|The inspiration - Fidel reaches out to his son|
The young father is stooped over, his hand stretched to meet that of his little handsome boy half-way across the trunk. The reason the picture is magical is because there in, depicted in that still black and white photo, is a compassionate and universal promise.
The promise: a solemn vow that in life, the father will always be there to provide guidance to his son and that despite what wedge life creates between them, the older man will always be there for the little one to reach out to.
This oft unspoken promise has for ages been made by proud fathers to their sons. This is the same promise given by a herdsman to his son in a sleepy African village and by a Wall Street banker to his own; a promise made by men of different ages, colours, religions and creed to their own.
This promise of relentless and unyielding support is one that was made to me by my father and to him, by his own father. One day, I shall in turn make this promise to my son. I will be as candid as I can possibly be. This is what I would like to say to him:
You have the whole world ahead of you. Life promises you so much. I hope that you will live a full life, well into your sunset days. I also hope that in your lifetime, you will go to beautiful places, meet great people and have wonderful things.
Granted, I will teach you early what you need to live a fulfilling life; to dream, to hope and to aspire to greatness. In return, I will expect you to learn these three things: to work hard; to tread carefully and to manoeuvre intelligently.
Cherish wealth and endeavour to create it, if you can. Without a doubt, if attached to social values, wealth can be the root of opportunity- the opportunity to meet great people, have nice things an go to beautiful places.
However, always remember that in the words of the scriptures, 'Of what use is it for a man to gain the whole world and to lose his soul?' In this regard, always endeavour to be at peace with your maker and to do what is pleasing to His eye.
In the same token, be at peace with others and with yourself. In cases where these two are in conflict, listen to your conscience. Love with your head,think with your heart and you will never go wrong.
As you grow older, you will realise that most people are neither for you nor against you- they are just thinking about themselves. However,your immediate family has your best interest at heart and will always have your back. Therefore, keep your family first!
Cherish your work and however humble its nature, take pride in it and give it your all. In the words of Dr. Geoffrey William Griffin: "When you are given a tea cup to clean, clean it well- like it has never been cleaned before."
What is this life if full of care? Whenever possible, take time to indulge in the little pleasures that life accords you. Should you engage in the improprieties of youth, I will expect you to do it with caution and to keep a level head.
When faced by a respected and much older opponent, a younger Bill Clinton once said; do not judge me by my age, rather, judge me by the age of my ideas. So I say to you; read widely, re-evaluate issues and whenever possible, take time to write.
Son, if you live long enough, you will fail many times. Nonetheless, do not be afraid to try new things and ideas. You will realise that when you try, it is difficult to measure the chances of success. However,when you do not try, the chance of success is zero.
In all you do, take good care of your health and your wealth. Whenever possible, spare time to help those in a position of need. The good Lord has a way of rewarding good people and a good deed is never lost.
Son, although I would always like to be there for you, this is not possible. It's therefore my hope that in my absence, you will listen to the counsel of those who are wiser and older than you, and that you will be wise in your decisions.
I like to believe that in life- be it with your career choice, relationship or even property- we have numerous options to choose from. Therefore, go for the best there is and do not settle for average.
Life is a performance in what I love to call 'The Theatre of a Lifetime.' It is my sincere hope that you will give a good account of yourself. Finally, be gracious in victory as in defeat and always remember, in whatever you do, live, laugh, love...
Your loving dad,