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Seven Lessons About Life I Wish I Had Known When I Was 13


As pod listeners well know, it was Rog’s eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah last FA Cup weekend. Rog talked on the pod about the how the Bar Mitzvah speeches he heard as a kid shaped much of what he knows about life. Here, as promised, is the one he gave to his son. It was entitled “Seven Lessons About Life I Wish I Had Known When I Was 13.” Only after giving it did Rog realize there were only six:

“A Bar Mitzvah comes at a time of change. A transition from the sheltered nest of boyhood towards the wide open waters of life -- and with it, independence, responsibility, and decision making. When I look back at photos of me at my own Bar Mitzvah, I see a child, very much still in the nest, stuffed into a three-piece suit, looking like a tiny accountant stressed out while tax season is in full swing.

The more I looked at those same photographs, the more I began to think through the most important things I wish I had known back then as a 13-year-old kid. Tonight, Samson, I want to take the opportunity to offer them to you...

One: Every moment you have with your grandparents is a gift -- they are four of the most nourishing relationships you will ever have in your life. They will ground you, offer you wisdom, and make sure you have a rich sense of who you are and where you come from. Never take them for granted.

Two: Every human being has strengths and weaknesses. Even you Samson Bennett. Know them. Play to them. And in terms of your weaknesses, work hard to decide which you can change and which you cannot. The secret to life is about knowing how to be yourself and being at ease with it all.

Three: You have been blessed with copious amounts of an emotion that is all too rare in the world: Empathy. Your summer camp has a motto: “Help the Other Fellow,” which I hope you will come to understand is more than a slogan they sew into the camp’s socks. The ability to look at the world from different perspectives outside of your own -- and to do so with compassion -- is what will empower you to achieve all that you can achieve in your lifetime.

Four: Know the difference between an acquaintance and a true friend. Make the most out of the former. Do anything for the latter because true friendships are much rarer wonders. Hold onto them dearly. They will form a spine of memory and meaning in your life.

Five: I wake up every morning and thank God I live in the United States of America and I hope you do to. This country offers more freedoms and possibilities than anywhere else in the world. Treasure that. Value it. Make the most of it. Dream big dreams. Work hard. And if you put your mind to it, anything and everything is possible.


Six: Enjoy the moment. Always ask yourself: Am I making the most of everyone and everywhere I find myself. Tonight and forever, this lesson essentially boils down to this: whenever you get the chance to dance, do so with delight and abandon, surrounded by those you love.”