A Father’s Instruction

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” That was one question that as a child, I could never answer. I didn’t know. Sometimes, I still think I don’t know when I grow up. When I was a child, it was all interesting to me. To pick one thing to be was absurd. I didn’t think there was a limit to my capabilities. If it was humanly possible, it was in the realm of possibility for me. There was just one problem. How would I learn? I didn’t grow up with YouTube. It didn’t exist back then. Role models? They were out there, but I didn’t know how to ask or even if I was allowed to ask. The possibilities were in my imagination, but unfortunately that is where they were left to lie dormant.

The best Christmas I ever had.

Of course, I loved getting presents at Christmas when I was a kid. Who doesn’t? But toys only have so much shelf-life. Soon they get forgotten about or discarded. Some other kid has something better that leads to the never-ending desire to acquire more.

There was one Christmas that I will never forget. It was the best one and came in my early thirties. I think it was the second Christmas with my wife. We had just moved to a new house in Tallahassee and her parents came up for the holiday. When it was my turn to receive a gift, I was told to cover my eyes. I did and soon my imagination ran wild as a key was placed in my hand. Eyes still covered and clutching that key, I was led out to the garage. Little did I know that my life was going to change when I opened my eyes. In the garage was a red, shiny, brand new…toolbox. That Christmas, I got all the tools every guy should have. Sixteen years later, I still use them on a regular basis. Here was the beginning of some of the possibilities I imagined when I was a youth.

Before I met my Father-in-law, Hank, I never worked on a car. I never worked on a house. I don’t think I ever built anything that wasn’t preassembled. After being married to his daughter for almost seventeen years, I can say that has all changed. Most of what I learned how to do over the years has in some way or shape been because of what I have learned from him, even if the lesson was in the possibilities that it could be done.

How much money have I saved over the years doing my own work? Does the money even compare to what I will be able to teach my own son as he grows into a man? That is actually the greatest gift. If I would have had children before I met Hank, I would not have been able to teach them much in the ways of self-reliance. My only advice would have been to get a good job that can pay for the things you want or need to fix.

The old man (said with the greatest respect) has many admirable qualities: A Marine veteran. A teacher. He is able to carry a tune, sling a gun from horseback, and fix about anything that could be fixed. He has been married to the same lady for almost fifty years, a feat that is becoming rarer and rarer these days. I probably can’t scratch the surface of what this man can do or what he has taught me over the years. I call him Hank, but in truth I should just call him father. He took me in and taught me things I wished I would have learned in my youth. He has always been patient with me, willing to go a little slower in order that I may understand. He has treated me as a true son and by his example taught me how to be a good father. Much of what I am today, I owe to the lessons he taught me.

Royal Lessons, what is it?

Royal Lessons Banner (Compressed)

Several years ago, I began working on The Royal Lessons. Here’s the reason for the name and its purpose:

The Name

It actually starts with my son’s name.

After 8 long years of trying for a baby, my wife, Bethany, and I finally conceived. During the pregnancy, we began the careful selection of choosing a name. Names are important. Your reputation, your true worth is tied to your name. We did not want to be careless in picking a name. We wanted a name that had meaning, but also included the baby’s heritage. We had a son. We named him Alexander Ong Fine.

Alexander is a special name. We call him Alec for short. It means warrior/defender of man. Many would first think of Alexander the Great. He certainly was a warrior king, but it is the “warrior/defender of man” that I found to be of great importance. What were our hopes for our son, that we would call him a defender of man? We wanted to raise a man that would help those that needed it. We wanted to raise a protector, not a bully.

Ong is my mother’s maiden name. The name is a reminder of a legacy, that I did not want to be lost with my descendants. My mother’s family came from Indonesia. They fled the country in a turbulent time and came to America with hopes of a better life, a safer life. They did just that. They came and did what what was needed to survive. In time, they began to thrive, and my grandparents left an amazing legacy. Ong is a Chinese name as my family’s heritage has it beginnings in China. Ong translates to king.

Fine is also a name with a special heritage. Our ancestors can be traced back to the 1300’s and came to America in the 1600’s. I am constantly amazed how often I run into someone with the same last name. Often, we can find out where our lines branch, which makes for interesting conversations.

So yes, we did name our son King Al. Of course, we don’t call him that. He is our precious little boy who is very aware of his name. He is reminded of it, often when he is not living up to it.

The Purpose

For most of my life, I have been reading from the book of Proverbs. It is almost a daily default habit for me to read one chapter every day. There is so much wisdom from this book. Reading from Proverbs has put me on a quest for true wisdom from a variety of sources.

Having this knowledge is one thing, but I think wisdom is far more than just knowledge. It is what you do with that knowledge. It is action. I have not always demonstrated wisdom. More often it has been the opposite. Acquiring wisdom is a journey. You make an attempt to apply the things you learn. You make an attempt to learn from your past mistakes. There is an ideal of perfection in my mind. Of course, I know I will never be perfect, but I can strive for a type of perfection. I imagine what the next version of myself will be, and then, I go after it.

And what I learn along the way, I can pass it on to Alec. I might even be able to pass it on to others. When I first started writing these lessons for Alec, I called it “Lessons from a king to a king.” What began with the teachings I received from King Solomon’s writing in the Book of Proverbs, are now lessons to my little king. They are The Royal Lessons.

Here we go again…

Below is the post on my bio page. After I posted it, I began to think it might be appropriate as my first post. The primary focus of this blog is for what I call The Royal Lessons. These are life lessons that I want to pass to my son, Alec. In an upcoming post I will explain in greater detail what The Royal Lessons are and why it gets such a high name.

I have always been on journey, looking and searching for something. And though something is not nothing, I have rarely been focused on one thing. As a soldier way back in the 1990’s, my focus turned to reading. I used to love reading as a child and for some reason stopped. Out of pure boredom during a field exercise, I borrowed a used Anne Rice book. I loved it. After finishing it, I read almost all of her books. Next, I looked back on the books I had a mild interest in during my high school years. I started to reread them. I started reading classics. At the time I was relatively young in my newfound reading hobby. I actually started running out of things to read, because I really did not know what to read. Back then, my reading journey took me on an amazing ride, so much that some of my most memorable times involved a book.

In time, I began to wonder if I had a story to tell. That simple thought invaded my being. It started to transform my view of what my journey was supposed to be. It was also one of the most overwhelming ideas I ever had. How could I with very little training be so bold as to assume that I could be a writer? But the idea was eating at me, and so I began to dabble.

Dabble is what I did for years. People would ask what I wanted to do in the future. I would tell them that I wanted to write. They would ask me what I had written. I would respond with a pitiful “not much.” Why, because I dabbled. I wasn’t regimented. I wasn’t disciplined. I even used to tell myself I needed to live more to be able to write the books I wanted. I wasn’t experienced enough. The truth was I was just a dabbler pretending to want to be a writer.

My first blog was short-lived. It was after the birth of my son, Alec. I felt this overwhelming need to start writing again, if not for my sake, then at least for his sake. I realized that one of the most important things I could do in my life was be a really great father. It was my duty. Part of that duty was to leave a legacy. I wanted to let my son know of his heritage. I owed that to him and my ancestors. In addition, I wanted to let him know of my journey. There were a lot of ups and even more downs, and more importantly there was a lesson for each one.

That first blog started off well, but then I lost focus. I thought I had to have a really interesting picture for each post. The pictures became as important as the writing. I also tried self-hosting. When things started to go wrong technically, I stopped writing just so I could focus on getting the website functional again. Soon, I wasn’t writing at all.

So here is my next go-around. I still have a legacy to leave for Alec. In the last two years I have stayed busy. Busy means that I was procrastinating in my writing. Hopefully, this blog will demonstrate that I am still evolving as a person. My focus has become singular. I’m locked into the idea that I need to become a complete person, and this journey will be part of the legacy I leave for my son and for those that take the time to read this blog. Thank you.