Larry Downs-Day in the LifeBY: LARRY DOWNS


PERSONAL REFLECTION: It all started years ago as an entertaining thing to do with the kids as we would drive home. I love to create memories that are snap shots of life with people. I think that is part of what makes life so memorable and so very special. And on this day as we were all in the car it just sparked. I wanted it to be one of those little moments that you can look back at years later as a family and say “Remember when dad tried to coast up hill?”

We live on the top of a hill overlooking a little dip that we call our valley. To get to our house from the valley we drive up the street perhaps 75 to 80 meters to our home. So I revved the engine and sped up until we reached the base of the hill to begin the climb. I slipped the engine into neutral and shouted back excitedly to the kids “We’re coasting! We’re coasting!”

As a dad I believe it is my job to make these crazy ideas sound adventurous, daring, and even unachievable. All I get is blank stares from my children, all five looking at me as if I have lost my mind. So I start shouting excitedly to them, “We’re not using any gas, and we’re going uphill! This is incredible!” One by one they start to catch on as we begin to slow down, our momentum slipping away. “Quick everyone lean forward!” Only my two youngest comply with my plea. I check my rear view mirror. My wife is just staring at me and laughing. We have now lost all uphill momentum and we find ourselves, hands in the air moving backward down the hill, building up speed as we go, faster and faster. Smiling as I watch their faces in the mirror, I bring us safely to a stop.

Then it happened; unbridled laughter broke out from everyone in the car. “Do it again Dad, do it again!” We laughed and wondered what the neighbors must be thinking of us. But we really didn’t care because we were having fun. Memories do not have to be expensive. Sure, you can spend a lot of money to try and create one with your family, but here is a list of ingredients that I believe create the best memories:

1)      Originality. Don’t try and copy what others have done.

2)      Spontaneity. Let things happen and then act on the moment.

3)      Laugh. Allow yourself to be the cause of the laughter as well.

4)      Touch. Be a part of it.

5)      Emotion. If you are excited they are excited. Be real.

You set the tone. You have the ability to create memories in others. Good memories are like assets. Your family will place those memories in your account in their mind. Draw on them frequently, add to them. These good shared memories produce trust.

So my friend, create a memory. Go coast uphill.


I am the SVP of Spanish publishing for the Spanish division for the Americas of Harper Collins. I have been happily married to my wife, Ruth, for twenty-five plus years. Ruth is the organizational strength of our home, allowing me to do what I do in my professional life without worry. We have five children, two sons and three daughters, who keep us on our toes.



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