A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. – Thomas Jefferson

Lately my life has been an emotional roller coaster. Is this what people refer to as mid life crisis? Maybe I’m just finally getting back in touch with my feelings. I could get seriously mature at this point and talk about politics and religion because that’s what adults are supposed to do… but I’m going to take a chance and run with my emotions here for a moment.

I’d have to thank my wife for helping me along that road. Sixteen years ago we met over a poetry group that I founded and moderated at the U. Emotions were fierce and wonderfully inescapable.

These emotions are what drove my creativity … I think by the time we’re adults we’ve learned to suppress our emotions so much that we forget we have them … the life that used to be so brilliant and colorful when we were kids has become a sea of lackluster and that dreary adultness points a finger at “responsibility” when being more responsible has nothing to do with losing that edge.

It was that emotion that drove the creativity into writing music, poetry, art and photography. A good friend of mine, Jorge, who had more creative genius in his left foot than I had in both my hands found a girlfriend and was spending most of his time with her. That left me with only geeky buddies to hang out with and visit. Then I found a girlfriend and she was the hottest girl in the CS lab to be sure! Now she’s the hottest girl in my house!

So when it comes to emotions, adults are conditioned to forget about them, and that’s easy to do with television and computer games. Since I’ve cut those out I started to see life normal again.

Last night I read a book to my son. It has a picture of a playground and a boy at the top of the slide, looking out. I remember that moment – the first big slide I climbed. I was so high! It was amazing. Then I thought to myself … all those moments in life that followed where I got used to being taller off the ground made being as high as that slide not so exciting anymore: The first tall tower, the first flight, the first time falling in love… but each of those highs were different. They had different mindsets and observations. And each one is so wonderful they shouldn’t be forgotten or compared with the rest.

So why did I suppress my creativity? I was trained into it for one thing. It’s the politics, the corporate, the expectation to be proper and civilized. Go ask James Thurber about being civilized! … but more than that it’s childhood fears in an adult form that I haven’t faced and shook off.

I can’t run away from who God made me, but I’m so paranoid! I’m afraid of people watching me and calling me a failure face just like they did for years in school! Ugh! It still feels like they’re watching me and waiting for that chance to laugh at me all over again.

Like the daft Captain Hook – always looking for a chance to choke the life out of Peter Pan just to sneer at Pan’s failure. The adult psyche is always trying to kill the child psyche. In more modern terms, it’s like the dreaded Count Olaf – always watching … always near and just waiting to snatch up the little orphans’ souls (after all, that’s the most enormous fortune anyone’s got).

Dear Diary

I really like Rabi Daniel Lapin. Today’s email blast struck a chord on something I wanted to just mention an idea on.

I used to keep a diary. Trust me, it was a scary thing. I’m terribly embarrassed by it, now and have thought of creative ways to destroy the volumes of terrible emotional venting. I also wish that I had kept a journal or diary over the past ten years because so much growth has occurred during that time and some of the wisdom acquired has been lost. I have a terrible memory that serves me as well as an Applebees waiter on Sunday.

So today I’ve felt mostly down. When asked what’s wrong, the only response I could come up with that didn’t incriminate against myself was “I’m not living up to my potential.”

That statement in itself is true and generic enough to let people derive their own conclusions. Life, work, marriage, fatherhood, worship, leading, following, you name it.

Sometimes it feels good to be emotionally drained. It leaves more room for the happiness in the days that follow.

Twenty touches

Each night my children and I spend anywhere between fifteen minutes and two hours together. Most of that time is spent reading before bedtime, but that time is also used to reconnect.

Many years ago, my wife and I attended a Gary Smalley seminar where he briefly mentioned the importance of touch. It’s something we all need to live. So I thought to myself that if I don’t supply my children with enough positive words and touches each day then there may come a time in their teen years that they look for that need elsewhere and end up experimenting with touch in ways that isn’t allowed outside of marriage.

So I asked my kids, “Do you get enough loving touches throughout the day: pats on the head, pats on the back, hugs, kisses… stuff like that?” They all answered “no”. So I wondered – how much do they need? Then came the question. “How many times do you feel you would need to know you are loved?” The eldest child only thought briefly before saying her answer: “Twenty times!”.

That’s quite a bit of touching to take place over the two to three hours I have available for them during the week days. With the size of my family, if everyone got 20 touches a day that would add up to 100 touches a day – not including our dog.

If that were spread throughout a three-hour-twenty-minute period it comes out to touching someone every 2 minutes.

I only remember getting a meaningful touch about once every other week growing up, which was still more than most of the kids I knew. I’ll bet our society has even pulled back to the point that children are only given a meaningful touch once a month, and that’s reserved for when the child initiates the hug.

One last thought – giving my children that access to my personal space makes me a tangible figure for them. I become more real and more accessible in ways beyond the physical. Hopefully they’ll learn that and come to their real accessible Dad during the more trying years ahead.