One of the great American singers reveals his lessons learned about learning, love, and fear — as well as the moment he decided to not become a priest.

I was born and raised in a community where if somebody can’t eat, the whole town goes to feed him. Therefore the community survives. You know when cancer is serious? When it strikes someone in your family. You know when hunger is serious? When it strikes someone in your family. You know when homelessness is serious? When it strikes someone in your family.

I don’t care if I just left the king’s palace. I don’t care if I’m the poorest guy in the world. I want to come home, sit on my couch, and like my couch. I want to like my refrigerator. Follow me? I want the thrill of waking up in the morning and walking from the bedroom all the way to the kitchen and back to the bedroom. Ah! I forgot to get dressed. That’s happiness. It’s not how many people are calling you “Mr. Richie.” Do you like your kids? Yes. More importantly, do they like you?

When I was a boy, about to leave my dad with my friends, my dad would go, “Hey boy, where you goin’? You forgot something.” Oh, Jesus Christ, Dad. I’ve got to kiss you in front of my guys? Yeah, you do. Then one day, a guy says to me, “You kiss your dad?” And I say, “Yeah. Yeah, I kiss my dad.” And the guy said, “I’m not allowed to kiss my dad. My dad only wants me to shake hands.” And that’s when I realized how lucky I was.

For more wisdom from Lionel Richie, read his full What I’ve Learned at Esquire.com.

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