in Stuff I learned

The beauty of syntax

I recently read Donald Miller’s Father Fiction. It was decent, not great, but it wrapped me up at the end.

Particularly a section near the last page about learning.

“My friend Gregg used to teach teachers, and he states emphatically that students who are driven by delight will learn more than those driven by discipline.

“I take this to mean we should move to other subjects if we don’t find ourselves enamored. Literature, theology, and psychology fascinate me, and so I consider the subjects a calling. While I find a salamander boring, syntax stops my heart.”[1. Me too.]

I’m not sure anyone has every freed me up in this way — to think like this. To be okay to think like this.

In Tim Layden’s recent piece about the horse California Chrome, he wrote and referenced some beautiful stuff. Some stuff that stopped my heart.

A sampling:

Racing loves a good legend. In 1963 the late Daily Racing Form columnist Charles Hatton wrote this about a blindingly fast colt: “Raise a Native worked five furlongs along the backstretch at Belmont Park this morning. The trees swayed.”

That’s a tremendous sentence. Gorgeous in simplicity, thunderous in power. It’s awesome.

It moves me. I used to think that was weird but I’m learning that it’s actually okay to be stirred by syntax.