One December day, five years ago, I found two notes on my writing desk. The notes were from my daughter and son. They were 6 years old and 9 years old at the time. They had questions for me, their father.
They wanted to know who I am and why I enjoy the things I do. I responded with a heartfelt letter of my own. It is one of the most favorite things I have ever written, and I shared it in the past with friends. Reliving that memory, I thought I would share:
The first note read:
You are the best chess player I know. I wonder if you like your work.
The second note read:
Why do you like planes? Do you like writing? Why do you like writing? Sometimes I like how you are creative. What are some way you [can] be creative?
My response to them on December 15, 2015:
Dear Son and Daughter,
I am writing this letter to you in response to the notes you left on my writing desk.
Thank you for asking your questions. I will now do my best to answer.
First, it is quite interesting that you ask about airplanes, chess, and writing. I have loved all three of them for much of my life, even as young as the two of you.
But whereas I love chess and can talk about it to no end in sight, I do love airplanes just as much. And when it comes to writing, I love it so much I wouldn’t know where to begin.
Ever since I was a child I have been amazed at flight. It might have been old Superman movies as a kid, or maybe a big imagination, but I always wanted to fly. I would even dream about it.
But there was a problem. I was very afraid of being high up in the sky. The fear of falling down terrified me and I didn’t know what to do. Still, I continued dreaming and thinking about flying. I read books all about it at the library.
One day my parents arranged for my dad and I to fly in a small airplane with a local pilot. I was very scared! But I knew absolutely that I wanted to do it.
We took off from a little airport called Lincoln Park, New Jersey on a Sunday afternoon. We were in a single-engine Cessna 172.
We flew straight towards New York City and turned south down the Hudson River. The view was so incredible! I remember so clearly looking out the window of the airplane and seeing that I was eye-level with the World Trade Center buildings. The Twin Towers! It was that day I knew I wanted to fly forever.
Airplanes are very special. They are barely over 100 years old. Yet for thousands of years, people have wanted to fly like birds. Planes are big, heavy, and very loud. They are not really supposed to fly. But many, many people have worked very hard to make the impossible a reality. That is what makes me smile whenever I see an airplane defy gravity and fly.
On writing —
I love writing even more than I love planes.
Writing for me is a way of making my spirit fly. You are children yet already you know what that means.
Some days I write about happy moments, like the first day I flew, or special memories with people I love — like you. Other days I write about sad experiences, things I don’t understand, or even things that make me angry!
But I write because of what writing teaches me. No matter what is going on, I can be with it for what it is. Writing is my voice, and for some people, it is the only voice we feel like we truly have in the world.
This relates well to the subject of creativity.
Being creative simply means thinking of interesting and new ways to make stuff. And the most important key to being creative is to never give up!
Writing allows me to be very creative while never leaving the ground. I have written at my desk, on airplanes, on mountains, deserts, and beaches; I have written in metropolitan cities and small-town libraries. It is a special thing to have a pen and to be able to record what I see and feel everywhere I go.
This is my work. This is what I was put on earth to do. Maybe one day I will do more writing and less chess and fewer airplanes. But I feel incredibly lucky to do all three.
Even more, I feel incredibly luckier to have two bright and beautiful kids who ask amazing questions. Maybe you will grow up to enjoy the things I do, or maybe you will find something special and just right for you.
Above all else, I love you very, very much.
Always do your best.
Follow your bliss.
This post is republished on Medium.
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