I believe that my dad is the smartest person in the world. Of course, almost everyone thinks that at some point, especially in third grade when typical playground conversation consisted of:
“My dad could beat your dad.”
“Naw uh. My dad can do anything.”
My dad didn’t beat a computer in chess, or create a new form of matter, nor did he develop the mass-energy equivalence theory. No, my dad is a genius to me because he knows how to escape the craziness of our world by enjoying the peacefulness of the nature around us. But for a good portion of my life I didn’t appreciate the genius of his ways.
Every summer of my childhood, my dad packed up the car and we took a family trip to Swans Island, Maine–not exactly the sexiest of all summer vacations spots. Our car was stuffed to the gills with dad, mom, a couple of kids, and a dog. The drive to Maine was a 12-hour car trip followed by an hour ferry ride. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my dad made us go through all this. Didn’t he realize the New Jersey shore was less than two hours away? There, children boogie boarded, crowds walked the board walk, and The Wonderland Pier filled the air with neon lights, the smell of funnel cake, and the bliss of riding amusement park rides one after another.
Nope. We were going to Maine.
Our time on Swans Island consisted of reading and board games on foggy days, hiking trips around the island on nice days and, if we were lucky, a ride to another island on our neighbor’s lobster boat. Although I was usually gloomy during the car ride to Maine, I can only recall all the happy times I spent there. I can remember things like the sharp crack of catching baseballs while playing toss with my dad in the front yard or the evening adventure of making dinner where even the kids had to help prepare a dish- I had what seemed like the impossible task of making a salad.
However, the moment I most vividly remember was the hike we took up Goose Mountain. I was about thirteen at the time and–like many other antsy teenagers–I felt the necessity to charge ahead of my family. I stood at the summit alone for an instant and overlooked the island. There, with nothing but the rustle of a slight wind against the evergreens and the faint jingle of Marley’s dog chain approaching up the trail behind me, I realized my father’s brilliance. My dad took us to Maine because it was a pleasant departure from the all bumper to bumper traffic and media frenzied mishmash that we experienced back home. Our trips to Maine were some of the most relaxing, peaceful, and happy times of my life. We never did spend the summer at the Jersey shore or go snorkeling in the Caribbean–instead, my coolest summer story revolved around riding to a local fisherman’s town on a lobster boat that reeked of salted bait. But after that summer, that didn’t bother me anymore.
As I have grown older and perhaps wiser, I have grown sick at times about how hectic and busy our lives seem to be. Although the age of cell phones and instant communication has brought a stronger connection between people, it has also brought along a sense of constant urgency and chaos. My dad’s determination to show us a peaceful escape from all this is why I believe my dad is the smartest person in the world.
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