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Kindly Curious

A letter to Cagney, age 2

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Dear Cagney in Malvern, Arkansas:

You're two years old now. Your parents asked me to write concerning wisdom. Wisdom is a deep well you'll spend your whole life digging.

All of us are God's children. Some of God's special children think wisdom and God are silly topics. Be kind to these folks.

The rain falls on the evil and the just. Everything works for the best for those who love the Lord. These pills are often hard to swallow. Be patient.

Look at the sky and trees at least twice daily. Smell every flower in your yard when it blooms. Move turtles out of the road.

You can't have too many friends.

Anything worth building can be built in a sandbox with scraps of wood.

Be grateful for lectures and spankings. You'll find you have friends who need one. They won't be so lucky as you, and will be given Ritalin and television instead.

One book is worth a thousand television shows.

The King James Bible contains God's poetry. Read Proverbs and 1st Corinthians 13 over and over again. Reading books of wisdom from other cultures will help you see the Bible more clearly.

The smartest people use only 4 percent of their mind. Stand on the 4 yard line of a football field. Look at the goalpost 96 yards away. This will provide a good idea of your potential.

Learning what it's like to be hungry will eliminate the troublesome trait of being hard to please. Tip good waiters and waitresses well. Say please and thank you. Open doors for others. Say yes, ma'am, and yes, sir.

Always have a flashlight with good batteries.

The long-term damage caused by not hearing birds and frogs and crickets is far worse than not having air conditioning. If you find yourself living in a place without birds and frogs and crickets, make arrangements to move.

Doing one's best increases one's ability to do one's best. The point of school is not the diploma.

Sometimes you will get kicked in the teeth when helping others, but self-respect is more important than teeth.

Remember, people are human.

Every second counts. Decide to be happy. Trust God.

Everything has a price. Some prices are not worth paying. Some things are made to sell, not to use. Trade with locally-owned stores.

Sing daily. Play a musical instrument.

You'll learn more in a garden than almost anywhere else. Onions and garlic are good for you. So is peanut butter. And eat your turnips -- they'll make your hair curly.

Lack of forgiveness causes much of the world's trouble. Help change that.

Beauty comes from inside of you, not from a jar. Wrinkles will come. Wrinkles formed from smiling are signs of beauty.

A prayer's most important part is when we shut up and listen. Don't blame God for the failings of church folks and religion. Live life with the end in mind.

Write letters.

Memorize the light in your parents' eyes. One day they will close.

-- David Clark lives in rural Georgia. His work has appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered," in Southern Living, the Atlanta Journal and the Denver Post. His column appears in 25 newspapers around the country. Write to him at P.O. Box 148, Cochran, Ga. 31014, or via e-mail at dclark@accucomm.net.

by David Clark

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