Dear Ones,

There is something special in every person. It's what you are and what you NEED to be. It is your nature, but it may not flow out of you naturally because there may be forces against it. Circumstances. People. Bad luck.

So, please listen to the voice of who you are if you can hear it, and try to give it expression. Then you will not be restless in life; then you will not be a ghost, buffeted here and there by those who want you to be something only for them, then you will not have sour regrets at the end of your life. If you can do this, then you will be a real person, not a fake; you will be a whole person with an essence who can love and work well. Only then will you have a chance at an honorable life and a satisfied mind.

An honorable person has integrity and is not split into a thousand pieces, one shard for this, one for that, one for the other. If you are an honorable person, then you say what you mean and mean what you say, difficult as that may be, but you will not be a poseur. And, those who know you as a person will all share one perspective, different at the edges, of course, but the same at the core. "Yes, that is the person I know", they will say when they hear your name.

There are two other values I hold dear, alongside personal honor, but have not always attained. Putting someone above yourself through love, not force; a gift of self that is less sacrifice than privilege. The privilege of being able to love that well and in that way enriches life way beyond what can be from thinking of one's self first at all times. (The trick is not to become a selfless martyr always blabbing about your suffering and moral superiority.)

The second value is to try to see the world (large and small) through someone else's eyes. This is very, very difficult. Most do not even know what it means. It's something like what my daughter and I used to say to one another, "Borrow my eyes". Nothing good will grow in your life, nothing marvelous will occur, if you are self-enclosed. Plus you will be lonely.

Although many cannot see other persons as a kind of moral compass, I have always thought that reciprocity, rightly understood, is a good formula for making one's way in the world. A give and take, a Golden Rule, a regard for something outside oneself is surely an antidote to that of becoming a monster of gluttony and conceit. Also, there is something quantitative about reciprocity that should appeal to business-minded people, even though I have something more spiritual in mind.

Because I prize the virtues of kindness and generosity, I have tried to please and to provide. I have tried to meet these standards with my family, with friends, and in my work. Family life is more complex than work life. At times, I have been successful. I hope that you will form a simple philosophy as well about your work and your family life. Ideals help with decisions.

As some have heard to the point of tedium, I also believe that our principles are tried in extreme circumstance, and that our character is formed in a resisting world. I wish this were not the case.

I hope that you can work and play well with intensity and balance. Having fun helps the spirit not to grow mean. The thing is to get now and then elated, as Frost says. Money isn't everything, but it sometimes helps here. As always, much is possible.

I know of no greater mystery than why we are here, what came before and what is beyond, but the time in between can be so sweet. I wish this sweetness for you.

With deepest love,

Roberta Bohon, Mother


Dear Asher,

This letter is about the feeling of fullness. It is an extremely important concept to me, and one that I think is essential for a good life. It is important because in my life I have often felt empty. Because of my own experience, I have come to understand that the feeling of fullness is one of the most blessed, most unacknowledged, and most underrated feelings I know. I do not mean happiness, nor do I mean contentment, nor do I mean peacefulness. I mean very simply that you feel internally rich and varied. There is another meaning of fullness that I wish for you and this has to do with the enlargement of your own feelings and perceptions. I believe that fullness arises from the mind's ability to see, notice and make discriminations between and within categories of things, persons, and event. To put this assumption very simply, the more you can see, the richer your life will be; the more diverse your experience, the fuller your life will be. Your ability to grow, change and develop will depend on how much you can discriminate and then empathize with different kinds of human experience.

Let us take for example the different kinds of human pain. There is grief. There is sorrow. There is loss. There is disappointment. The more you can tell the difference between each of these (and can respond in the right way), the more human and alive you can feel.

Your loving Aunt,

From Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations: Creating Your Own Spiritual-Ethical Will by Rachael Freed. Copyright © 2003 by Rachael Freed. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of Fairview Press.


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