If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
When I was five or six, my father gave me a little book with an illustrated version of this classic poem in it.
At first I didn’t really understand the meaning of Kipling’s words, but I liked the pictures and cherished the gift. Years later as a teenager, I stumbled upon it on the bottom of a drawer and reread those powerful words. I was inspired by the four eight-line stanzas of advice to his son, written in 1909. As I reread it this morning I realize that I neglected to include my father in my list of special teachers who inspired me to pursue a teaching career.
My father, Daniel, is a remarkable man. Born to a wealthy family in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he eschewed his family’s riches and entered the seminary at the age of 14 where he studied to become a Jesuit priest. While in the priesthood, he began to question church dogma and decided to leave after meeting my mother, a nun whom he had fallen in love with. After they were married, he worked as a Spanish teacher at a local high school while he pursued a doctorate in marriage and family counseling at Columbia University. A psychologist with a thriving private practice for over 40 years, my father never forgot his teaching roots as he continued to teach in the school of counseling at C.W. Post where he recently retired from as professor emeritus.
As a child, I never realized how special my dad was. I knew my dad worked hard with his private practice, taught at the university and wrote numerous articles and books. But I didn’t truly appreciate him until later in life when I asked him for help with a junior high school research paper. As we spoke, I began to understand what a truly gifted writer he was. He could edit and revise “on the fly” while typing on his old electric typewriter. His hands would magically create masterful prose on that old onion skin paper. It was a thing of beauty to watch him work. I wanted to be a writer just like him when I grew up.
As the years passed, I learned that I could always count on my father to give me sound advice; whether it be editing and revision suggestions for research papers, counseling me when I encountered relationship problems or giving me pointers for barbequing steaks.
I’m really glad that my dad is coming over this afternoon so I can tell him how much I love and appreciate him.