To my darling-darling Phoebe,
As your Daddy, I have found myself stuck in two wildly different minds since the day you were born. But up until this point I have kept this battle strictly internal. I have done all I could to quash the fighting and ignore the tussling, but I can't do it any more because, well, I want to be honest with you. Basically, since the day you popped out like a cork firing out of a bottle of shaken champagne, I have made notes, notes and more notes, desperately trying to decide what sort of parent I want to be, what sort of parent I need to be, what sort of parent you deserve me to be. I can't tell you how tough that question is to answer. However, after much deliberation, I got my options down to two. Do I want to teach you about the importance of job security and ambition or do I want to teach you about the pointlessness of job security and ambition. It may seem easy to others, to you, but I have to decide in a way that isn't harmful to you, and make that decision without letting my own rose-coloured nostalgia paint the past in a different light.
Saying that, if I learned just one thing from 2016, it is that you can lose a job you hate doing. Just like that, you can be made unemployed. You could be fired or made redundant or told you aren't a good fit and let go; there are a millions things that could happen. So you may as well take a risk on that thing you really want to do, that something that you love like no other, your reason for being, trust me. The struggle may drive you mad, but you'd be mad not to try.
I lost my 'real' job 10 days before Christmas and, guess what, I'm smiling. One of those proper smiles too. I don't know exactly why I'm smiling but I think it's because I feel alive again. I tried accepting the mundanity of normal life by thinking it was the right thing to do for you, and to give you security, but it's so tedious and soul chomping. And what sort of parent would I be if I encouraged you to go down that route. I don't want your soul to be chomped at. I want your soul to run wild. To lead you around the world. To know love and hurt, and passion for those less fortunate. I want you to be you and not to succumb to the mediocrity of a repetitive life, never knowing what it is to feel alive, and always being to scared to live on the edge. I was once told that if you're not living on the edge, well, you're taking up too much room.
Phoebe, I'm using this little blog of mine as an opportunity to be the worst dad ever and tell you to live your life... really live it, in jungles, and up mountains and on beaches, not in some second-rate city doing a job you loathe. Please, don't sacrifice your time for any amount of money. I've had some of the best times of my life in the worst places in the world and some of the worst times of my life in the best places. I've been to 5* hotels, I've stayed in them all over the world, and I can tell you right now that I preferred those nights I was homeless, sleeping in a hammock on the beach, or in someones garden, or sofa surfing when the weather turned. Because, well, they are stories, they are life experiences, they are life.
I want you to be ambitious, I want you to aim for the stars and see what is beyond them, but it wasn't until I was knee deep in notes that I found a new perspective (it's wonderful when that happens): ambition isn't just about climbing a corporate ladder. Ambition can also be wanting to see every country in the world, it can be walking the boards of a theatre, or struggling as a writer, or hopping from country to country as you teach English as a foreign language. Ambition is exactly what you want it to be. Not what I want it to be for you, not what society dictates it should be, but what you want tit to be. And it can take any form and any path. Ambition could be to break the glass ceiling that has been imposed on women in business. It could be fighting for equality. It could be teaching people that there is only one race; the human race. It could be travelling, seeing the world, fixing its hurt, and doing your best to leave it in a better shape than we gave it to you, and doing this from the ground up can be far more rewarding than doing it from an air-conditioned boardroom, at least I think so. Like I said, I've stayed in 5 Star London Hotels in London and I've lived in roofless African shacks, and I know which I'd rather do again.
I know my advice is probably the worst parenting advice ever - especially in the eyes of the bored or those filled with regret - but you only get one shot at this circus and you never know when that shot will be over; when it will disappear into the abyss. That's why I believe that there is nothing good about playing this life safe. Uncertainty is nerve-wracking, scary, irresponsible, terrifying, unwise and exciting, so very exciting. Our lives right now are so incredibly uncertain, and yet I feel free. Yes we're relatively poor right now, but we are so rich in love. We love you so much. You give everything reason and, trust me, I've lived a life without reason in the past. God you are perfect. In every sense of the word, you are perfect. Your eyes, your smile, your cheekiness, you manners, your thirst for life, your total joy, your kisses and hugs and the way you talk with a lisp; everything about you is perfect. And I can't wait to see what ambition you choose.
But, that's enough of me poisoning your mind. Sorry, poppet. Ignore me, if you want. Anyway, I love you with every beat of my heart, Phoebe, and every thought of my whirring mind.
Stay weird, stay wonderful, stay you... and keep dancing with the fairies, it's much more fun than growing up.