I think I’ve read this story in several places. It originates (as far as I know) from Gordon MacDonald’s book, The Effective Father.
It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his adult mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. After having heard of the particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”
Now it could be that that was a happy reflection and written with a bit of wry humor. Or maybe he really did regard the day as wasted. But either way, we need more wasted days with our children.
It’s not easy. We live in a driven world with crazy schedules and deadlines that send our blood pressure soaring. For some of us it’s hard to remember when we wasted a day. As we all probably thought while reading the account above, that day was not truly wasted. It was the most memorable day in the author’s life.
In order to waste more days we’re going to have to decommit (is that a word?) to things that are really good. Are you in way over your head? Are you scrambling to keep appointments to appease other people? It’s really true that most organizations are invasive … they would like all the time, money, and work that you can contribute to the cause. For any organization to continue, it needs to believe it is the most important cause. How many of these organizations are really pulling your family together … and how many are pulling your family apart?
We need more wasted days like these…
Days that are centered around conversations with people we love most.
Days that create memories without having to do something spectacular.
Days that leave us relaxed instead of breathless.
Days that focus on activities that require the hands and energy of each other in order to complete.
Days that might result in no lasting evidence of the day itself…. there’s just nothing to show for it … at least nothing visible.
And we need Dads for Wasted Days. I know there are moms who are trying to be both mom and dad. Very difficult. But for those parents who are present physically, I urge you to waste some days with your sons and daughters.
For it is in a wasted day that your children will realize that for at least one moment nothing else mattered more than them.
I think that’s a feeling they’ll remember for the rest of their lives … and long to provide for their own children one day.
Thanks for reading, JD.