Mind Over Miller: A letter to my children


Dr. Robert M. Miller passes life lessons and pearls of wisdom on to the next generation.

My wife, Debby, dug this column from the November 1987 issue of Veterinary Medicine up the other day and asked me to send a copy to our son and daughter. Re-reading it, I have not changed my philosophy since I wrote it, but I was 60 (that's when the human brain matures).

To my son and daughter: Both of you have left home, pursuing your education and your life. For the first time in nearly a quarter century, your mother and I are alone. Time for reflection … time to look back and realize that the best we can offer from now on is our counsel to help you with your decisions.

So here are some choice bits of advice, gleaned from my own life's experience and observations:

• Locate in an area with a diversified economic base. No matter how temporarily prosperous, if a region's economy is based on a single industry, it is at risk for an unexpected depression.

• Take an interest in politics and vote, but do not become passionately involved in the political scene. The constitution of the United States is, probably, the only political concept work risking one's life to preserve.

• Save your passions for your vocation, those you love, and the avocations that add meaning and interest to life.

• All the laws that govern man and all the philosophies ever conceived to elevate our species above the animal state can be reduced to one simple rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

• Remember that farmers survive, come peace or war, good times or bad, provided they own their land and they stay out of debt. The nearest thing to economic security is a piece of tillable land, and the good health and knowledge to work it.

• Don't pay interest if you can possibly avoid it. Even it is tax deductible, eventually the government will remove that benefit.

• Before you buy anything, ask yourself: Will it increase or decrease in value? If the answer is the latter, ask yourself how badly you want it. The only expendable commodity you must have is food. Everything else is a luxury, but you are entitled to luxuries if you have earned them.

• Preserve your health. It is your most precious asset, and eventually we all lose it and die.

• Be kind. Kindness if the single human quality which, when present, ennobles us, but when absent, reduces us to a savage state.

• Cherish your home, and by that I mean the planet Earth. Of all the billions of bodies in space, there are few, if any, like it. Realize that life, which is short and swift, gives us a brief but precious opportunity to experience the beauty and uniqueness of our world. Savor it.

• Think of us. Our love for you is infinite.

• Life is filled with adversity. Try to see the humor in it. Doing so will add greatly to your ability to be happy.

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at robertmmiller.com.

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