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Texting Wisdom: A Father’s Guide to a Happy Productive Life

Joe Tradii poses for a photo with his book, “Texting Wisdom” on 2022, at his home in Nine Mile Falls, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Joe Tradii poses for a photo with his book, “Texting Wisdom” on 2022, at his home in Nine Mile Falls, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review For The Spokesman-Review

In 2017, while visiting his son at Washington State University, Joe Tradii suffered a serious heart attack.

That brush with death prompted him to begin writing a book of advice and guidance for his son, just in case he wasn’t around to provide it in person.

“The heart attack gave me the impetus to stop thinking and start doing,” Tradii said.

And the pandemic provided the time and space to finish the book, which he published in April via Amazon.

Told through a series of imagined text exchanges, “Texting Wisdom: A Father’s Advice for a Happy, Productive Life,” provides some lessons Tradii wanted to impart to not just his son, but others, in a unique and relevant way.

“While teaching at Central Washington University and other higher-ed institutions, I noticed many of my students struggling with the issues addressed in the book,” he said. “This inspired me to create the book, adapted from the final lecture I gave at the end of each course.”

Tradii, 60, spent most of his career in copywriting and marketing and taught public relations and ad copywriting at Seattle University and CWU. The idea to use text exchanges complete with texting lingo, emojis and GIFs, stemmed from his career.

“My background involves keeping current on the latest means of communication,” Tradii said. “I wanted to keep it brief – texting is brief.”

The 76-page book tackles topics such as “Receive Feedback Graciously,” “Always Cut the Cards” and “Manners Count.”

Each section starts with a text exchange between “The Boy” and Dad. For example, “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight,” begins with this exchange:

Dad: “What’s new?

The Boy: “Tired. Just got up.”

Dad: “What time did you go to sleep?”

The Boy: “Who says I slept?”

Tradii goes on to write, “This section might be more aptly titled ‘Don’t tempt fate.’ Not as catchy though, IMO. The reality is that opportunities to get into some serious trouble– or to end up as collateral damage – exponentially increase as the clock rolls around to the small digits.”

Many of the lessons feature common sense wisdom that older generations grew up with. In his work with students, Tradii sensed many of them struggled with peer pressure.

“There’s so much modeling of bad behavior and rudeness,” he said. “It’s celebrated online and anonymity helps fuel it. I’m bringing the ideas of courtesy and manners to the modern age through a modern means of communication.”

The book’s underlying theme is kindness – both to others and ourselves.

“You shouldn’t be self-conscious about looking after yourself,” he said.

The life lesson he’s still hasn’t mastered is featured in the section titled “Live in the Present – It’s All You Truly Have.”

“I’m still working on that one,” Tradii said. “Most of the things I’ve stressed about have never come to pass.”

“Texting Wisdom: A Father’s Guide to a Happy Productive Life” also includes an appendix of common texting terms and an appendix featuring fatherly advice throughout history. Included in the historical advice is Polonius’s Advice to Laertes from “Hamlet,” and Tradii’s contemporary translation of it.

Shakespeare wrote, “And these few precepts in thy memory See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportioned thought his act.”

Tradii translated, “Here are a few important ideas to keep in mind; Think about what you’re going to say before you open your pie hole. And think before you act. Maybe count to ten before hitting send.”

Though the book is sprinkled with humor, Tradii hopes the core messages of kindness and compassion stand out.

“I’d like to see a kinder and more loving society,” said Tradii. “This generation is going to be the one that makes the change.”

Texting Wisdom: A Father’s Guide to a Happy Productive Life is available in print and Kindle versions at https://www.amazon.com/Joe-Tradii/e/B07KVNYFCK

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