Robert Peek grew up in Orange Park and spent 18 years gathering quotations from Socrates to Virgil to Anne Frank to Yoda with one single purpose: to provide a roadmap for his daughter’s life. Now living in St. Augustine, as she approached graduation from Ponte Vedra High, he put those blogs into a book called, “Inside Peek: A loving father shares his wisdom” that he presented the book to his daughter, Alexandra, two months ago.
Why did you decide to write this book?
I did not start out with an intent to write a book. This really goes back to when my daughter was born. When my daughter was born and I held her for the first time, I had this overwhelming desire to impart to her whatever wisdom I had learned in the world. I wanted to instantly transfer this knowledge to her. I realized I wanted to protect her. But I knew while I could guide her, she would have to find her own way in the world. I decided to start an online blog of life’s lessons that I hoped she would read. That is the genesis of this. Over the years, people started finding my blog. Some of them were my friends. Some were my work friends. It was actually picked up by a couple of newspapers. They would run it as a column – one in Chicago. I was getting visitors to my blog from all over the United States, in fact from all over the world. People were leaving very positive comments. All along, my audience was one person, and that was my daughter. When she was early in high school, I decided then I would bundle the best of the blog posts into a book and present it to her at her high school graduation, which is what I did. The genesis of the book goes all the way back to the day she was born, the content, I should say, goes back to the day she was born. The idea to make it into a book started when she was a freshman in high school.
Did she have any idea that you were collecting years of blogs for a book?
I never told her about the book. I surprised her the day she graduated.
One of the chapters in the book is entitled: “Find Your Pelican of Tranquility.” You said when the stresses of everyday life threaten to overwhelm you, you find peace by remembering a pelican. Can you explain that post?
I remember that day. I remember needing a mental day and going out to the beach, where there weren’t many people around, sitting down, starting to feel a little peaceful. The beach has always been my happy place. I made eye contact with this pelican. I’ve never done that before. The pelican had little eyes, but I could tell I disappeared in the eye of that pelican. It became the focal point of meditation. My whole body just relaxed. It’s almost like that pelican knew what it was doing. Eventually, it flew away. To me, the lesson there was we have it within ourselves to find peace within ourselves and sometimes we find it in some of the simplest things in the world.
What is the one message you hope your daughter can take from your book?
I think it’s to make good decisions, to know herself and to find balance in all things. That goes back to the Greek philosophers talked about know thyself and everything in moderation. I really think it’s about her finding her own way in the world and using the lessons within this book as a guide along the way. I realize she’ll have to make her own mistakes, and that’s OK. That’s how we learn. There’s no experience like experience. I wanted this book to be a guide for her to help point her in some of the right direction, give her some guidance on key lessons.
Where there influences that helped shaped you before your daughter was born?
My mom taught me to think for myself. I remember I was about 11 years old and I was talking with my mom. I remember telling her that if I ever had a tough decision in life, I would just as her. I was very close to my mother. She was a wonderful, wonderful mom. She had great common sense. I sensed that at an early age. I remember my mom saying, ‘What if I’m not here?’ She told me she wouldn’t always be here. My mom knew, even when I was very young, she would be gone one day. I didn’t fully understand that at that age. Eventually, I got it. I had to make my own decisions because my mom wouldn’t be there. My mom passed almost 20 years ago. My mom was right. She wouldn’t always be there. I will always be there for my daughter when I can, but there will be a time when I won’t be there.
Why is this book so important?
Hopefully this book is one small part of a legacy of something I can leave her and guide her. Hopefully she can read it now and help her guide her through life. I wrote this for her. When I published it, I thought I’d make it available to more young people. That was my audience. What I found is, people of all ages are reading it and commenting on it – even people of retirement age are saying there are things they picked up in the book, just reminders, things they probably picked up themselves along the way.
(“Inside Peek: A loving father shares is wisdom” is available at blurb.com.)