When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me:
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
For a long time, I thought he came up with the phrase like he did the self-driving car (that I eventually realized he steered with his knee), but it turns out Eleanor Roosevelt said it first.
The thing is, this is how he has lived. He’s always been The Idea Guy; the visionary; the one who thinks outside of the box long before anyone else realizes there’s a box there. I suppose this is the part of him most of the outside world has seen – along with his amazing ability to empathize and demonstrate compassion for everyone. Really. Everyone.
But, as his daughter, of course I’ve gotten to see these parts of him unfold in ways the “outside world” hasn’t gotten to see.
When I was very little, my dad had the vision of a community of like-minded people who worked together, prayed together and played together. And then we packed up our home and moved into just this kind of place. Though this particular sort of world had many faults, it still continues to be – 36 years later – the place where I most felt true community.
And there are the little things: a jewelry box found at a garage sale with a ballerina who wouldn’t dance. My dad bought it, took it home, and tinkered with it until that ballerina not only danced, but the box began to sing. I still have that box.
There have been a million “Mercy Missions” where my dad would leave to bring a meal to someone who was hungry or a gas card to a family who had no fuel. All of these people were mystery people – so many times we had no idea how anyone even knew him – news of a compassionate person spreads fast.
As he’s gotten older, my dad’s ideas have become simpler. I suppose all the ideas, ultimately, were about love and compassion, but now the love feels…unencumbered in a way; less tangled. It’s as though age has caused him to shed some of the complexities of life that we, who are younger, like to use to muddle and complicate our thoughts. I see this in his sincerity and in his ability to be present. Watching him with my children is a gift – his joy in their very existence is palpable.
Of course relationships are complicated and we are all human with our faults and our complexities, but one thing I’ll never doubt is my dad’s love for me. I am so grateful for this and for the gift of Vision that he has given to me.