Some Merit

Dear Kids,

You’ll have many roads to choose from in the years ahead; if I’ve done my job well you’ll choose the right road most of the time. No matter how much I try, however, you’ll be confronted with course decisions I haven’t prepared you for. About the best I can do is tell you about a general principle I’ve learned along the road and hope that it holds as true for you as it has for me. For most choices  in life I’ve done better and been happier when I’ve owned the road chosen. I know, that doesn’t make any sense; let me explain.

When I was in college I took a class in ethics and I have to tell you that I rocked it. I was a superstar in that class; I was unmatched in my engagement, thoughtfulness, and insight. Most importantly, the professor loved me and it was reflected in hard, cold, awesome grades. I felt like I could do no wrong. Eventually, however, I was faced with a choice. At one point in the semester I had a sort of perfect storm of assignments; my ethics professor and various science professors colluded to swamp me with projects. Something had to give. I was talking with a friend and lamenting my situation when he cheerfully proposed a solution. He had taken the same ethics class a few years prior and remembered the specific assignment. He had scored an A on it and suggested I use his paper as a template for mine. This seemed like a perfect idea at the time…yes the fact that this was an ethics class is not lost on me. So with his paper in hand I crafted my own from his. I utilized his main arguments but wrote the paper with my tone and style. Thanks to the assist from my friend, I managed to complete my biology and chemistry assignments on time and get the ethics paper in just before the deadline; everything was hunky dory.

A week later I got the ethics paper back and on the top right corner was a big red B. It was impossible I thought; I had submitted an A paper–I had the historical proof evidenced by my friend’s paper showing a big red A and glowing comments. I leafed through my paper and got to the last page. I will always remember what my professor wrote at the bottom:

This paper warrants some merit Chris. Do not content yourself with some merit.”

Kids, this isn’t a simple story about cheating…in an ethics class no less. Shoot, that lesson is easy to grasp; don’t do it. It’s about the bigger issue of owning the road you’re on. There are no shortcuts from the road and you certainly won’t get to where you want to be by taking someone else’s road. Everything about the road you’ve chosen says something about you. People will know the kind of person you are by the journey you’ve taken, by the choices you’ve made. In some ways it defines you. When you have made good choices and found a good road, people will come to expect more from you, perhaps even more than they expect from your friends. It’s not unfair for people to expect great things from you; it’s an honor you’ve earned so treat it as such.

Even now I see your roads diverging from mine; while it makes me sad I’m also incredibly proud. I know you’ll own your road and I can’t wait to see where it takes you.

Love always,
Dad

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24 Comments

  1. Posted April 8, 2012 at 4:37 am by Klaus | Permalink

    Letter from a Dad … i missed your words and images .. realy. Kudos Christopher you make a excellent job with your blog. It’s good to be honest, and sometimes we must learn from mistakes .. that’s life. And about the image .. like the framing and the vignette, but with your words it have a perfect sense. Sorry for my bad english, hope you understand me. ;-)

  2. Posted April 8, 2012 at 6:27 am by joshi daniel | Permalink

    minimal and a nice composition :)

  3. Posted April 8, 2012 at 7:12 am by Brenda | Permalink

    What a life lesson to share with your children – accompanied by an impactful image.

  4. Posted April 8, 2012 at 8:34 am by yz | Permalink

    excellent strong graphic shot

  5. Posted April 8, 2012 at 9:39 am by Roland Theys | Permalink

    A excellent photo! i like!

  6. Posted April 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm by Matthias | Permalink

    Christopher, your story touched me, reminds me on my own profession as teacher for philosophy (ethic). Your way of posting/ blogging makes me marvel very much. A story which is surrounded by a wonderful capture. I like it. Please more …

  7. Posted April 8, 2012 at 11:02 pm by fabrizio | Permalink

    as always my friend your post is perfect your words and your image merge in a single path, many compliments Chris

  8. Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:04 am by rian | Permalink

    lesson learned.. ;) and a fine shot to accompany this fine post you have.. well done..

  9. Posted April 9, 2012 at 8:26 am by faisal | Permalink

    nice. love the absence of any life or cars.

  10. Posted April 9, 2012 at 9:45 am by Michael | Permalink

    !!! I have to forward this to my sister as it sums up many of the points in a long conversation we had yesterday. As always, lovely image and moving words Chris. I really love this “Dear Kids” series.

  11. Posted April 9, 2012 at 9:45 am by Corinna | Permalink

    So beautiful. And it doesn’t surprise me at all to hear that you are an ethics star – most of the time. Love this powerful parenting.

  12. Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:38 am by george | Permalink

    A superb matching of image to words Chris…

  13. Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm by Navin Harish | Permalink

    Great architecture shot

  14. Posted April 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm by Phil Vaughn | Permalink

    It takes some fortitude to admit a mistake, but it takes wisdom to point to what was learned. You did both very well. Listen to your Dad, kids.

  15. Posted April 11, 2012 at 3:56 am by Will | Permalink

    Once again a wonderful combination of words and a photo which go together in perfect harmony. As always I spent a minute or so taking in the photo, the lines intersecting space, the wonderful contrast…then I read through the words and as always I’m blown away.

    The messages you are writing for your kids are superb, all these lessons in life from your own experience, whether it’s good or bad, your honesty is really refreshing.

    Thanks for sharing every time.

  16. Posted April 12, 2012 at 4:01 am by Doug Hickok | Permalink

    Excellent lesson for everyone Chris, perfectly illustrated in your image. I must profess, you would make a good professor yourself, or maybe even a life coach, or a long haired meditating mountain top guru, with camera :^)

  17. Posted April 14, 2012 at 4:56 am by Marcie | Permalink

    Such a beautiful legacy to leave to your children. I”m sure they’ll learn from their father..and forge and follow their own paths. And -a perfect image to illustrate the point!

  18. Posted April 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm by Chris B | Permalink

    beautiful excellent shot.

  19. Posted April 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm by Kala | Permalink

    Very compelling shot, Christopher.

  20. Posted April 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm by Céline | Permalink

    Nice dramatic shot!

  21. Posted April 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm by MARK BOLTON | Permalink

    great work… nice and clean, minimal and classic!

  22. Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:25 am by sherri | Permalink

    as confusing as life itself. too many times we have to turn around and oh the time it takes to get back on the correct road. sometimes it’s too late. yes, indeed, choose wisely.

  23. Posted June 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm by Rue Du Lavoir | Permalink

    Le texte est touchant.
    La photo qui l’illustre est, elle aussi, très réussie.
    C’est très beau de transmettre ces mots et de les faire partager ainsi.

  24. Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm by Kevin | Permalink

    Very strong shot and bw tones !

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