Notes on life: An introduction

A close friend and his wife are having their first child. I decided to write a guide to life for the new human. I’ll give them a chapter a year for their first 18 years unless I end up disappearing before I can complete that. If I do, hopefully someone else will pick up the baton…

Hello. I’m your uncle Mic — related by friendship rather than genetics — and as I write this, stood on a wet train platform in the city where your father and I grew up, you have been in existence for 12 weeks.

That’s why I can’t greet you by name in this chapter. You are not male or female yet. You are pure potential, existing in the most glorious peace on our planet, floating safe and undisturbed in your mother’s womb.

When you finally emerge some months from now, there’ll be a lot of sound and emotion. You were planned and very much wanted. You’ll cry and keep your parents up at night and they will adore you regardless. And I’ll be around now and then to give you advice if you want it and commiserate when mum and dad just don’t get it.

Cool uncles get the easy ride. We can bring presents and sympathy, not routine and discipline. Know this: Before you got here, your parents were already astounding people. You will just bring even more out of them — reserves of strength, kindness and ingenuity they did not know they had before.

Maybe I have kids by the time you’re reading this, maybe I don’t. Maybe I’m dead. One of the rules this world so frequently reinforces is that you cannot assume very much. Life is both incredibly resilient and entirely fragile.

As I write this, you are totally defenseless. By the time you read this, I hope you are strong, smart, clever and kind. I’d bet you are.

The point of this book — I’m writing one chapter a year — is to share some of the things I’ve learned and been taught about navigating around this planet. I don’t expect you to agree with it all or even to put any of it into practice. This is just my point of view. Your mileage will vary, as they say.

Writer, editor and internet arguer.

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