Terribly important are the ways of the world, the giant ebb and flow of time’s tides, and how what we know and what we do shapes what will be – for each of us and for society. But important too are little things – for which the world can wait, the bounce of a ball, overdue call, little footsteps down the hall, simple stuff and small, but real not fluff, so not small at all.
My son was a Boy Scout, and so my life grew thick with camping trips, no phone, no internet, and no regret. Our time together, those precious days, flew by and yet they linger still, powerful and formative, as much for me as for my son. My daughter ran, rode, and danced and was for me life’s cause, always cause enough to pause.
Among things the world surely thinks are small, was baseball – watching games, my son – a shortstop, long dives, quick shags, two hours of recorded stats, tense at bats; on his toes, ever ready, then he stopped it, threw, another out, another look, another game in life’s big book.
My daughter too was everything, quiet, ready, steady, start, and run – breathless up another hill, rounding hard another turn, courage in her heart, driving legs that burn; or managing a one ton horse with poise and discipline, just leaning in, another fence on feel, a little girl made of steel.
How did she guide him with no fear, gentle touch – the unheard whisper in his ear? How did she channel life’s frustrations and concussions like a deer and yet, chips when it counted, another pirouette?
Studying hard – both of them – how did they put the craziness of politics and the world aside? How did they know, because it was so, their Dad thought what mattered was very simple, just doing their honest best, keeping stride, steady effort, just what they could give on a given day.
Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Some days things happened the way they wished, some days they never would. But always, they tried, an earnest try. Why did they do that, why did they care? The longer I live, the more I think – it was part heart, and because we were there.
Such a simple thing really, in the life of a child, sister, brother, father, mother, maybe just a neighbor on the mend, straggler, stranger, sudden friend – knowing someone cares, that you are there.
So much of life is around us and not far away, not big and important, just easy to forget. We have 24-hour news, allies and adversaries, media to use; we have political thrusts and parries, a president, congress, culture in a mess. What fool would pause to think we are blessed?
But here is the secret, and it will lift your day – keep you straight. People need you, as you need them, now and on every future date. You can change their lives, alter the trajectory of their fate, make all the difference by being there, being involved. Those we affect the most are close.
Politics and global issues matter; they shape the world, they give it form. We chase them daily, curse them freely, do what we can to get things right, and well we should, but big things frustrate the best among us. Power to change them is limited. Important too are things for which…the world can wait. Nothing so restores the soul, sense of purpose, place ,mission, and gives us the strength for another mile – as the sudden, heartfelt appearance of a smile.
Sometimes it is good to recall the other things, the bounce of a ball, the overdue call, the little footsteps down the hall. Nothing is more important in the end than love of family and care of a friend, just simple stuff but real not fluff, and…not so small at all. So take heart, give heart, and know – that your power to change a life is real. The Republic is important, but sometimes…the world can wait.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.
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What a delightful and refreshing article. I especially liked, “Nothing so restores the soul,…as the sudden, heartfelt appearance of a smile,” We all need to smile more and listen more carefully to the ones we love the most.
Thank you for the reminders of the great of privilege of parenthood. I think, certainly myself, that we experience many great moments with our children yet always wish we had done more.
Thanks for sharing this great article. But I think that all of us should know history so that we do not repeat the bad things again & that includes keeping up with World affairs.
The sentence you wrote ” Nothing so
restores the soul , sense of purpose, place , mission , and gives us the strength for another mile – as the sudden, heartfelt appearance of a smile.” – is appreciated very much. The woman in my life passed away 12 years ago. Our relationship was based on respect for each other, understanding each other , caring for each other – add those together and that is genuine love. So, even though she isn’t around anymore I have never felt as if she is gone, just thinking about her at times when the soul , sense of purpose, place or mission need to be restored and it feels like she is still here . Rest in peace, Crystal,
We shared joyful times together, and shared a respect for the teachings of Christ and having a sense of purpose.
We were able to give each other the gift of laughter often, as well as the strength, courage , wisdom and understanding from being best friends in this life. Your article is a great reminder of what is truly important in this life.
The truth never spoken so elegantly, it usually comes with age for most of us but others seem to just get it, early on. There’s nothing more important than family, and nothing more enjoyable than simple pleasures.
May God bless each and everyone of you.
This article is spot-on! It seems to me, if you have the love of your family, friends & life, it makes it easier to put all the negativity into perspective. You begin to realize what matters and what doesn’t! Thanks for reminding us of this, Mr. Charles.
Very poetic; a tribute to family.
I’m afraid too many kids today have an electronic device in front of them practically nonstop. No playing, fishing, outdoor games, communing with nature, etc. How about riding a bike if the woke gestapo don’t get you for not wearing a suit of armor?
Thanks for a great article. What a terrific way to start my day. Ed