My daughter Mercedes is 7 in this picture.
It?s amazing to get down eye to eye with her and have long conversations about anything.

My youngest at Sparks Lake in Central Oregon.

She cares deeply for those around her, she cares deeply for animals, looking beautiful, helping around the house, and a good dessert with lots of blueberries and strawberries.

She cares deeply about the simple joys of life.

Which is just about perfect, just magical, and so totally ?7 years old.?

No one yet has told her that she has to get ahead in this world.
No one yet has told her that she’s got to look hot, she’s got to make money, she’s got to step on others if it helps her get ahead.
No one yet has told her “step on OR be stepped on.”
No one has told her that her dream of working at McDonald’s when she grows up is not a good dream, or that she can?t have 10 kids, 10 cats, and 10 dogs someday.

She hasn’t yet learned the truth.

I hope she becomes one of the few that slips through without learning the truth, without learning all that crap the world calls ?reality.? I hope that she holds fast to her dreams and works hard to become whatever she wants without stepping on others to get there. I hope that she continues to find beauty and joy in the simple things, and I?m going to do everything I can to make sure she can.

For most of us, the world crushed the wonder, the love, the dreams right out of us. The world shrunk our hearts and hardened them for battle. This isn?t all bad because this life is hard, people suck, and it?s nice to have a little bit of a hard shell to protect us.

However, if our shell is too hard, we miss too much.?

I have spent a lot of years hardening my own shell, building up my defenses and readying my weapons for attack. In some ways, this has served me well, but it?s also caused me to miss many moments of simple joy.

I?ve spent the last few years working to break down my own walls, to take more risks for the benefit of relationships.

It?s not easy, but my daughter Mercedes is helping me learn. I?m working every day to teach her, and she is working every day to remind me what I have forgotten. When I?m humble enough to admit I have forgotten so much, and willing to listen and learn a lot more than I talk it?s kinda magical.

What about you? Do you need to listen more? Do you need to re-learn some of the stuff buried way deep down from when you were 7, from when you thought the best of everyone, from when you had grand dreams to do amazing things?

Maybe it?s time you got back a little of that big heart you lost.


Chris Behnke

Inspiration from the Instagram post:

Sometimes the smallest of us have the biggest hearts.

Mercedes (7) loving kayaking on #sparkslake last summer.

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