Dear Kids,
The contrast is amazing. I stand in total awe of the contrast in life...
We are camping on the mid-California coast, south of Big Sur about 40 miles.
The contrast between this and our everyday existence in Palo Alto makes me think about life. Contrast is what makes you appreciate something when somebody else does not. It’s what lets you understand when something is great and what is crap. It’s the secret sauce that nobody understands... enjoy the contrast in your life!
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When I was growing up, life was pretty hard. This is gonna sound like one of those “I walked to school two miles in the snow uphill both ways” kind of stories, but the sole intention is to set the stage for contrast, and why I am so appreciative of our current situation.
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I was born to a 16 year old Mom and Dad. We did not have much money. My memories of growing up include going from oil field to oil field, living in a house without working plumbing, powdered milk, generic cereal, bologna sandwiches, second-hand shoes, cutting firewood in the morning for heat in our homemade stove, heavy labor, pushing cars to pop the clutch and get it started, double-wide trailers, frozen water pipes in the winter, blah blah.
Lots of poverty, actually. But lots of love, too – it’s a true testament to the love and attention of my parents (your grandparents) that we are in the the situation we find ourselves today.
Contrast that childhood with yours, and you’ll understand why I’m so in awe of the life we live now:
We live in Palo Alto. One of the most expensive places in the world. The best schools. Incredible food. In fact, we walk 5 minutes in one direction to take you to school, and 5 minutes in the other direction to grab food to eat from 20 different restaurants. The best weather - it’s 85 and sunny every day in the summer. Never snows, doesn’t rain too much. Our cars don’t break down. We don’t clean our own house. We eat awesome, organic food. We go places on the weekends. We wear new clothes. We have shoes and socks w/o holes. The best neighbors - all the smartest tech people in the world move to SV. Your mom and I work from home, together, on our own business.
Life is good. :) We’re definitely not rich, not pampered... but life is pretty darn good.
The contrast in my life is amazing. I’ve lived this sort of “upper middle class” life for longer now than I lived in poverty, but I’m still stuck in that mode - with good and bad consequences, but the best “good” thing is that I can still appreciate the contrast between the old and new life.
You will have your own demons to fight. I’m sure I’m messing you up in some unknown way :) But I worry that you won’t have the guiding light of contrast in your life. With a blessed life comes entitlement. Fight that. Enjoy and embrace the “down times” because it will help you truly appreciate the “up times”. Take notice of the ugly places and moments, because you will also do it in the beautiful and wonderful places and moments (and they will be so much better for it.)
To be human is to notice contrast. The only way you can truly appreciate something is if you know why it is wonderful. The only way to know WHY it is wonderful is if you know what the opposite thing is like. ...these are the kinds of lessons that come with time and experience - but just believe me when I say that contrast is the only thing that will make you understand and appreciate all that is good in your life.
When you’re down, you don’t need to be too far down, because this is just a marked point in life to measure the good stuff against. 
You’re blessed, and I love you. Please don’t ever feel entitled - be appreciative. :)
2013-08-12