I'm Emily Reynolds.
Dear John Adams,
Though you are long gone from this country which you and Abigail so passionately helped to found over two centuries ago, I hope you know you sparked a “pursuit of happiness” in many hearts and minds over the decades.
An author from my current day, and your old tie, Mother England, by the name of Neil Gaiman once said about creativity, “The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before.” I wholeheartedly agree. It's what motivates people to quilt, sew, bake, garden, draw, paint, build, compute, write, act, sing, and follow any creative endeavor.
When life gets too grim with its realities of washing dishes, burning off warts, working long hours to pay the bills, fixing flat tires, and facing the commute each day ("hardships" that would, perhaps, make you scoff, Mr. Adams)--we of modern America can set our phones down, and carve out thirty minutes a day to create. And freedom, with hope, returns...
Whenever self-doubt about my own creative gifts settles in, I think on you, John, and something you once wrote regarding your own purpose in life:
“The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons [and daughters] may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
Wowza! Right? (Did they have that expression back in 1776? Guessing not.) But if your words hold true, Mr. Adams, two hundred years later, this must mean that because I studied illustration and fine art in school, my gritty forebearers fulfilled their duties to establish a stable (okay...maybe semi-stable at present) God-fearing government!
The sacrifices of so many, after the example of yours, set a new nation in motion. And because so many of you initially studied legislation, administration, and negotiation, farmers (like my grandparents on both sides) settled the land and raised crops to build an infrastructure, that raised up children (like my parents) who studied mathematics, philosophy, geography, natural history, commerce and agriculture. So that students like me (two decades ago), could choose to study children's picture book-making, as a regular offering in the course curriculum.
Not gonna lie, I feel a little spoiled—reaping what you've sewn, Mr. President. And humbled. And grateful. So thank you, for sacrificing your down-time, so I could practice writing and drawing picture books for a future generation of children someday. In the meantime, I'll keep painting and trying to capture a cross-section of this generation of "creators."
And perhaps someday I'll write and illustrate something that will inspire my grandchildren to want to improve the world, by sacrificing their leisure time to study "legislation, administration, and negotiation,” (and yes...maybe even porcelain), to keep the cycle of freedom going.
P.S. Mr. Adams, if you are permitted up there, now and again, to look down and read the writings of this lucky generation, please know that regarding your words, “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it,” you're right...I don't think we will ever know how much it cost for you founding fathers to preserve our freedom, but I do hope, in my own tiny way, to make the most of it with my own God-given duties. And just so you know, I'm jealous of the rolling wooden ladders in your Stone Library.