Ruthie and Stu (and mostly also Arlo) —
I got your request in time to dedicate this card to your first child, Arlo. Welcome to the world, Arlo! Trust me, there’s a lot of it out there to see. Ruthie and Stu, I’m honored that you would think to ask me to help commemorate such an important event in your lives.
Arlo, when you’re old enough to read and understand this I hope you’ll consider some of the advice I’ve taken the liberty of dispensing here:
1. Have a dog. Treat him or her well. Don’t skimp on walks. Have a bucket list for the dog, and remember that it’s your responsibility to help fulfill it.
2. Being a teenager is rough. I don’t think there are any complete answers to the things that bother you as a teenager, but the good news is that you’ll eventually learn that these things have an extremely finite ability to cause distress and/or pain.
3. If you’re walking down the street in a big city and someone tries to scam you, never tell the person that you don’t believe their story. It only escalates the situation. Instead, say you have no money. I’m not sure what the future economy will look like, but from our perspective in 2012 there’s a good chance this will be true anyway.
4. Drive safely, try to be a good person, get plenty of fresh air and exercise. Read lots of books and don’t be rude to people online.
5. When someone does something nice for you, write a thank-you note. Seriously, I cannot emphasize this enough. People really appreciate it.
I hope this doesn’t sound too preachy. I’ve been traveling all summer long and most of my positive life lessons from this trip have their roots in my deep desire not to wind up living or feeling like people I’ve met along the way. Also, try not to be too cynical.