Saturday, July 21, 2012


Dear Spike:

About an hour after you went to bed I came into your room, as I promised I would and as is my custom, to check on you.

And there you were, hands behind your head, knees propped up and eyes wide open.

"Hello," you said.

"Hello," I said.

And that was it. I sat beside your bed and ran my fingers through your newly cut hair. And slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, your eyelids began to fall.

You were asleep for many minutes before I finally got up to leave.

I loved that so much. Maybe tomorrow night we can do it again.


Saturday, July 14, 2012


Dear Spike:

In a few days, I'll leave you and your mother for a return trip to Ethiopia.

This time around I'll not be working on a specific journalistic project, but rather helping three of my students to complete projects of their own. We'll explore the lives of street boys in the throbbing conurbation of Addis Ababa; we'll watch the Summer Games on black and white television sets with athletes who are worthy of being Olympians, but couldn't afford to get there; we'll visit with refugees from the wars throughout Africa; and we'll leave with more questions than we had when we arrived — because that is how it always goes.

Both Lao-Tze and Socrates have been credited with some variation of the revelation that "the more we learn, the less we know" — and I've certainly found that to be the case.

I vividly remember the day I left Iraq after my first visit to that war-torn nation. I recall standing on the Baghdad International Airport tarmac, waiting to get on a C-130 en route Kuwait, Germany and ultimately home. I was tired. I didn't like being at war. I didn't like getting shot at. And I missed my wife, so much.

But as men and women slowly lumbered forward, I wanted nothing more than to hold back. Over the preceding two months, I'd done some of the best work of my young career. There are so many stories to tell, and we only live so long.

That, I suppose, is why I do what I do. And that's an experience I'll be trying to share with my students while I'm away from you and your mother. Someday, if you wish, I will proudly share this story-telling tradition with you, too.

For now, you're off to other adventures. Your mother, upon contemplating my impending trip to Africa, decided there was little reason to stay at home and wait. So she bought two tickets to Cancun, where the two of you will swim, snorkel and sun for a few days while I'm away.

A girls' trip. And another stamp for your passport. I'm very excited for you.

This is a very big world. And I hope you explore it. Set your sails. Write your adventure.

There are so many stories, but the world can always use one more.