Whether we know it or not, each of us is on a continuum of growth. Not being open to growth and change, though, can make us falter on our journey through life.
We all know people who have eddied out of the flow of life. They appear stuck in a routine and can’t seem to find a way out.
Other folks seem to thrash around, caught in dramatic currents and undertows of life, struggling and expending great effort for little or no result.
When we are open to growth and learning, we become child-like again, enjoying the excitement and exhilaration of change, moving past obstacles.
“When I’m in 5th grade, I’ll be as cool as Andrea,” I thought as I stared out the bus window.
Andrea was a fifth grader when I was in third grade. Andrea was energetic, athletic, confident and tan and lived a few blocks away. I searched for opportunities to watch her.
In our neighborhood of over fifty kids, Andrea rode her bike with an air of authority. She skated backwards down the street, turning effortlessly in circles. Andrea laughed easily, whistled two- fingered with earsplitting precision and was surrounded by friends. Andrea was my vision of Nancy Drew as a ten-year-old.
As I swung my pigeon-toed orthopedic shoed feet on the bus, I dreamed of becoming. Becoming someone like Andrea, not the shy, self-conscious, awkward bookworm that I was.
Summer vacation gave the neighborhood kids opportunities to roam the woods and creek in groups of two or three.
One day, my group came across Andrea’s in the creek bottom. “Come on,” Andrea said. “I’ll show you a place where we can swing across the creek like Tarzan”.
We hiked what seemed like an hour to a part of the creek I’d never seen. Thick muscadine vines dangled like pythons from high dark oak branches.
I was in heaven. An adventure with Andrea. Even if I was breaking my mother’s stay-within-earshot rule.
Andrea grabbed a vine, ran backwards and swung easily to the opposite bank. Every girl sailed across multiple times, as I watched.
“You can do it,” Andrea yelled across the water. I was paralyzed. “We’re leaving. Come on.”
The girls walked ahead. “Run and go and hang on tight,” Andrea shouted as she landed at my side.
I grabbed the grapevine, twice as thick as a baseball bat, walked backwards and ran. For a few seconds, my arms burned as they held my body in space. My landing was not pretty. But Andrea was there, smiling.
As I stood up, my school bus daydreams became blazing potentialities. With dirty bleeding knees, somehow I knew that I could become the person I wanted to be. I could change.
In those flying seconds, I saw that each of us has a vision of who we could be, should be and would be, if only we remain open to the possibilities that appear before us every day.
Every child is on a path of becoming. Developing a habit of becoming creates a way for us to remain open to a lifetime of opportunities and growth. Let us always remain open to the challenge of change. Let us help guide children over the bumps, the ups, and the downs, as we all venture on this journey called life.
Run, go, and hang on tight.