The Biggest Best Day of Our Lives


My daughter and I spent a day on Massachusetts’ Plum Island earlier this week, and as the photo makes evident, the day was a good one: Temperatures in the mid-60s, few people (but many birds), a picnic lunch, and driftwood. Lots of driftwood. So, gathering some in, I tried building with it. What I ended up with initially was a complex, heaped-up hut. But knowing (even as I built) that complexity disagrees with everything I believe in, I pulled it all down to its beginning point.

Interestingly, that’s when my efforts caught Quetzal’s attention. “What’s that?” she asked.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “What do you think it is?”

“I think it’s an opening,” she said.

“Yes,” I said: “An opening. To land, sky, and ocean, to beginning and ending, to living and dying, to dreaming, creating…and to you when you’re old like me and me when I’m young again like you…”

“Dad,” she said with a crazy laugh, and then she immediately returned to her own fantasy, which, as the photo half-shows, was directly in front of mine.

“It’s a circle inside a circle inside a circle,” she said when I looked in on it.

One of her circles, the inner-most one, was a series of sand dollars–not found sand dollars, but those she had drawn in the sand with various shells and a crab leg.


Later we went for a walk along the shore and Quetzal made two statements that I need always to remember.

The first, an announcement, went, “I think today is becoming the biggest best day of my life.”

The second, a suggestion, went, “Come on, Dad, let’s run! Let’s run for joy!”

So we ran for joy. And when we stopped and looked back we saw that we had run for joy for a long way. It was then that I realized that the day was becoming my biggest best day, too.


When we returned to our place on the beach, we each took turns going through the “opening.”

“It’s an opening to joy,” I said.

But Quetzal wasn’t listening. She was on to something else. Moving away to a high point behind us, she turned back to the ocean, and, holding her arms wide, started for the water like a large bird, her arms flapping up and down like wings. As she neared the ocean I was amazed to see that she didn’t lift off. With so much joy propelling her just then, actual flight had seemed an inevitability.

16 responses to “The Biggest Best Day of Our Lives

  1. This is absolutely beautiful!

  2. Your description of your day with your daughter reminded me of one of my favourite books;
    “I’m in Charge of Celebrations”, by Byrd Baylor.

    Thank you for sharing an opening to joy……….

  3. Sweetness and indeed, a beautiful day. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for spreading the joy of your daughter/sea/sky/ run / build/build/consider/imagine adventure. This is one day you will long remember, both of you, as shared and special. G

  5. Thanks for the reminder that every day is like that, all we need to do is pay attention…

  6. This really is beautiful. Wonderful in many ways and for many reasons. But the phrase that most caught my attention on this reading is:
    But knowing (even as I built) that complexity disagrees with everything I believe in, I pulled it all down to its beginning point.
    That one deserves a lot of reflection.

  7. Thanks, Bill. I appreciate you calling attention to the line on complexity. In a subtle way it makes the heart of the piece.

  8. Beautiful…you know you are doing the right thing when you can learn from your kids. Raising them to be free and joyful and to share the way they see the world.

  9. What gentle, beautiful reminders. I live in MA but have never ventured to Plum Island. It sounds like a magical day :)

  10. Ha! I’ve been through openings just exactly like that. In fact, I think it was constructed of the same driftwood. Good place for openings. Just like up in the white mountains. Good to find joy in openings. You can find whatever you want, you know? Joy is a good, natural choice. PBWY, brother.

  11. What a lucky girl to know joy – provided, in large part, by a loving father. Not every child feels this exhilaration, and you have done the world a great service by fostering this in your child. <3

  12. Are you published somewhere as in a book or something? Because you should be. I’m blown away by your humanity and lyricism.

  13. Thank you, Tres Jolie. I do like the idea of a book or something. But I mostly just think about it. And one needs to act, I’m told.

  14. Ah! The blarsted need to act! Understand it well. I blog for Capper’s Farmer. No money there but maybe leap to income is possible? You should. You’re a great writer!

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