Give Them This Stuff

The novelist John Steinbeck used to write his novels with pencils. In 1952, he was wearing himself out writing his greatest novel, East of Eden. He was also wearing down his pencils, one by one, as the words poured out. 

“I detest short pencils,” he wrote in his journal. “I think I will discard the short ones today as I finished with each one. I take them to Tom [his 7-year-old son] who uses them to draw with. To him they are not short pencils.”

Isn’t that beautiful? As we say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That metal box that something came in at work is not packaging to a kid… it’s literally a treasure chest. Your old car is not a lame piece of junk to a teenager… it’s a ticket to freedom. The nosebleed seats you got from a client are a memory you and your daughter will never forget. And on and on and on. 

We have to go through this world with an eye for how children would see it. It’s easy to be jaded. It’s easy to get spoiled. But we forget—to them, there is no such thing as a short pencil. In fact—the short ones are even better. If we can remember that, not only will we find many opportunities to make them happy… but we will make ourselves happier too. Because we will be seeing the joy in things. 

Look for the treasure and you’ll find it.

P.S. This was originally sent on February 2, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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