One day when I was in junior high school, dad asked me, "What are you thinking about?"
I must have been daydreaming – again – because I shook my head and asked, "What'd you say, dad?" (I daydreamed a lot when I was a kid.)
"You've been sitting there for about 10 minutes without moving, and I know you haven't died. Twelve-year-old boys don't just sit without moving unless something is really eating on them. So, what's on your mind?"
"I was just remembering the trip you and mom took me on when I was five. We went to Yosemite, and we watched the fire fall from the top of the cliff."
"You remember that? Seven years ago? Can you tell me about it?"
I surprised dad with all that I remembered. About driving through the park, where we camped, and the park ranger talking with the visitors. Then at nine o' clock at night, the ranger hollered to the men up on Glacier Point, "Let the fire fall!" And when the rangers up on the cliff began pushing the burning wood and hot coals over the edge, it looked like a glowing waterfall.
"Why don't you write about that vacation?"
"Dad, I hate writing, and my handwriting is terrible."
"A typewriter can fix your writing, but only you can fix the desire to write. Writing will be important to you someday, so you may as well start now."
He told me to get a sheet of paper and a pencil. I did. He then said something funny. At least it seemed strange to me. "Make the pencil move and make the lines mean something. Start with today's date, and the name of something you are interested in. You can even write about watching the fire fall."
I knew the date, and dad knew I loved kittens. "I have an idea, write what you like about kittens."
That didn't make me like to write, but I enjoyed talking about cats, and dad is the one who jump-started me in my writing ability and desire to study the Bible. But it took several more years and a few more nudges to get the ball rolling.
My seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Beharka, and my college history professor, Mr. Holsinger, are the two who propelled me into studying history. When I realized that I could merge history with the Bible, I came alive.
Sometimes when I felt down and didn't know why, I would either play some tunes on the piano or get out a pencil and paper and write. The music fed my soul, and the paper cleared my mind. Of course, I always wadded up the paper and threw my ill feelings in the trash. But music and writing were therapeutic for me – although I didn't know that word.
Later, friends and acquaintances began asking questions about history, the Bible, science, a few other topics, and I discovered that I enjoyed writing my thoughts to share with them. My writing became a teaching tool.
How about you who are reading this note? Have you thought about writing? No, you don't have to attend a Dale Carnegie writing course, attend the U of A, or take an online writing class. But someone – could be your children, grandchildren, church friends or social club – is interested in you. Someone is interested in what you've experienced, what you've learned, who you are inside. You are important.
You don't even have to join the Siloam Springs Writers Guild, although that could help. My wife, Carol, said for decades that she wasn't a writer – until she finally accepted my challenge. She agreed to write about something and let the Guild members read it. Guess what? She wrote it very well, they enjoyed it, and encouraged her to write more.
Your experiences, your world-view, your outlook on life can help others learn a trade, learn how to face a challenge, learn how to overcome a problem, even learn how to enjoy life. Someone needs to hear from you, and you can start with getting a pencil ... no, let's come up to date. You can start with turning on your computer, typing your name and date, and the name of something you're interested in. A computer is much easier because you don't have to wad up much paper.
What's on your mind? Write about it. Encourage others with your thoughts. You are more important than you think you are.
-- S. Eugene Linzey is the author of 'Charter of the Christian Faith.' Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.