Letter to Evelyn: Creating Your Own Path

Published on July 25th, 2016
Rick and Evelyn holding handles while walking up a trail on Mount Sanitas.


You're not even two and a half years old, and I'm already facing a daily dilemma. Should I hold your hand and show you the world? Should I come running every time you call for help? Should I let go and allow you the space to figure things out on your own? Yes, you are so very young and the scales currently tip towards constant intervention. However, you are such a strong force that I know it's just a matter of time before it'll stifle more than support your growth. And as much as I want to protect you and do everything in my power to give you a good life, it is you that must create your path.

Your mom and I believe this so much that we made it part of our wedding vows. While we have committed ourselves to each other, we also know that we are independent individuals with our own goals, desires, and dreams. Yes, there will be times when they overlap. However, there will be times where we need to allow each other to explore on our own while we support each other from the sidelines.

When I look at this photo of us, I love that we're exposing you to the beauty of nature. When I look closer at this photo, I'm afraid that I'm holding your hand too tightly, unable to let you run off the path and get into the weeds. And yet every time we let you do your thing, that is when we see your personality burst out.

I tried to get you to walk around the rocks, but you were determined to show your strength by walking over them.

I tried to help you pick path A or B, but you decided to show us your ingenuity by running straight down the middle between them.

I tried to keep you from picking up all the rocks, but you showed me your love for them by hugging them and going as far as laying down on one and pretending it was your bed.

Ultimately, your creativity with respect to how you interact with the world gives me great hope that you will create your own path and author your own story. It will be challenging for me to get out of the way, but I'm going to make that commitment to you now, hoping that you will one day read this and keep me accountable to that commitment. No, I won't knowingly let you put yourself in danger, but I will do my best to trust that I've done my part to give you the best possible start in life... and that it's up to you to decide where you want to go and how you will get there.



PS. This picture makes me smile every time I look at it. I just happened to catch you pointing down as you were trying to convince your mother to snuggle up next to you.

Evelyn laying on a rock while hiking Mount Sanitas.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.