12/28/2012 07:58 am ET Updated Feb 27, 2013

From Childhood to Manhood, You're 18 Years Old Today


Good Morning Son,

Today is your 18th birthday. In the eyes of the world, you have now crossed the threshold from youth to manhood.

Through your intense brown eyes, you have experienced the ultimate joys of happiness and felt the excruciating pain of rejection and loss.

You have seen many of your dreams come true, while others "in your eyes" have been shattered or at least, temporarily, placed on hold.

You have discovered, unfortunately, that the world around you is not always kind, nor is it always forgiving. Fortunately, both it and you have proved to be resilient.

Today you are 18. That being joyfully said, as I remember your first breath and cry, there are some truths that I have learned through my life experiences, I am compelled to share with you.

Always and forever, communicate. Keep the lines open and flowing, even if all you can muster is just one word or two. "I'm ok, how are you?" will do.

Never be too proud to say,"I'm sorry." We all are subject to fail without notice. Men, however, learn from their mistakes; get up and move on, scars, bruises and all.

Life isn't always fair, it doesn't rewind and it's always moving forward. What happened yesterday is now past and cannot be relived. What happens today is important and totally depends on you.

With each mountain top you reach, you'll glow and bask in the moment. Sooner still with each pinnacle reached, there will always be a valley to descend into. Its breath and depth ultimately will depend on you.

How you traverse these peaks and valleys will define the man that lies within you. Remember, all great things are possible when you realize you are not alone. God is forever there to guide you and even carry you when you're struggling to find your way, just ask.

There will be limitless opportunities to use your amazing talents for good, for success and for happiness. Always, put the best of others first and everything else will fall into place.

When you say thank you or I love you to someone, always look them in the eyes so they may see the sincerity from your heart. Never be afraid to offer or receive a hug. Touch is a wonderful thing.

Lastly, in this magnificent journey of life, those you love and care for the most will, at some point, unwittingly disappoint you. Pedestals are "man-made" and therefore eventually crack or crumble.

Sadly families and the very best of friends have a way of doing that at one time or another, albeit ever so brief. Learn to forgive and more importantly, to forget. We men must do that to survive.

Regardless of circumstance, best friends and family will never leave you or abandon you, no matter how far away you happen to stray; nor will they ever stop supporting you or believing in you. And most importantly, they will never stop loving you.

It's in these unshakable truths that you will find your roots to be forever grounded. Embrace them, cherish them and with each breaking dawn remember: "True happiness is not defined by "the stuff" we accumulate throughout our lives, but in those whom we have nurtured and shared the very essence of our lives with."