In a card to my nephew before he embarked on the adventure of joining the Navy SWCCS at 21, I wrote him a few things for him to ponder and take with him. He’s stepping into one of those rites-of-passage-moments where someone is forever expanded, entering a world that wants to form him and to be intentional on how he shapes himself
We went for a walk across the 205 Bridge that stretches like an S curve over the channels of the Columbia River, connecting Oregon and Washington. When we reached the place where we could see the farthest in both directions up and down the Columbia River, I gave him his card.
With cars whizzing by and honking on either side of our pedestrian and bike path, he shut the rest of the world out and it fell silent as he read.
“Rebel and wisdom aren’t usually in the same sentence. Keep them there together… never mix ego and alcohol, you’ll end up a fool and it makes you controllable… Keep your heart about you, your tenderness, with all that you are about to see and experience, it will take you farther, deeper and into a much more meaningful life than your brain ever could by itself… it will make you the unique individual that you are… Remember the gift you possess that we talked about a few weeks ago. See it as that, a gift, spread it around, enjoy your difference… May the world have many more men like you full of integrity, who care, who honor, who love, who protect, who rebel wisely…
He can take practically nothing with him, anything self-indentifying, but he said, I’ll take this with me.
Gretchen Rubin wrote of rebels in her book The Four Tendencies, a rebel won’t do something for you because you ask or out of obligation. They’ll do it because they love you.
So for you, my readers and tribe, rebels, lovers, mavericks, adventurers, and brilliant lights who delve into and expand your greatness intentionally, please rebel. Rebellion and wisdom may seem like ironic bedfellows when our mental imagery is more like a child bowing its neck in refusal. But held there, it locks up the energy and forward movement within us.
Rebellion at its best is a force of nature, a fierce freedom to act from choice and a heart on fire instead of from the compulsions of our refusals or what we are against. Rebel into creation. This is wisdom, not a focus on caution or dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s. My life would be so much smaller if I had not taken the risk to leap… in relationship, in relocation, in travels, in business, in physical challenges. Anywhere I rebelled in refusal instead of creation, it took so much longer to move and act.
As I wrote to my nephew, don’t let life’s experiences dim the light in your rebel eye, let them add to your wisdom. Rebel into something greater. Whatever you do in business, relationships, projects, adventures, do it for the love of it.