There is no future for a child without family. Not in this world. We owe our success and defeats in large part to our families. I’ve been spectacularly blessed. I’ve had the good grace to be welcomed in many families, people who love and support me without question – the Wolf Pack, my own flesh and blood, and that circle of close friends I’ve made. Men and women who would drop anything to come to my aid; who embrace me for who I am.

The lack of a good family can act to make you stronger, if you can survive it. If you can build a network to replace the void. But you can’t survive alone, without society, in anarchy. I know I wouldn’t be anything like the man I am today without my family. Positive parental tapes of reasoning, understanding, acculturation, and behavior that allow me to move forward and seize my dreams. Fiscal sacrifices and assistance that make my accomplishment of those dreams possible. The idea that we have a communal pot of resources. We all contribute without hesitation or question to help us each succeed in our turn. We rely on each other to be a proper steward of the family trust. As I travel the world, I realize how rare that is and how lucky I am.

It used to be commonplace for the entire family to sacrifice everything for the hope and dream of a positive future. In our nation times have changed. There are more opportunities for individuals although we often find those that succeed have strong powerful families behind them. Without that drive and necessity, it’s almost like family bonds are falling apart. Our drive is being eaten away, the family degenerating. Instead of all for one and one for all, it’s turned into something else.

There isn’t that commitment and awareness of duty, responsibility and the unspoken understanding of love. There isn’t that dedication. Instead there’s a sense of entitlement…I deserve the fruits of my family’s sacrifice…I demand my inheritance…Others should suffer so that I can succeed even if they are family or friends…Me first…How dare you spend my inheritance enjoying your life!
Such behavior is unpalatable. Yet, it seems commonplace in our culture. How strange.

My responsibility was to go to school, learn, develop skills and to accept the assistance, support and love of my family. I know the burden it placed upon them and their sacrifice. It motivated me to take charge of my future and succeed for all of our sakes. Knowing when the time comes, it’s up to me to contribute back and ensure that family takes precedence.

My mother and father are special human beings. They’ve evolved through life into caring, aware, spectacular people. Their philosophy in our upbringing was natural. There was a time for scheduled restricted learning, and there was a time for unbridled play. Hours upon hours of just being boys, of playing in the surf. A child’s basic right to explore, develop, and play. Not punished for curiosity or called ‘boisterous and disruptive’, but accepted as boys. Cherished for that natural male energy. I’m sure if they’d had a daughter they would have focused on her natural female energy and embraced her as a whole being as well.

The turning point in my familial development came in that hell of hormones and torture known as high school. It had been building for a long time. We’d always had “special time” growing up. Time set aside for just one parent or the other to be with us and have an adventure. Taking apart radios, televisions, toys- anything we could get our hands on at the thrift “take apart” store, or going for ice cream, making balsa wood planes etc. Most importantly, it was that moment when, emotionally distraught and frustrated, my mother sat me down and said, “Special time is going to change. We’re going to have time together where I’m not your ‘mom’, I’m not judge and jury, I’m not the executioner. I’m not your parent. Time when I’m just your friend.” It was a monumental shift in my reality. Not a parent, alien and outside of my life, pushing me to be someone or something I’m not. But a sage friend, encouraging me, discussing, and most of all supporting me to learn my own lessons. There to catch me when I fell without judgement. My father and I had a similar discussion. We became more than some traditional family unit. We became friends, counseled one another, and provided a safety net where we could speak freely without fear. We were elevated to equals within the family. My brother and I became adults in a smooth, mostly painless fashion.

It was a wonderful series of moments that shaped, and continues to shape, the man I am today. That’s why I say there is nothing more important than family. Negative or positive they are the framework- the skeleton- we build our lives upon. To Ed, Jo, Alex, our extended family, the Wolf Pack, and those special others who support me unconditionally – Thank you! You are a part of me. You are reflected in all the good works that I do.