Last week, when I flew from Austin to Nashville, I was treated to an overbooked flight full of small children. I was even that lucky passenger who ended up with the screaming child who kicked the back of my seat the entire flight. I figured I dare not complain, because it’ll be my luck it’ll be MY child screaming and kicking in a few years. I hoped deep down my lack of (visible) irritation might earn me some good karma points for the future.
Prior to boarding, it was pretty impossible to miss the gate crawling with children. I groaned, but soon one family caught my attention. I was afforded some wonderful little-people-watching.
I watched as a dad lead three kids to the windows so they could watch the planes come and go. His brood consisted of two boys, approximately ages 6 and 5, and a little girl who had to be shooting for 2 years old. The mom was no where to be seen for a long time, and I was filled with admiration at the dad’s patience. He was the picture of calm! The two boys were pretty self-sufficient. The little girl, though, was this whirlwind bundle of energy. Dad was constantly trying to let her be free without letting her get away.
At one point, though, things were a bit calmer around the gate, and Dad let the little girl run a little further. Her eyes shined bright and her smile was wide as this big expanse of carpet opened in front of her. Without hesitation, she threw her tiny body in the direction of “freedom” only to quickly get tangled up in her own feet. Down she went.
I waited for the tears to start, but instead this look of shock came over her face. Her mouth going from a smile to a shocked, “Oh!” She blinked as if she were confused by her fall. Soon, two strong arms scooped her back up to her feet, as Dad lifted her up, set her down, and without hesitation she was off again without fear. This time, she got all the way across the open area.
Right away, I was struck by this realization. Even today, at 29, I’m still that little girl. We all are from time to time.
Life opens up a door, and we look out across this open area. And with bright shining eyes, we run towards it only to get tripped up — often by our feet. We haven’t fully prepared for this opportunity, or perhaps some mistake from the past sneaks up to bite us. Maybe we actually suddenly second-guess our own abilities.
Out of no where, strong arms come to scoop us up. Those arms could literally be a hug (or a bit of advice, or even a loan) from a parent. Perhaps its an encouraging word from a friend. Maybe its even as simple as a smile from a stranger that gives us a boost in our attitude.
However, its in that instant that we have a choice. We can give up and decide instead to ask someone to carry us. Perhaps we can just sit down where we are and give up. Or we can decide to run. To take that encouragement and aid and decide to run towards our goal and opportunity in our life at full speed, un-afraid of falling again.
I was left sitting for the whole flight chewing on this revelation. How many times have I opted to give up? How many times have I taken the lift up and continued to run? And will I have the nerve to run again and again towards my goals?
I hope any time I think about sitting down and giving up I’ll think about that bright eyed little girl with no fear of falling. Who after falling down, getting up and running across the room continued to be adventurous. Who tripped over luggage and her own feet, only to get up and try again. Who only cried at the top of her lungs when she was strapped back in her stroller, because all she wanted to do was keep going. She was determined to not be stopped.
I want to have that little girl’s energy and ambition.
I will have it.