I’ve been reading a book that a great friend recommended to me called “Where the crawdads sing”, by Delia Owens. So far, it’s an artfully written book full of beautiful and vivid images the author paints for your mind’s eye combined with insightful nuggets of truth for you to ponder. Perfectly up my alley.
There’s a beautiful dialog in the book between father and son where the son complains to his father that he’s studying poetry in English class and doesn’t like it. The father’s retort is beautiful:
Don’t go thinking poetry’s just for sissies. There’s mushy love poems, for sure, but there’s also funny ones, lots about nature, war even. Whole point of it - they make ya feel something.
I love that. They make ya feel something.
So much of our lives are about things that don’t touch on the topic of feelings. We’re inundated with information, obsessed with learning and progressing, and laser focused on academics and achievement. But we’ve got to remember to feel. As Robin Williams puts it in Dead Poets Society:
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.
Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
Perfect. In the book, the author says of the father:
His dad had told him many times that the definition of a real man is one who cries without shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul, and does what’s necessary to defend a woman.
My sons, if I’m able to accomplish that, to impress that single line upon you, then I’ll be beyond ecstatic. Be strong men, yes. But strength is not only stoic and outwardly fearless. It also embraces vulnerability so that one can be known and understood. It is confident in the relationships and connections it has built enough for vulnerability, for sentiment, for sensitivity.
So my charge to you today is this: be strong and decisive men, yes, but take the time to do things that make you feel. Watch a beautiful sunset descending between the crevice in the mountains. Sit still and deeply listen to music that moves you. Rekindle an old connection. Embrace a friend fully and earnestly. Love big. And be loved big.
I love you, my boys.