail at some point, even so, our ultimate goal is to simply never give up, in-spite of all the fore-shadowing of our eventual demise. Life must be treated as an opportunity, to be something more than those before us. Procrastination is the poison, that blinds us from death, by creating the fear of life. Now or never, count me in; be prepared Avery, because your next.

Below, are some pictures from my less-than-recent accomplishments, hopefully these shall serve as motivation, to be a better person.

First two pictures are from a 10K foot-race I participated in 2008. Finished in 1:01:33

These are from the top of a mountain I free-climbed in the Appalachians.
And Finally, these are from another hiking trip. Diane and I completed this treacherous 9-mile long day-hike through thick swampy forests, across cable bridges, and around the largest water-fall in South Carolina.

Hi Avery,

If I can teach you one lesson, pertaining to the culture and dynamics of human-nature, it would be this:

Power Corrupts.

This rule is to human-nature, as gravity is to the universe, and as your father, protector and provider, it is my responsibility to wield the powers of adulthood for the betterment of your well-being. This role and duty is inherently a corruption of my will. The irony is that I myself, to this very day, still battle the will of my parents, and I anticipate, that I always will. Power just isn’t something you ask for, or something life just hands you, it’s something you fight for. So I expect, anticipate, and plan for, all the love and happiness we shared over your childhood, to be put aside, and I encourage you to challenge the authority of your captures.

I forgive you Avery, for I know that if I do my job right, you will not go silently into that good night. I said and did horrible things to both of my parents, and we survived. Even so, when I spend time with them, I often want to apologize for my rebellion, and what I think is guilt, may actually just be appreciation, admiration, and eventual inspiration.

Hopefully, I’m ready Avery, or as ready as I can be; either way, I will try to rememeber, that my goal is to survive this war, because there is no victor, just another recruit

From one warrior to another, bring it on brat.

Inspired by this guy:

Hi Avery,

I’m at a pivotal time of my life right now, and in fact, I may be having a crisis of faith. I call myself an artist, and for me, art is like a church. It is my personal respite from all the ambiguity that haunts my future. The crisis of faith that I need to speak of, is how much the arrogance of hate and judgement, threatens my ambitions.

It bothers me, and I’m sick and tired of being ashamed of this fact. How could it not bother me, when I care about something so deeply, and all I want to do is share it with the world. That is the arrogant part, when we assume that one persons contributions are more valuable than others.

I know this so well, because I too have been a contributor of hate and judgement. Its the disease of the consumer, if you paid for it, you have the right to hate it, but now I pay for these acts with my own pride, and it haunts my every action and this payment makes it easier to just give up on being an artist. With every act of procrastination, I carve out my eventual escape plan from my own ambitions. I need to eradicate this fear, because it stands for everything that poisons a genuine act of creation.

Easier said, than done.

The reason this is important to you Avery, is that creating, caring, and protecting you, is art. I’m the co-director of your future, and the decisions I make with the canvas and craft of parenting, will be scrutinized, dismissed and judged as much, if not more than anything else I will love in my lifetime.

For instance, my favorite film of 2011 was created by a man who avoids the public at all cost. His film is nominated for picture of the year, best directing, and best cinematography, yet he will not even show up to the award ceremony, nor will you find a single interview with him about the nominations or any of his work. His film “The Tree of Life”, is a very personal, bold, and original attempt to create art from life, and no matter what you think about this film, you simply, can’t take that away from the creator. At this very moment, somebody, somewhere, is calling this movie “The biggest piece of garbage ever made”. I don’t really care why someone does or does not like something, I wonder what did this artist do wrong besides honor his own vision? If that is why he is being hated, than nobody should be surprised that he hides from pop-culture. If you feel the need to publicly hate this movie, ask yourself, “What does Terrence Malick owe you?”. The answer to that question is nothing, you paid to see an artist be creative, honest and ambitious, whether or not it works for you, shouldn’t be a reason to detest such a genuine effort of love.
As a creator, you have the responsibility to be honest with yourself, work hard, and find your own path. I’m still not there Avery, I’m still afraid to do this, and I still feel trapped in a cycle of insecurity and self-pity.

It is time I face this fear head on, and find my own way. I owe that to you, because nobody in the world should have the power to make me question your beauty.

So far, this has been all talk, so I want to prove that I’m not afraid to fail. Tonight, I’m going to shoot a short film, and I will release it for the world to see. I will try to not care about what people think about it, because it is not for them, it is for us.

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