Reading this excerpt from William Giraldi’s Splendid Visions: A Meditation on the Childhood Sublime, go to Orion.
… that’s the paradox of place: We want to be somewhere, and then we want to be somewhere else. There’s always somewhere better, even if the place we are is best. This dilemma of the city versus the woods has become for me a question of proper parenting, of how to inspire awe in Ethan, and how to invoke Wordsworth and Thoreau anywhere we are—at the apex of the Prudential Tower in downtown Boston or on a mountain in Colorado. The question has become not Will we move to the country? but rather What kind of father do I want to be?
In the first half of his supremely dull autobiography, The Words, Sartre writes, “There is no good father, that’s the rule.” The poet Robert Bly, channeling Freud, writes, “Millions of parents now realize that to raise children without damaging them is impossible.” But how can we damage them least? At the Boston MFA or at Walden Pond in Concord, we must cultivate our children’s sense of the sublime, must nudge them always toward what is beautiful, toward bliss, toward a deeper-seeing into the things of earth, wherever on earth we might be.