When you become a new parent, everything changes. The first time I looked into the trusting, innocent eyes of my newborn son, all my old, selfish priorities were swept aside in an instant. Now, everything was about him, not me. I knew right then I'd always be the proudest father on earth, just so long as he does something with his life that brings him true happiness and wins him the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
Seeing that tiny pink face beaming up at me, I resolved to always be there for him, no matter what, and to give him my full, unhesitating support in anything he chooses to do on his path toward becoming one of our nation's most celebrated authors.
I'd never belittle his aspirations the way my folks did with me. No way. And I won't tell him what to do with his life. If he shows an interest in an area that he enjoys and finds meaningful and that involves exploring modern American life through a collection of short stories declared a masterpiece by The New York Review Of Books and all the other important literary publications, then he can do whatever he wants.
Who knows what the world holds in store for my little boy? Perhaps he'll choose to be a doctor, pioneer a new life-saving medical procedure, and then fictionalize the story of that discovery in a critically acclaimed roman à clef. Perhaps he'll be a fireman, and work late into the night writing the great American novel in his spare time. Or maybe he'll choose a quiet, pastoral life, honing his skills in obscurity for years before publishing a magnum opus that poignantly captures the human condition in a way no work of fiction has before. Any of those outcomes would be great.
No one can predict the future, but the only thing that matters to me now is that he follows his dreams—no matter what unexpected places they take him—and achieves genuine fulfillment in whatever he does. And then wins the National Book Critics Award for Fiction.
I don't think I ever realized just what life was all about until the birth of my son. His arrival has made me a better person. The things that used to seem so important—oh, you know, the job, the car, the bitterness over never becoming one of the major novelists of my generation, the petty disputes with Linda, the never-ending office politics, all that meaningless stuff—now just seem irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.
What matters now is Gregory Junior. I want only for him to be content, healthy, satisfied with his place in this world, and the most esteemed and distinguished personage in American letters. That's all!
As he finds his own path, I hope he'll take the time to stop and smell the roses on his way to the gala ceremony where he receives one of literature's most coveted prizes.
Because life's too short not to take things as they come and live in the moment. As my child grows, I'm discovering the world anew through him. I'm realizing true joy is found in the simple things: family, generosity, peace, serenity. At the end of the day, isn't that what matters?
These are the lessons I want to pass on to my son. Would I be disappointed with him if he won the National Book Award or a Pulitzer Prize? Of course not. Not if he goes on to complete the trifecta of American literary honors by also earning the National Book Critics Award for Fiction.
On that day I'll be the most loving father he could ever imagine.