When I was 16 I received an odd gift from my uncle. Uncle John, my namesake.
He gave me an old rusty artillery shell. About the size of a 1 liter water bottle, but much heavier. The metal cap was taped on with electrical tape.
He said he acquired the shell in college. It had always reminded him to aspire to solve conflicts without using violence.
He wanted to pass it on to me. He also said that he had placed something inside the shell. But I needed to wait for my 21st birthday to open it.
Now, Iím a guy who goes crazy waiting a week to open a present under the xmas tree, so this was insane. For years I wondered what was inside. Maybe a tiny bottle of champagne? Aging perfectly for my 21st birthday? But I didnít peek.
Sometime after midnight, a few minutes into my 21st birthday, I broke the seal.
Inside was a weight for a scale, a sand dollar, a fish hook, a screwdriver, and a tiny metal sailboat.
The next day, a letter arrived.
It explained the contents:
- The tiny weights were to remind me to maintain balance in life.
- The sand dollar was to remind me that money is not the only source of value.
- A fish hook was to remind me that giving a person fish feeds them for a day. Teaching them to fish feeds them for a lifetime.
- The screwdriver was to remind me the pleasure of being able to fix things yourself.
- The tiny sailboat was about always pursuing your dreams.
He said that when I get to be around 40, I should fill the shell and pass it on to another young adult.
It was probably the coolest gift ever.