Lessons From My Father

Happy Father’s Day, dad.

My father was a renaissance man. He was a poet, a mathematician and a historian. One of the smartest people I ever knew, and one with great humility at that. My dad was also the happiest man I ever knew. He truly lived for joy.

On this Father’s Day, I honor my dad’s legacy by sharing with you a few things I learned from him.

Lesson 1: Reading is a Love Affair

When I was 8, my dad gave me a collection of simplified Shakespeare plays to read. That marked an inflection point in my life where I fell in love with reading. It’s become my escape. My adventure. My solace. My dad read a lot. I mean, A LOT. He was always consuming books on poetry, history and current affairs. I share my dad’s love for reading, but unlike him, I love reading novels, especially historical fiction. Although recently, it seems like the only books I’ve been reading have been business and tech books :/

Lesson 2: Critical Thinking is Fundamental

My dad always asked the question, “why?” He showed me how to never take “facts” for granted and always learn why things were the way they were. He taught me to keep an open mind but always form my own opinion based on what made sense to me and not follow in the footsteps of others just because it’s convenient. For a conservative Muslim man, my dad was extraordinarily accepting and tolerant. He was his own man. I always admired that about him and have strived to be like him.

Lesson 3: The Glass is Always Half Full

My dad was the ultimate optimist. Nothing depressed him or made him blue. I don’t ever remember my dad being depressed or stressed out about anything. “Everything will be OK” was his motto. Although things didn’t always turn out OK for him, he always found a way to revel in the silver lining. I will never fully understand how he did it, but I do see some of his endless optimism in me. Although it’s not always easy to find opportunity in a bad situation.

Lesson 4: Everything is a Math Problem

As I mentioned earlier, my dad was a very smart man. Super smart, in fact. He was a math whizz. He was able to explain the most complex concepts in calculus and algebra in a way that made them so easy to grasp. He showed me how to turn any problem into a mathematical equation. A function with derivatives and limits. How derivatives can be your best friend when determining the minimum or maximum value of anything. How fun it was to go through that exercise and get that answer you’ve been looking for. I’m not really good at this, but the fact that I had a dad that took the time to even introduce me to such concept was blessing enough.

Lesson 5: We are The Sum of Our Stories

My dad was a superb storyteller. Captivating and enchanting. People loved listening to him and his stories. He regaled our guests with accounts from history, literature and art. My dad himself was in fact a collection of stories. Stories of military discipline, war lessons, growing up in a big family in Cairo, Egypt, etc. He taught us that without our stories, we are truly bankrupt.

Thank you for all that you taught me, dad. Your lessons made me the man I am today and for that I’m grateful.

Rest in peace. I love you.

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