(Pretty Please, the horse who just wanted a sandwich)
Kristin. I honestly never expected anyone to make me so happy, or to understand me so well. She is the secret ingredient that makes everything taste better.
Stolen Things. One of the maxims I've taught the kids is that "Snitched food tastes better." That's probably the only lesson they'll remember from me, but it's true. Ice cream that you eat from the carton, hiding behind the fridge, is at least three times as good as ice cream someone served you in a bowl. It's not just food, either. Sleep ten minutes past the alarm is the best sleep of all, and kisses are better if someone's 10-year-old daughter catches you and your wife hiding in the broom closet when you're supposed to be cleaning the church.*
Dogwoods. Have you seen them in bloom? That's when you know Spring means business.
Rolling Hills. Remember how you'd pass the time on long car rides, sticking your hand out the window and making it curve up and down in the wind? That's kinda what hills do for me--add a little fun to the landscape.
Cognitive Psychology. Why do people make the same mistakes over and over? How do we navigate through randomness or uncertainty? What makes us happy or disappointed, and why? My intellectual curiosities have tended to be ahistorical, apolitical and personal, a field dominated for centuries by gloomy philosophers and crazed poets, but I'm coming around to the idea that empirical study is where the money's at, right at the intersection of psychology and behavioral economics. I started with Stumbling On Happiness, then Nudge, then The Black Swan and now Thinking, Fast and Slow has got me hooked. When we say "That's Life" or "That's human nature", what we're really talking about is how the world outside gets filtered through our brains. I feel like we're finally starting to understand how that works.
Custard. Also Pie. Also Cakes and Cookies With Nuts and Stuff In Them. When something is sweet and laden with carbs and has more than one texture when you bite it, that's how you know it's a good thing.
The Kids Growing Up. They play together and draw for hours. They're very free with their affection and quick to do good. We're reaching a point where I can start to see how the kids are going to take the foundation we've given them and then grow up and out from it, into different and better people. They inspire me.
Virginia. Virginia is the Golden Mean, green valleys and blue mountains. Snow in Winter, fireflies in Summer, bright colors in Spring and Fall. Hilly, leafy, farms full of horses and woods full of deer. Somehow the light is brighter there, and the feelings richer. When we go to Heaven, we will all see that it looks like Virginia, mid-May, just an hour before sunset.
The Temple. More and more, my temperament could be described as restless or uneasy, but that's not how I feel in the temple. When I'm there I feel full, and whole, and grateful. Christ, in his candor, promised a troubling life, but coupled with a "peace that passeth all understanding." He keeps that promise in the temple, his toehold in a lower world.
*This may or may not have happened yesterday morning. I confirm nothing and regret nothing.