When I learned to write, my words were speaking purely from my head. I was a smart kid and I thought I knew everything. I learned to write well enough to express my ideas. Then I learned to write factual news and sports and features in a style which newspapers wanted. But something odd eventually happened. About seven or eight years ago, I learned to be vulnerable and open — and the words I wrote started coming from my heart instead. That was transformative for me. But while the head is satisfied to make a point strongly one time and move on, the heart needs to keep speaking, over and over, as its emotional depth runs over. Because of this, I constantly find my heart needing to express love and longing and hope and other things, but I find that I’ve said these things before — and I can’t imagine someone wants to hear them again. Then I remember the words to a beautiful song by Terry Scott Taylor about speaking truth from the heart. He wrote, “Love is a question mark. Life’s in a shadow box. God hides himself sometimes inside a paradox. And there may not ever be anything here new to say, but I’m fond of finding words that say it in a different way.” My heart overflows with love and need and longing, and I have no choice but to keep finding new ways to express what my heart needs to say. Again and again. Because it never goes away.
I know people who spend more than $200 every month with their television provider. At the end of every day, the people of those families disappear into separate rooms to enter different worlds of television, movies and gaming. They tell me their lives would be boring otherwise. I can’t tell them they’re wrong, but I do know the things that mean the most to me are more analog than digital. Lucy and I just got back from walking through the peaceful downtown of the sleepy suburb where we live. She loves sniffing everything and watching the sights and sounds. Traffic is endlessly fascinating to her. And I get to walk and think about life — about problems and goals and working all sorts of things out. Lucy isn’t concerned with the same things I am, but she’s a great listener. The things that bring us joy and meaning don’t have to cost money. I suspect it’s far better for mental health than more typical modern entertainment. Now if I just had a wife and some children to come along for the walks, things would be even better. There’s a lot of peace to be found in simple joys which are completely free.
Most adults are so busy trying to force little children to act like miniature adults that they don’t allow kids the healthy development they need. Researcher Erika Christakis says this is because most adults don’t seem to understand the importance of being little. Christakis is a former faculty member of the Yale Child Study Center, and she says today’s parents are so eager to “invest in the future” for their children that they completely lose sight of the fact that being “little” — and doing child-like things — will give their children better outcomes than their “adultification” of childhood. Children desperately need more unstructured play and more unstructured time in general with adults who are willing to allow them to be little investigators rather than sponges for stuffing with dry facts. The very things which most affluent parents believe are helping their children get ahead are setting them up for failure instead.