Today’s guest letter comes from Ryan Eland, father of Adeline. Ryan resides in Tempe, AZ by way of Seattle, Washington.
My name is Ryan Eland and I am a dad – clearly. Before that I am a husband. And before that, I am a child to a perfect dad. For a job, I do things with websites. I like board games – really, I do. I also like to drink delicious coffee and swim. Finally, I am ecstatic to be able to contribute to this great blog. I hope you enjoy my occasional thought explosions.
A few months ago, I decided to plow through Les Miserable – the book, not the musical. It’s mostly mind numbing 19th century French history punctuated by searing insights into the human condition. When I first read it, the following quote left me speechless and teary.
Allow me a quick diversion. Don’t marry a man who wears his “never cried” Boy Scout badge. It’s not manly – it’s childish. He is an emotional cluster of crap that you want no part of. I am more than willing, however, to make him cry. I will make your boyfriends cry – all of them.
Enough of that. Here is the quote.
Jean Valjean had undertaken to teach her to read. Sometimes, as he made the child spell, he remembered that it was with the idea of doing evil that he had learned to read in prison. This idea had ended in teaching a child to read. Then the ex-convict smiled with the pensive smile of the angels…and he became absorbed in revelry. Good thoughts have their abysses as well as evil ones.
You can choose how you feel
At some point, or as I have come to understand the fairer sex – at many points, a mean girl is going to unload her pent up shame and insecurity on you. Sadly, some of these comments, subtle looks, conversations behind your back and not invitations to parties will send you into an abyss of evil thoughts.
These types of dark abysses can be a doozy. Thought and emotion swirl together in what can only be described as an emotional sharknado. As an aside, I apologize for this monument to the self-involved ironic sense of humor that defined my generation. This film certainly jumped the shark…nado. Bam!
Here is the hard truth: nobody made you feel bad. To be clear, I am not abdicating the responsibility of that particular mean person. What I am doing, however, is opening your eyes to an incredible reality. You are not obligated to feel bad because somebody else wants you to. Here is a helpful equation.
Thought leads to Emotion leads to Action
Your thoughts stand guard over your emotions like Princess Celestia stands guard over Equestria. For readers who are not Ralph Amsden and who don’t have daughters, this is like Batman guarding Gotham City.
Adeline, sweetie, you have the right to guard your emotions. Speak truth to yourself and believe that truth when somebody is unloading anger, shame or pain in your direction.
Do not let another human being define your reality.
Fall into the beauty
Here is the second truth: It’s OK to feel good. Lose yourself in the abysses of beauty, joy, peace, hope and optimism. I’m our dad. I love you. Go there.
Allow yourself to follow beauty to its end – don’t cut it short. Indulge in beauty like you indulged in that strawberry milkshake last week.
To many, you will be naïve and flighty. They will scorn you for not being realistic. You will find that these self-proclaimed “realists” very seldom assert the positive outcome as the likeliest.Funny that.
They will try to bring you into what they deem to be reality. Here is the key, they are not trying to impart objective reality but are trying to bring you into their personal subjective reality. As much as they would have you think otherwise, cynical people haven’t cornered the “reality” market.
Never feel shame for having hope.
Jean Valjean understood the sublime truth that entangled him. He initially learned to read for some evil purpose and presently found himself using this skill to empower a traumatized little girl. He plunged into the abyss of this thought. He didn’t write it off, explain it away or dismiss it. He grabbed it and loved it.
Adeline, beauty surrounds you. Let these beautiful things, whether large or small, pull you into their abysses.