June 24, 2018

The Wall, The Crawl, and the Courtyard

My son, my loyal and affectionate boy, some day it may be yours to know the pain, the unreasonable pain that comes over a man to know that between him and his boy, and his boy’s friends, an unseen but unassailable barrier has arisen, erected by no human agency; and to feel that while they may experience a vague respect and even curiosity to know what exists on your side of the barrier, you on your part would give all—wealth, position, influence, honor—to get back to theirs! All the world, clumsily or gracefully, is crawling over this barrier; but not one ever crawls back again!” A 1908 letter from John D. Swain to his son, a student at Yale.1

I think about this paragraph often.

As I turn 28, I think about how I’m now sitting at the top of the wall. I can see both sides, feeling like I can fall backwards or forwards.

And when I look forward, I see a courtyard. It’s a beautiful garden, with birds and benches and green ivy.

I see a courtyard because I now understand how much time is required to achieve the important things in life. You have to be consistent, every day, over a long period of time in order to cultivate happiness, and peace, and health.

Reading about the collapse of Europe ahead of World War II. Running every single morning. Choosing to prepare your own salad. Knowledge, health, and wellness.

These are the things that money can’t buy.

Only time can buy them.

And it’s what I imagine doing in my courtyard, every day, so that my garden becomes beautiful - slowly, and over time.


  1. http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/08/mr-dear-son.html


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