Advice to My Son by Peter Meinke: Essay

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One of the great paradoxes in life is trying to impart wisdom that you’ve garnered in your own life to others while letting them retain their own identity. I have found in my own life, as many others have found in theirs, that it can be difficult to learn vicariously through another person, rather than having to learn from your own life experiences. Still though, there is probably not a single person who would say that if they had the knowledge and wisdom that they currently have at a young age, would not do some things differently. As such, every parent faces the difficult conundrum of trying to pass down to their children that which they have learned in their life in a way that is both relevant and convincing but also allows for the fact that their children are going to have to learn many of these lessons for themselves.

Peter Meinke sets out to do just this in his poem “Advice to My Son”. It is a heartfelt poem, which is beautiful both in how succinct it is, and also deep and powerful the advice really is. In it he not only tackles important day to day advice, but he also helps his son to resolve a question that lies at the heart of the contrast between the thinking of an older, wiser parent, and a younger, more naïve child. Should we live each day in the present, or spend our days preparing for the future?

Wikipedia defines Juxtaposition as “A placing or being placed in nearness or contiguity, or side by side, often done in order to compare/contrast the two, to show similarities or differences.” In the first stanza, the author starts by illuminating the juxtaposition between the temporal and the long term. He says to live your days as if each one may be your last, essentially saying that you need to savor the moment and appreciate the present, because the present is the only thing that we are guaranteed. He explains why by saying that our lives go by quickly, and there are many unfortunate events that befall people every day which end lives...
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