If any of you are like me, you are the hero of your own story. You have created big dreams for your life and your family, but you must overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve those dreams. It is a journey… a journey that requires balance. It is a war… a war between being in the moment and focusing on achieving future desires and dreams. How do you find balance? My secret weapons are the wise spiritual leaders in my life. My children!
Yesterday morning, I took Skylar out for a bike ride on her Strider. I walked and she strided. Striders are considered, generally speaking, balance bikes. They help young children develop the challenging skills of balance on a bicycle first and then adding the relatively simple action of pedaling a bicycle is an easy addition to their skill set. Of my children who are of bike riding age, they have all learned to ride a traditional pedal bicycle by the age of three without training wheels. They simply gained the skill of balance on a Strider and then went directly to a bicycle with pedals. It is impressive how easy it seems.
When we were only a few blocks away from home, she stopped and picked up a leaf she found lying on the street. “Daddy, a leaf for you!” she said. It is so funny to me, because she had such reverence and awe for this seemingly simple leaf. Whenever the wisdom of a child makes me stop and look at things differently, I try to pay attention. I realized bikes are not the only places in life that require balance. Life’s journey, for instance, requires great balance too! Skylar reminded me of walking with Mckinley in Alaska ten years earlier.
I distinctly remember trying to get home from a walk through the woods in Alaska with my daughter, Mckinley. I was in my head worried about something inconsequential, but nonetheless distracting me from my vision and goals in life and from being in the moment with her. She walked ahead of me learning to walk and traverse a rugged, rooted trail. Like most trails, there were large ups and downs created by the terrain and small ups and downs created by the root systems that crossed the path. Her foot caught a large root that emerged above the beaten path, and down she went with a thud as her body hit the earth.
As she got up and brushed herself off, she extended her hand to me, and in her hand was a pine cone she had discovered after she found herself with a new vantage point lying flat on the trail. But it was not just a pine cone to her. She extended it to me as if it was this heavenly gift from God and I should stop and take notice of this amazing thing she had found just lying there in the dirt. I remember kneeling down next to her and looking at this gift in the form of a pine cone and expressing awe just like her, “Wow, what an amazing thing you have found, Mckinley!”
As we continued down the trail, I noticed she began to focus on each step in front of her. To avoid tripping and falling again, she began to focus on each tree root that crossed the path, but soon she lost the path entirely and found herself in the brush looking for which way to go. I thought I had better give her some mandatory parental advice on how avoid getting tripped up on the trail and how not to lose her way. “As you walk, glance in front of you and take a mental picture and keep it in your mind, but then keep your eyes focused on the path ahead” I told her.
“Keep your eyes focused on the path ahead,” I replayed in my mind as we walked down the trail. This phrase quickly ceased to be parental advice to a young child, but serendipitous child’s advice to a parent who had lost the path in his own life. It was not long before our strategy of keeping our eyes focused on the path ahead led us all the way home. We had achieved our original goal, but along the way, we had an inner transformation. We can be in the moment and keep our mind focused on our ultimate journey. Maybe then, we might not lose our way.
It is easy to dismiss that we are the heroes of our own story. It is possible to get stuck in the quagmire of trip-ups and failures and forget that what makes life interesting are, in fact, the ups and downs (the obstacles and failures we must overcome) along the journey. The ultimate achievement of what we set out to accomplish in our lives might be assured, but it is the inner transformation that happens within us along the journey that surprises us and helps us see the world differently.
How do you find balance along your journey?
Do you enjoy the ups and downs along the journey as much as you should?
Who are the wisdom coaches in your life?