My biggest wakeup call came recently and it was our 3 year old grandson, Kolton, who opened my eyes to it.
A beautiful sunny morning, we had walked over to his future school, where he enjoyed watching all the kids at play. The big kids even let him score a goal during a fun game of soccer. He was thrilled! Afterwards, we walked a few more blocks toward the local Tim Horton’s coffee shop, picking up some pinecones and dandelions for his mother along the way.
“What do you think about having a cookie, Kolton?” He was delighted at that prospect and asked if I was happy. I paused for a moment and said, “Actually, I’ll be happy just to sit down!”
When we got there, I ordered a coffee. The nice lady behind the counter showed great patience – as Kolton finally decided that the big gingerbread man cookie with bright blue icing would be a perfect choice.
As we sat at the table, he looked up from his cookie crunching to again ask, “Me happy. Grandpa happy?” Being a bit more tired than usual, I didn’t directly answer him. Instead (probably looking for inspiration) I asked, “Why are you happy, Kolton?”
Looking up at me with blue icing covering his face, his answer came haltingly, in the form of a question, “Because I can sit down?”
Later, back at home, I let the enormity of his words sink into my heart … ‘out of the mouth of babes’!
“And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.”
— Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin
I guess our little ones don’t need a reason to be happy… unless they borrow one from us adults. Yet, shouldn’t my being with him, and sharing his love, be reason enough for me to be happy? Excited? Proud?
Later that day – as if to drive this message home – we got the call that my Mother-in-law had been admitted to hospital suffering from a heart attack. And, although it was deemed “mild”, I’ll never forget the real fear in my wife’s eyes. It’s another reminder that Life just won’t be taken for granted.
“‘Cause I have wandered through this world,
And as each moment has unfurled,
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams.
People go just where they will,
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it’s later than it seems.”
— Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne
My dad used to say that people don’t know when they’ve got it good, which makes it easy to start sleep-walking through life, oblivious to the needs of others. I mean, with only a few aches and pains, who am I to complain? If I’ve been so blessed in life – with every real reason to be happy – I have no real reason to be sad.
Yet, we have free will to choose our thoughts and probably it’s the most important work of our lives. In ‘Paradise Lost’, English poet John Milton wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” So, if we’re unhappy now, how will we fare during a time of real need?
I learned from my grandson that it’s simple. This ‘not being in the present’ can lead us far from being our best.
There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known,
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown,
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be,
— All You Need is Love by The Beatles
Examples of people trying their best are all around us. Like author and motivational speaker Spencer West, who despite losing his legs as a child, is now preparing to be the first person to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro – 20,000 steps for charity, in a wheelchair!
Maybe asking the right kind of questions will give us the right answers:
What kind of examples do our actions and attitudes create? Are we redefining what’s personally possible? If not now, when?
Doctor my eyes– cannot see the sky,
Is this the prize for having learned how not to cry?
As for me, I’ll always remember the day that little Kolton reminded me to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’!