To Build A Better World

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A little boy tells his father
"I want to be an air force pilot, I want to knock on the sky.
I want to see where the angels live and where God sits on high."
His father grins and he says "Mijo, you'll be the best.
You'll fly higher than all the rest.
You'll be famous, the man without fear.
I'll be so proud, I'll shed many a tear."
But the little boy climbed a ladder and cried
He ran to his father and said "Dad, I almost died!
No, a pilot is brave, I don't think I will try.
I can see the clouds from here just fine. I won't fly so high."

A little boy tells his father
"I want to be a movie star, a brown Clooney or Cruise.
I'll make the people cry or make them laugh 'til they bruise."
His father grins and he says "Mijo, you'll be the best.
You'll win more Oscars than all the rest.
Your face will grace posters and covers
Just wait! Your talent will soon be discovered!"
But the little boy ran off the stage at his school play, how bashful was he!
He ran to his father and said "Dad, I almost peed!
No, an actor is not shy. I don't think I will try.
I'll never be on stage. I think I'd rather die."

A now-older boy tells his father
"I want to be an artist. I want to paint a thought.
My brush is a net, catching things that can't be caught."
His father grins and he says "Mijo, you'll be the best.
Van Gogh? Picasso? Pure amateur fest.
Le Louvre will beg for your piece of history
Brush in hand, yours is a new way to see."
But the now-older boy was told his stick figures were "too lean".
He ran to his father and said "Critics are mean.
A true artist is tough and their work must be true.
I'll just be content with my glitter and glue."

An older boy tells his father
"I want to be a writer. I want to crystallize ideas, or a truth, uncover.
Words can skewer like a knife, or caress like an old lover."
His father grins, and says "Mijo, you'll be the best.
There are more words in your head than hair on your chest.
Wordsworth and Keats are more family than friend.
You will change lives with the words you have penned."
But the older boy grew up poor and writing could not lift his burden
He ran to his father and said "My golden goose is not in my pen,
A good writer struggles and often into depression, descends.
My soul rejoices at words, but stories are currency I cannot spend.
Plus, I'm too wordy. I must be more conscientous.
I sound like a know-it-all. I'm much too pretentious."

A young man tells his father
"I want to be a teacher and shape students' minds.
I want to expound and inspire and to counsel in kind."
His father smiles and says, "Mijo, listen to me.
There are so many other things you could be.
You are a boy no longer, and the world is hard and cruel.
You grew up poor and you will struggle teaching high school."
And the young man was confused and in pain
He looked up to his father and said "There is much more to gain
You pushed me to be all that I wished, but I am too old for dreams.
Dad, I'll make you proud. I'll seek more worthy schemes."

A young man tells his father
"I want to be a social worker and navigate the knots of the heart and mind.
I want to help the burdened, whose baggage leaves them lost and blind."
His father smiles and says, "Mijo, you can be more.
Become a lawyer or an engineer or life will be a chore.
You're smart so please don't settle. You are a man
And I am old. I will not always be there to hold your hand."
And the young man took a breath and said "I'll try again.
I'll be famous for you, Dad. I'll change the world and graze the sky.
I'll be all you want me to be and make you proud before you die."

The not-so-young man tells his father
"Well, Dad, I've struggled and life has put me through hell.
I've been lonely and broke and depressed with no one to tell.
But all that I bore, so you wouldn't hurt, so you wouldn't shed a tear.
And much more will I bear when you're gone, my hopes and my fears.
I have worked these last few years to make you smile
I have worked hard to ride these uncertain years in style.
But I have worked and I have toiled, as you now know.
I have chosen my path and I'm joining the Navy Engineering Corps.
Yes, your son will be an engineer, with a future and career.
I will build better bases and bridges and homes.
I will build a better world than the one I have ever known.
So, Dad, is this enough? May I rest? Am I allowed?
Is this enough for you? Are you, now, proud?

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