I was in my office recently with a young family who brought in their 8 month old baby boy. For a few brief moments all the issues in our lives, the problems in the world, faded away. All in the midst of his crooked, toothless smile and giggling laugh. It was enough to melt our hearts and calm our souls. Helping us to believe everything is right with the world.
We are surrounded by craziness.
When students fear bullets, not tests at school and academic concerns are overridden by violence, I wonder when we’ll say enough is enough?
When I continue to hear the Charlottesville chants,
“Jews will not replace me”
I can’t help but wonder exactly who and what we’re trying to replace.
When I’m building an office and dealing with vendors who misrepresent their products then refuse to take responsibility, I wonder what happened to professionalism and integrity.
When it is said the economy is better than ever, but most of us are still in financial straights, left to our own resources to survive, I wonder who they are referring to?
When a tax bill passes, touting it will help the middle class and most never saw a dime, I remember it was really the top 1 percent that benefited.
When I hear of mass shootings in Temples, just because someone has a different faith, I worry mine could be next.
But mostly I wonder how we got to this violent, hateful place.
When heartache and fear is swirling all around us, the sweet, innocent baby in my office that day allowed me a reset.
My daughter used to do that for me.
In the midst of a divorce, private practice, spinal surgeries and being a single Mom, her smile was often the only reality I could cling to.
Days when I didn’t think I could face another moment. When all I wanted was to stay under the blankets and pray it would improve, my little girl showed me the way.
If I did my job right, she had no clue of the surrounding turmoil. All she saw and felt was safe, comforted and loved. Precious emotions I desperately needed in return. And there she was -my little light at the end of the tunnel.
Through her eyes I could see new beginnings.
Through her eyes I could see the true essence of the way the world should be.
Through her eyes I could see a future filled with joy.
It wasn’t all the strife and anguish I was engulfed in. It wasn’t what I couldn’t control. It was the beauty and love and innocence she exuded. Today was a day to be enjoyed. To be felt and lived and embraced, one minute at a time.
As exhausted and resistant as I was initially, her little hands on my face, her open searching eyes locked onto mine, pleading for me to get out of bed was all it took to pull me out of my world and into hers.
Like following her down the rabbit hole I was suddenly faced with screwdriver slides, rope climbs and endless pits filled with colored balls at a McDonalds indoor gym. Later we’d walk outside to watch the bees pollinating the flowers, butterflies coming so close you could touch their magnificent wings and swinging to higher and higher heights on a swing set. We could smell the just cut grass at Reid Park while telling each other our hopes and dreams as we described what we saw in the clouds. Sit by the man-made lake where we could see the fish swimming about or even take out paddle boats. That’s when life became singularly focused on what was really important.
My. Little. Girl.
And making sure the world she inherits continues to bring her all the excitement and opportunity she was feeling that day.
We can’t ignore all the craziness around us. To do so would allow it to repeat itself, or worse, continue unabated. But making sure we interject moments of silliness and childish antics will remind us what we’re fighting for.
My daughter is grown and I don’t have grandchildren to guide me down that path quite yet. So I reach out to nieces, nephews and friends who graciously allow me the time to spend with their children, and them the respite, so both our lives are enriched.
But even if that’s not an option why can’t we let loose all on our own?
I remember being involved with someone who had a boy a year younger than my daughter. One night when our kids were at a friend’s house, I suggested we go to the nearby park and swing under the stars. He thought I was crazy. His son needed to be present to validate those inner child desires. When I asked why, he admitted it was due to embarrassment, saying,
“That’s not what grown ups do.”
Again, I asked “why?”
Why can’t we be a kid for a while at any age? Why can’t we all break out of the strict guidelines we structure our lives around and for a few brief moments live as we did so long ago? With abandonment, unencumbered by preconceived ideas of what adults can and can’t do.
Only by remembering those times can we actually appreciate the wonder of hearing music made by the wind as it blows through the trees, seeing flowers sway to humming birds feasting on its nectar, and watching puppies race wildly around the yard, just because they can. Feeling the natural high kids get when they twirl in place and fall to the ground laughing. If possible, doing a head stand just to see everything from a new perspective- upside down!
It’s contagious. Just like a child’s giggle that can not be denied, life really is amazing and awe inspiring. All the rest can be put in a box and placed on top of a shelf for just a while. Then we can remind ourselves that tomorrow really can be different, filled with unknown opportunity.
What we choose to do with it- well, that’s up to us.