Tag Archives: India

10 Places I Want to Visit

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” –Augustine of Hippo

Hello friend,

Nineteen years ago, I was flying back from my second great European adventure. I had just spent some quality weeks wandering through the most beautiful and memorable places. I had ridden the train through the Black Forest of Germany and into the mountains of Austria. I had eaten authentic Weiner schnitzel and pure grape juice with the sweetest family at a small vineyard outside of Vienna. I had soaked in the healing waters of a Budapest bathhouse with a bunch of very old Hungarians. I had lost my soul while visiting the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. I had been charmed by the whimsical beauty of Prague and the Czech Republic, and meandered back through the simple beauty of Germany to catch my plane for home.

All of those life-changing places and adventures were swirling through my mind as the pilot’s voice came over the speakers: “Sorry to interrupt the movie, folks, but we are just reaching Greenland. It is out the right side of the plane. And believe me, it is better than any movie!”

Luckily for me, I was on the right side of the plane. When the woman next to me opened the shade, time stopped completely. I was spellbound. My breath was taken from me. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

When the enchanting, snow-covered mass was finally out of sight, I pulled out my journal and tried to find the words to describe a kind of magnificence that was truly indescribable. After doing my best to jot down some intelligible thoughts, I mostly gave up, fully aware of my limitations as a writer in the face of the Universe’s grandeur.

In reading back the final sentences of my journal entry from that day on the plane, it is plain just how awestruck and at a loss I was: “I don’t know. The picture, I suppose, is worth a thousand words, but I really can’t describe the wonder of it. It was a land of fantasy, a dream-like majesty. Or, taken from another side, an endless sea of desolation…..It just went on and on in infinite beauty. That is what I will remember about it.”  

Later, I wondered what it would be like to visit such a unique place. After pondering the prospects—visions of me trying desperately to stalk some wild creature below the ice while freezing to death in a land too cold for vegetation–I decided that Greenland is probably one of the few places on Earth best suited to appreciating from a distance.

But there aren’t many places like that. Mostly we need to be somewhere to truly appreciate it. I have always loved to learn, and one of the most important discoveries of my life is that traveling is the best form of education (I love Mark Twain’s quote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”). Meeting new people, learning about different cultures, soaking up the wonders of nature, and finding Peace in the process. “All good things, all good things,” as my friend Olaf would say.

Thinking this week about that European adventure and the magnificence of Greenland, my old traveling soul got stirred up. I decided to come up with a list of places I would love to visit for the first time, whether to explore or simply melt into the beach and bask in the beauty. I am thinking of myself here, not taking into account that my kids never leave my side. And I admit from the outset that I am heavily biased at the moment, as the wind chill has been below freezing in Minnesota in this final week of April. So, don’t be surprised if we end up with a lot of tropical selections!

At any rate, here we go, in no particular order, with my Top Ten Places I’d Like To Visit:

  1. India. I admit that this one is cheating, since it is a huge country, but there are just so many different areas I would like to see, from sacred religious sites to crowded cities to secluded villages in the Himalayas. I named my firstborn child after this place—that’s how long it has been living in me!
  2. Bali, Indonesia. From everything I have read and seen about this place—the extreme warmth of the people, the beauty of the landscape, the pristine beaches—I feel a spiritual connection. I am enchanted!
  3. Yosemite National Park, California. This is a weird one for me. Don’t get me wrong, I imagine it is full of scenic vistas and wonderful hikes. But I can’t help but think that I am only intrigued by it because I want to see what all the hype is about (because I secretly think that my favorite, Glacier National Park in Montana, will put its more famous cousin to shame). Either way, I want to go.
  4. Belize.  This is definitely all about the quiet, peaceful beach vacation, with just enough adventure–via world-class snorkeling spots–to keep it interesting. Actually, Belize, even though it is on the mainland of North America, is kind of the placeholder spot for almost any beautiful Caribbean island beach paradise (insert Jamaica, St. Martin, Dominican Republic, etc.). I have some exploring to do in that neck of the woods!
  5. London, England. This giant is one of the few European biggies that I haven’t visited. And even though I am curious to check it out, its spot on my list is mostly about one particular neighborhood at one particular time of year: Wimbledon, early July. The shrine of Tennis. I would like to attend all four Grand Slam events, actually—amazing trips to London, Paris, New York City, and Melbourne, Australia (yes, please!)—but I would settle for Wimbledon.
  6. Alaska.  This one is a bit of a cheat, too, as Alaska is huge. But if I was in the neighborhood, hey! I would take a trip to Denali (maybe even try to find the bus from Into the Wild), “flightsee” over a mountain range, wander down the Kenai, and hopefully spot some whales and other creatures around the fjords. The Last Frontier!
  7. Kenya/Tanzania, Africa. These two countries get the slash because I would not quibble over an opportunity to take a photo safari through either one (and they are neighbors!). I have always dreamed of this. One day…..
  8. New Zealand. This just seems like good territory for taking a walk. A long walk. Remember The Lord of the Rings? It was all filmed here. The next time the hobbits go out for a wander, I am tagging along!
  9. Amazon Rain Forest, Brazil. I might be freaked out the entire time about being eaten by an anaconda or piranhas or some other invention of my mind, but it would also be so amazing to be amongst all of that Life.
  10. Bora Bora, French Polynesia. I couldn’t resist one more tropical beach! I love the idea of being way out in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from a continent. Of course, visions of those over-the-water bungalows on stilts are appealing, too! I get giddy when I see that clear, turquoise water.

That’s it! Well, of course that isn’t it. There are so many more new places I want to visit, even in my own state. But those ten are the ones topping my Wish List today. I love the feeling these fantasies give me. My adventurous spirit is absolutely tickled right now! I can feel the little perma-grin on my face, too; it hasn’t left since I started thinking about this. The world is such a magnificent playground. Fly me away!

How about you? What new place do you feel like traveling to today? Open up your journal and spin the globe. Where do you want your finger to land? Is there one place that comes immediately to mind? Is it somewhere you have always dreamed about? What has kept you from getting there? How disappointed will you be if you never make it there? How about the rest of your list? Are most of them places that have been on your radar for a long time? Which ones are the most recent additions to your list? What draws you to them? Are your places more about physical adventures (e.g. climbing Mt. Everest in Nepal), learning about something new (e.g. Incan ruins in Peru), or a good spot to relax (e.g. the beaches of the Seychelles)? Are any about connecting with your heritage (e.g. a visit to meet distant relatives in Ireland)? What about a service destination (e.g. a friend of mine just volunteered at an orphanage in Sierra Leone)? A spiritual pilgrimage (e.g. Jerusalem)? How many of them are you seriously determined to get to? How many of them are out of your comfort zone? Will those be the most rewarding? Which one are you most likely to get to first? How soon? Leave me a reply and let me know: What are your aspiration destinations?

Make your life an adventure,

William

P.S. If this got your daydreams into high gear or put a smile on your face, pass it on. We could all use a happy fantasy once in a while!

100 Loves

“We don’t need to have just one favorite. We keep adding favorites. Our favorite book is always the book that speaks most directly to us at a particular stage in our lives. And our lives change. We have other favorites that give us what we most need at that particular time. But we never lose the old favorites. They’re always with us. We just sort of accumulate them.” –Alexander Lloyd

Hello friend,

Allow me to light up your day! Come along with me and play a game we will call “100 Loves”. The rules are simple. I will name a category, and all you have to do is quickly name ten of the things you love most in that category. There will be ten categories, so ten lists of ten. Hence, 100 Loves!

My one caveat/suggestion: Don’t try to get your list exactly right! In any of the categories, of course there will be many contenders to make your Top Ten. Don’t give in to the temptation to agonize over which ones get those last few spots and which get left off the list. Just write the first ten that come to you. [Secret from the game designer: no one is going to bust you for making your lists a bit longer. If longer feels better, go for it!] This is all about thinking of things that give you good memories, inspirations, warm fuzzies, giggles, and smiles. If you are feeling pressure to get your list right, you are playing the game wrong. And just because you are making a list from one to ten, this is not about dividing up your heart into exact amounts. As long as your answers make you feel good, anywhere on the list is wonderful. Don’t rank them! Got it? Good! Let’s play!!!

Category #1: Books

  1. Walden—by Henry David Thoreau (my all-time favorite piece of literature)
  2. Autobiography of a Yogi—Paramahansa Yogananda
  3. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
  4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—Robert Pirsig
  5. Into the Wild—Jon Krakauer
  6. The War of Art—Steven Pressfield
  7. The Catcher in the Rye—J.D. Salinger
  8. Conversations With God (series)—Neale Donald Walsch
  9. On the Road—Jack Kerouac
  10. The Kite Runner—Khaled Hosseini

Category #2: Foods

  1. Monster Cookies (the ones my wife makes are divine and so naughty!)
  2. Garlic Bread
  3. Root Beer Floats (A&W preferred)
  4. Giant Burritos from Chipotle (I like them all!)
  5. Caramel Rolls (the ones my Mom makes are the best!)
  6. Grilled Halibut
  7. Dr. Pepper (I am not really a soda drinker, but when I indulge, the Doctor is in!)
  8. Pizza (I am not picky, but a simple pepperoni is lovely.)
  9. Smoothies (the one that my kids call “Mango Pineapple Pink” is delightful!)
  10. Chocolate Malt (made by my daughter after school—heavenly!)

Category #3: Inspirational Figures

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr.—Live your purpose. “The time is always ripe to do right.”
  2. Mohandas Gandhi—“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” He was.
  3. Henry David Thoreau—Be unapologetically you. Don’t just exist; LIVE!
  4. Ellen DeGeneres—Be you, be kind, and be generous. Oh yeah, and be silly.
  5. Mastin Kipp—Follow your heart. Stick with your biggest dream.
  6. Barack Obama—With the audacity of hope and lots of work, anything is possible.
  7. Dalai Lama—Spread positivity to every corner of the world. Be happy!
  8. Jimmy Carter—Spotlight or not, do good for all of the days of your life.
  9. Van Jones—In the most contentious of times, reach out across that chasm to find that we are rather more alike than we are different. Lead with love.
  10. My daughter, India—A contented soul makes the best company. Kindness first.

Category #4: Music Videos

  1. “Beat It”—Michael Jackson. Love that fight/dance scene!
  2. “Centerfold”—J. Geils Band. Those first bars were unmistakable and sent whoever was manning the family room TV into hysterics, yelling, “Centerfold’s on! Centerfold’s on!” so that the rest of the house would come running.
  3. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”—Cyndi Lauper. With Captain Lou Albano as her Dad, how could this not make the list? It really was fun!
  4. “Her Mercy”—Glen Hansard. One of the few from my adulthood. My spirit rises with it. So beautiful.
  5. “She’s A Beauty”—The Tubes. I can’t explain it; I just loved this from the start.
  6. “Parents Just Don’t Understand”—DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. There’s no need to argue.
  7. “Headphones”—Matt Nathanson. A documentary set to music. Makes me smile through my tears.
  8. “I Love Rock & Roll”—Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. This is everything about my childhood. The best anthem!
  9. “Brave”—Sara Bareilles. It is a masterpiece of inspiration and fun.
  10. “Thriller”—Michael Jackson. An absolute EVENT. Captivating!

Category #5: Actors

  1. Julianne Moore
  2. Don Cheadle
  3. Cate Blanchett
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis
  5. Emma Thompson
  6. Anthony Hopkins
  7. Kate Winslet
  8. George Clooney (man crush)
  9. Helena Bonham Carter
  10. Sean Penn

Category #6: Games

  1. Taboo—a highly amusing holiday tradition with my extended family!
  2. Ping Pong
  3. Mario Kart on Wii—I love this with my kids!
  4. Yahtzee—classic!
  5. Super Mario Brothers on Nintendo—my Mom bought one of the Classic Nintendo consoles at Christmas, and between my sister, brother-in-law, and my kids, that game was going continuously the entire holiday break. Ahh, nostalgia for the many hours wasted on that game in the old days….
  6. Foosball
  7. H-O-R-S-E (Basketball)
  8. Capture the Flag—My brother and I still get the kids going on this one at the lake every Summer. This was my backyard in the Summers of my youth. So much fun and so many memories!
  9. Rock Band on Wii—because, at one point or another, we all dreamed of being in a band, right?
  10. Scattergories—Great for a large group. Inevitably funny.

Category #7: People (Not immediate family to take the guilt out of it)

  1. Gabrielle
  2. Uncle Bob
  3. Aunt Caryl
  4. Ruby Red
  5. Karen a.k.a. lizzy
  6. Cousin Becca
  7. Aysun
  8. Phil
  9. Foley
  10. Uncle Lloyd

Category #8: Songs

  1. I Go To Work—Kool Moe Dee
  2. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters—Elton John
  3. Rochester—Mat Kearney
  4. No One—Alicia Keys
  5. Shame On You—Indigo Girls
  6. Walking In Memphis—Marc Cohn
  7. Let’s Get It On—Marvin Gaye
  8. Mrs. Potter’s Lullabye—Counting Crows
  9. Stand By Me—Ben E. King
  10. Seasons of Love—The Cast of “Rent”

Category #9: Activities

  1. Sledding
  2. Rollerblading
  3. Surfing
  4. Building a snowman
  5. Playing catch
  6. Hiking
  7. Kayaking
  8. Swimming
  9. Yoga
  10. Slip-n-Slide

Category #10: Movies

  1. Dead Poets Society
  2. The Thin Red Line
  3. Stand By Me
  4. Cinema Paradiso
  5. Slumdog Millionaire
  6. Almost Famous
  7. Home for the Holidays
  8. Beautiful Girls
  9. Moulin Rouge
  10. Life is Beautiful

Whew! We made it to 100! That was just a ton of fun! When I was making it up and deciding on categories, it seemed like fun, but it was so much more than that. It was nostalgic. It was emotional. It was deeply gratifying. Truly, that is what I take away from it: an astounding Gratitude for all of the wonderful blessings in my life, past and present. I am grateful, smiling, and inspired. Hooray!

How about you? What’s on your list of 100 Loves? Which categories were the most enjoyable to list? Which ones were hardest to keep to only ten items (I had a tough time keeping my Movies list at ten and made an extra-long list for that one on my paper). Which categories were the most emotional for you? Which brought you the most smiles and laughs? Did you break out any music, movies, or YouTube while you wrote? Which list had your most favorite memories? Were there some lists that just didn’t do much for you? If we were to make a second 100 Loves, which categories should we add (I toyed with bands, writers, locations, movie lines, even apps)? Was this as fun for you as it was for me? I hope you are smiling, anyway. Thanks for playing along! Leave me a reply and let me know: What are your 100 Loves?

Savor Life,

William

P.S. If this made you smile, please share it. We could all use more of those!

A Mother’s Son: My Favorite Memories of Mom

 

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“But behind all your stories is your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”  –Mitch Albom

Hello friend,

I am a Momma’s boy. I admit it. Totally and completely. Guilty as charged.

My older brothers were always great at being my Dad’s boys.   They had the same interests, and their personalities fit together just right to make that manly-man relationship dynamic work. Even today, they are always on—or planning—some hunting or fishing expedition together, or telling stories about the last one. It is neat to watch them together and feel that kinship, that bond. I love how it works, even if I am relegated to watching it. Some circles, it seems, are not meant to expand. Our affinities cannot be forced. A square peg doesn’t fit into a round hole. Momma’s boys don’t make it onto the crew at Deer Camp.

But, Momma’s boys do get to share an indescribable, unbreakable bond with their mothers that is unlike any other. And, in addition to that special connection, they get to share a journey. They do LIFE together. They follow each other in spirit, because that is their destiny; it’s how they are wired. But the luckiest pairs get to actually ride along with each other in person, making beautiful memories as they go. I have had that lucky ride with my Mom.

I actually have a difficult time thinking of many specific moments with my mother, because she just seemed to always be there. She was at the helm on so many family roadtrips that were jam-packed with one happy memory after another. She was with me at every tennis match in every little town tournament I ever played in, all of which I remember. She has helped me pack and move my stuff all over the country on my long and winding path through this life, always supporting me. She has traversed the highways and byways of America with me as an adult—from Gettysburg to Glacier–always in search of new ways to educate me about our history and this great land. In these years when my mind and my life have seemed to be all over the map, my sweet and tireless Mom has been my faithful companion. My rock. The memories of my beautiful life begin and end with her.

What do I remember? Well, beyond my childhood days of uninterrupted love and wonder in her care, there are a few days and moments that stand out for me in our adult relationship. [Writer’s Note: It is really, really cool to get to be best friends with your Mom when you grow up, even while feeling that you will always, always be her little boy.] These are a few of my favorites:

When I decided it was time for me to leave Los Angeles in favor of wandering around Europe and figuring out what was next in life, my Mom, of course, got in the car and drove down from North Dakota to help me lug my stuff home (did I forget to mention that she is a saint, too?). On our way back, we stopped in Montana to see my brother for the night. We scooped him up in town and headed out to find a campsite in the wilds of that majestic land. He led us to a quiet, solitary spot along the river in a place that was aptly named Paradise Valley. I remember sitting on the river’s edge writing in my journal as my brother artfully casted his fly over the water, my mother looking on proudly. It was beautiful in every way. Later in the evening, we cooked dinner and told stories over a campfire, which invariably gives a conversation an air of simple Truth and authenticity. It was me and two of my most favorite people on Earth. It comforted me to know how much my Mom enjoyed spending that time with us. I felt pure there in Paradise with her.

A few years later, after wandering a bit but mostly secluding myself in my parents’ house to read and write, I decided to move (again) to Ohio to get my doctoral degree. I had also fallen in love and was going to be living in the same place as my girlfriend rather than across the country from one another. It was an enormous psychological leap for me to leave the friendly confines of my childhood home after a few years of holing up there in complete Bliss. It was probably comparable to my first day of kindergarten. Thankfully, in both cases, my Mom was there. She, of course, trailed me in my stuffed car as I rocked the UHaul cross-country for the umpteenth time. I remember standing there with her in the parking lot of my new apartment as she was about to head back home and leave me there to start my new life. We had just had the gift of a magical window of a few years to hang out and know each other as adults—a gift that very few parents and children receive–and now it was all ending, likely never to return. The gravity of that life-door closing was palpable. It had been an amazing ride. Through my tears, I said to her, “I feel like I am saying goodbye to my best friend.” I was.

Several years later, I found myself in a hospital room on a warm August night, dialing the phone with tears (again) rolling down my face. Following years of effort and heartbreak, I finally had a baby of my own. My angel, India. Since having the reins turned over to her by my Mom that day in Ohio, my wife had grown to understand the special nature of my relationship with my mother. I didn’t have to fight too hard to be allowed to give my first-born child the middle name of Jacqueline, after her grandmother, my Mom. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. So there I was on the phone that night, a tidal wave of emotions on an exposed nerve as I prepared to tell her the news. When I told her we had just had a baby girl, of course she asked what her name was. I could barely choke out the words, knowing how much the namesake meant to me and how much it would mean to her. There was a short silence on the line after I told her, as it seemed she had momentarily lost her breath. That moment was pure LOVE. It was every bit of my timeless, perfect connection to my Mom, only now it was cloaked in an all-new layer. This was the legacy, the next generation of a special relationship full of a lifetime of special memories.

I can only hope to be half the parent to India Jacqueline and her brother that my mother has been to me. I dream about the trips I want to take them on, to places I only know about because my Mom took me. I pray that I can be the friend to them that she is to me, the one they want to traverse the roads of Life with and share their proudest moments with. I hope that one day in the distant future—maybe when they have kids of their own—that they will look back fondly on the memories they made with their old man along the way, wishing they could pass on those same kind of memories and feel that same kind of special closeness. That would do my heart good. I will teach them well about the one who started this magical chain. My Mom. Thanks for the memories…..

How about you? What special memories do you have of your mother? Open up your journal and your heart, and write about the moments with her that have shaped you and stayed with you. What are your favorite moments? Are they big things, like trips or major events, or tiny, simple moments when everything is right just because Mom was there? What are the best adventures you have been on with your mother? What are your favorite intimate moments with your Mom, when it was just the two of you? Which memories that you have with her would you like to pass on to the next generation? What do you appreciate most about what your mother has brought to your life? Does she know how grateful you are? Maybe today is the day to let her know. Leave me a reply and let me know: What is your favorite memory of your mother?

Thank a Mom today,

William

Happy Father’s Day To Me!

DSC_0061“Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit.” –Bill Cosby, Fatherhood

Hello friend,

Imagine this life: every time you get dressed, you have two others to dress. For every time that you wash your hands now, you have to wash two more times. For every time that you go to the bathroom and wipe yourself, you have to wipe two others. For every time you wake up in the middle of the night, you are woken up twice as often by others. Every craving that you have and satisfy, you must do the same for two others. Every seatbelt. Every meal. Every teeth-brushing. Every shoe-tying. EVERY ONE. EVERY DAY. Just multiply everything you do now by three and you will get the picture.

Is it clear? No? Okay, well add to this the idea that you never get to watch what you want on television, never get to eat at a restaurant, never get to sleep in (ever!!!), never use the bathroom alone, never keep your clothes clean (or your house, car, etc.), never get to go on dates, must give up some favorite hobbies, must give up feeling rested and alert, and just generally go along like you are barely hanging on. Oh yeah, and the two others that you are feeding, washing, and wiping are crying a lot in the process, not nearly as eager to get on with your day as you are. 

NOW is the visual clear to you? Good. This is the life of a parent of two young kids. My life, to be specific. Sound appealing? No? I know, I know, to any childless person reading this, you are probably thinking, “I wouldn’t do that for a billion dollars! Why would I give up my life for THAT? I don’t get it; why do people do that? It sounds awful. Like he lost his identity. No thanks!” When you look at the surface of it, I have to admit that I agree with you. It doesn’t sound like any fun at all. It is a lot of work. It’s taxing. It’s stressful. It is sometimes infuriating. It is all the time exhausting. So, what gives?

Imagine a different life. For every time someone cracks you up laughing, multiply that feeling by ten. For every time someone else’s little successes in life fill your soul with pride and gratitude, multiply that by one hundred. For every time the power of your hug can make everything better, multiply that feeling by a thousand. For every time you are an integral part of something downright miraculous, multiply that feeling by a hundred thousand. For every time someone’s smile melts your heart, multiply that feeling by a million. For every time someone drops everything when they see you, screams your name, and runs to you with open arms to give you hugs and kisses like you are the greatest thing ever, multiply that feeling by a billion. And then, after you finish with all of that math, take the greatest feeling you ever had in your life—when tears came to your eyes and your heart seemed like it would burst open because it felt so much love—and know that you will feel all that and more every single time your child says, “I love you, Daddy.” This is my life, too.

This is exactly why you cannot sell parenting to someone who is not a parent. On the surface, it just doesn’t make sense. Bill Cosby is right: it is irrational. But then you get past the surface and into that beautiful mess called the Heart. To have that one heart-bursting “I love you” from your own child is to understand how completely silly and futile it is use rational arguments to promote parenthood.   There aren’t words or numbers to explain the greatest of feelings. Many have tried and come up short. Now I count myself among them.

I never wanted kids. I didn’t. I went through my twenties in a state of blissful childlessness. I thought about the concept often–I had nieces that I absolutely adored, and I much preferred the company of kids to adults—but never felt any compulsion to have my own. I was so happy without them, and that felt like enough. It was enough.

And then one day, my mind changed. It wasn’t as though it didn’t feel like enough anymore; I can’t explain it, really. I just felt ready to give fatherhood a go. It seemed right. Fate intervened, however, perhaps to test my resolve after so many years of resisting the idea. My heart felt so ready, and yet suddenly the odds became stacked against my wife and I. In the ensuing years, we went on a rollercoaster of emotions, as doctors and social workers starred in the drama of our life. Instead of taking the denials as signs that I was truly not meant to be a father, I took them as signs that exactly the right child was not ready for me just yet.

And then one day, she was. My daughter, India, has the kindest, most loving spirit. She is absolutely brilliant, and her eyes have the serenity and beauty of two setting suns. She has held my heart so carefully since the night she was born. She reminds me every day that I am her best friend, and of course, melts me daily with her “I love you, Daddy.” Needless to say, she was worth waiting for.

After battling through so much time in doctors’ offices before India’s birth, her brother’s relatively drama-free arrival was something of a miracle. Isaiah has been enjoying the ride the entire way. He has the most funny, fun-loving spirit, and his eyes sparkle with an intoxicating blend of pure Joy and a splash of mischief. He makes me laugh more than anyone I have ever met, and then he gives the most sincere, passionate hugs and kisses. He is a one-of-a-kind charmer, my Best Man.

I cannot fathom a love greater than the one I feel for him and his sister, nor a gratitude greater than the one I feel for the gift of being their Daddy. It is, by a million miles, the greatest role I have ever played. And at the end of every single day—no matter how many fights I have broken up, messes cleaned, tears wiped, and bodily fluids worn—I find myself thinking, “That was awesome! Let’s do that again tomorrow.”

That is exactly why I cannot make a rational argument for fatherhood. I can’t explain it into attractiveness. I can only tell you that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I absolutely loved my life before kids. I was wildly happy and grateful; more so, it seemed to me, than anyone I knew. And yet, from the very moment of India’s birth, you couldn’t get me to switch roles with the old me for anything. Not a billion dollars. Not fame. Not achievement. Nothing. Like I said, logic and mathematics simply cannot explain it. No matter how much you put on one side of the scale, it is easily outweighed by that feeling in my heart when I walk in the door and hear the feet racing around the corner as they scream, “DADDY’S HOOOOOOOOME!!!!!!” Any moment after that far outweighs the other side, too—any goofy smile from Isaiah or story from India or race up the stairs that ends with us wrestling on the floor and giving tickles and raspberries until no one can breathe from laughing so hard. Those are all plenty.

But even if they weren’t, there is always that moment when I am putting India to bed, when I am about to get up and go, and she turns to me in the dark, pulls me in for a hug and kiss, and says, “I love you, Daddy. You’re the best Daddy ever!” I walk out of that room every night so totally certain that I am the luckiest guy that ever walked the Earth. I guess you could say that is enough. It is for me.

What about you? What makes your life so happy? Open up your journal and your heart, and then go for it. This is for everybody; you don’t have to be a parent to have magical, day-making moments that add up to become life-making years. If you are not a parent (or if you are but can remember your pre-child life), how fulfilling do you (did you) think parenting would be? How much fun/work/frustration/fulfillment did you think parenting would be based on how your parents were? In your current status as either a parent or childless, do you regret the path you have chosen, or wish you had done something sooner or later? If you have kids, do they know how much you love them and how proud you are of them? What is your relationship with your father? How do you feel about him? Have you told him? Maybe today is the day. Leave me a reply and let me know: Who are you thankful for today, and what are you going to do about it?

Happy Father’s Day,

William