The Clues Were There

If I’d met you when you were three, what would I have been able to predict about your future loves and passions? Because the clues were likely there.

I’m a big believer that we are most ourselves in elementary school and the young years, and that, sadly, we then often go off in directions of people pleasing, familial expectations, and “shoulds” and thus move away from what we were made to do.

My own theology includes the idea that we were each prepared with good works to do, and it sure makes sense to me that the things we’d do in the world, the beauty we’d create, the gifts we’d exercise for the flourishing of our culture… well, it makes sense to me that those would develop organically from the raw material of US.

I’m a big advocate of getting people into situations where they get to reexperience the sense of wonder that is so rampant in childhood. That’s one reason we are having a BE/BRING Your Own Kid event on April 14 in D.C. It’s recess for adults and kids together (if we didn’t’ mix in the kids, the adults might just stand there; we have a lot to learn from children). Learn more about it and sign up here.

I loved a recent Washington Post article about Missy Franklin, a sixteen-year-old swimmer headed to the London Olympics. She has been compared with Michael Phelps. Her parents describe her natural love of the water, which began at three months old:

“Franklin’s parents say she first left their mouths agape when she was doused by a frigid wave in Charleston, S.C., at 3 months old, an event that left her cooing with glee while a similarly drenched baby cousin choked and screamed.”

They also tell stories of her chasing a fish into the open ocean at three. This fearlessness freaked out her parents, but she herself says she feels like a dolphin.

So it’s not surprising that when her love of water combined with a perfect body for swimming (6’1″, size 13 feet, wingspan that exceeds her height), Missy Franklin says that she “should have had gills.”

What should you have had? Do you? Were you made for something that you’ve put aside, ignored, thought better of, decided to grow up instead of pursue?

It’s never too late.  The clues were always there, weren’t they?

NOTE: I’m excited to be teaching an upcoming class called “Your Story, Your Sweetspot” through Skillshare, a wonderful organization that democratizes learning. You can sign up here for that April 28, 2012 class, taught at the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. from 2 to 5 p.m. Come, and let’s look at the early clues from your life!

7 thoughts on “The Clues Were There


  1. Great post, Cary! This is really thought provoking. What am I missing from myself…missing but is already there? And, what about my children? What should I be cultivating? Thanks for this… I’ll surely be thinking about these things all week!


  2. Very interesting post! It’s wistful to revisit our “inner child”. Did you read “The Brain on Love” in the NY Times this week? The author, Diane Ackerman, wrote:
    “We used to think this was the end of the story: first heredity, then the brain’s engraving mental maps in childhood, after which you’re pretty much stuck with the final blueprint.”
    “But as a wealth of imaging studies highlight, the neural alchemy continues throughout life as we mature and forge friendships, dabble in affairs, succumb to romantic love, choose a soul mate. “
    The author continues “But a loving touch is enough to change everything.”
    Even in a childhood that lacked closeness and attention, our brains change throughout life when continuously exposed to truly selfless, committed love. It allows the soul to soar in independence. Yeah, the bonds of attachment have a profound effect on self.
    There are fewer bonds more powerful than those of parents to children. The dreams you mention of childhood are nurtured by that love, and allow the child to reach for their dreams, because they trust the security of the ground at their feet. Missy, in your post, clearly had this from this family that describe her childhood with such love and acceptance.
    The same is true for adults. As we grow up, we count ourselves fortunate to have the unwavering love of a few special friends, and most importantly for those of us that are lucky, the living water of a loving relationship.
    The author concludes:
    “During idylls of safety, when your brain knows you’re with someone you can trust, it needn’t waste precious resources coping with stressors or menace. Instead it may spend its lifeblood learning new things or fine-tuning the process of healing.”
    Perhaps one of the keys to fulfilling childhood dreams is through being fully in love with the here and now.


  3. Dee, I’ll go look for that article. Thank you for suggesting it. I love your post here… so thoughtful. Thanks for taking the time to enter the conversation. Tell me about you. How’d you find SPACIOUS? Thanks for enlarging our thinking on this.


  4. Stumbled across your site via Bloombars Facebook and was intrigued to read this counterpoint to the Ackerman story in NY Times. Nice work!


  5. Missy’s story sounds like the makings of a super hero story!

    Thanks for the great post, Cary 🙂


  6. Ryan, we should WRITE it and do a SOUNDTRACK!


  7. Ooh, I’d love to interview you and pull some of that out. I love doing that. But I have a feeling you are noticing it all with your girls. You told me things about E when she was very small that you had already observed. I’m teaching a class about finding your sweet spot in life through examining the clues. It’ll be on 4/28/12 in the afternoon at the Portrait Gallery through Skillshare: http://www.skillshare.com/Your-Story-Your-Sweet-Spot/2134822735/1169249118

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