The old man pulled his grandson onto his lap and smiled at the young version of himself. “I’m going to give you a bit of advice to live by, squirt.”
The boy looked up at his grandfather and squealed laughter, his arms flailing the rattle in his hand.
“I know you’re young yet, but if I tell you enough maybe it’ll sink in.” The old man sighed, thinking back on his life. “It took me far too long to learn the secret of happiness. Cost me your grandmother’s love, among other things.”
The baby in his lap squealed again.
“If I could do it all over, I would have paid more attention to the wisdom my own grandfather had tried to impart. Hopefully you aren’t as bullheaded as I was back then.”
He lifted the small child so the boy was standing on his thighs.
“This is the most important piece of advice I’m ever going to give you, and I’m going to give it often in the hopes that it’ll sink in before it’s too late for you.”
The baby studied the wall behind the old man, decorated with countless family photos. The old man waited patiently for the boy’s eyes to return to his face.
“The secret of true happiness is three simple words, just seven letters: let it go.
“When something is bothering you: let it go. Look at it from a fresh perspective later and you’ll likely see it was never as bad as you’d made it out to be.
“When someone cuts you off in traffic: let it go. Swear at ’em and flip ’em the bird if need be, but then let it go. Eventually you’ll make it to the point where you don’t need swearing and rude gestures anymore, but I’m not going to lie. In the beginning they did help. Just be sure to let the situation go immediately afterward or it’ll ruin your day.
“When your boss is grinding on your last nerve: let it go. He’s probably had just as bad of a day as you and the only way he knows how to deal with it is to take it out on you. That’s a flaw of his, not yours, but I promise you, more often than not your positive attitude will rub off on him and he’ll lighten up before the day is over. He might even apologize. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s happened a few times.”
The baby burped and a line of milk dribbled from the corner of his mouth. The old man swiped it away with a thumb and laughed.
“I know you don’t understand what I’m telling you, but someday you will, and when that day comes I hope you’ll be smart enough to let the negative things go without letting them consume you first. That was the mistake I made. They say history is doomed to repeat itself, but if I have anything to say about it you won’t make the mistakes of your grandfather.”
This isn’t my usual kind of story, but I felt the need to share it because a lot of people would do well to follow the advice of this wise old man. There must be something in the air this week that won’t allow me to let out the darker side of things.