He wrote a poem when his son was born. That poem eventually brought the son back home.

Forest grew up in the mountains, and his dad wrote this poem for him when he was born.

Forest grew up in the mountains, and his dad wrote this poem for him when he was born.

The Important Places

Child of mine


come as you grow

in youth you will learn the secret places

the cave behind the waterfall

the arms of the oak that hold you high

the stars so near on a desert ledge

the important places

and as with age you choose your own way

among the many faces of a busy world

may you always remember the path that leads back

back to the important places.

Dad for Forest, 1986

Years later, when his dad was turning 70, Forest was living in the city, far away from those "important places."

He found a box with some photographs, including that poem.

The rest is best told via the video. No, really — you're going to want to watch this.

My important places when I was a kid included the secret fishing hole where my Uncle Mark took us.

And the other fishing hole Uncle Ray introduced to us where my brother fell right into a huge school of bluegills, the panfish scattering immediately.

And the pheasant hunting fields of eastern Iowa, where we first learned to hunt birds — on our own, without even a dog. Dad was pretty much missing from our lives until we were in our late-teens, so a lot of what we did, we did with siblings and friends. Or on our own.

Much like the son in the clip above, I got away from my important places for a few decades.

I lived a life of engaging work, travel, political activism, and moving around the country a half-dozen times. My dad and I finally rediscovered each other when I was in my mid-30s. It involved various fishing holes, the pheasant fields of eastern Iowa, and those moments where we connected over old traditions with maybe a beer and a few cigars after the day was through.


Photo via Thinkstock.

As my dad reaches an age where he can't do many of those things anymore, I can say I am very happy I remembered my "important places" and rediscovered them with him.

Even better, since my wife and I recently expanded our family by adopting two young kids, we're set to discover even more important places that will stay with us forever.

How about you? Where are your important places? Where was your family forged?

We can't all drop everything and run back to the places that mean the most to us. But, through a phone call or maybe just a moment of reflection, we can all take a break from our busy lives to reflect on the important things.

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