I sent a picture to my daughter. Lisa is currently finishing up her four years of service as a U.S. Marine. Soon I got a text message back.

“I wish I was that little again.”

And do you know what my first thought was?

“Don’t we all.”

 

The thought stuck with me the rest of the day.  And then the next day.  And honestly off on on these last several weeks.

I had questions.

“Why is that such a common thought?”

“If it was possible to go back, what would I have done different?”

“Is looking back like that even useful?”

My conclusion is that is useful. But only when our thoughts are focused in the right direction.  We can’t change the past, so thoughts of disappointment, what-if and regret don’t move us forward.  And if you have read much of what I write, moving forward is what I try to stay focused on.

Here, in no specific order, are my conclusions.

  • When we are young we are innocent. We don’t know, what we don’t know. Everything is possible. Our parents are perfect. The sun always shines. And when the sun doesn’t shine and it rains we have rain boots and rain coats so we can explore the puddles and the small winding streams and cascade across the lawn, down the driveway and along the street curb. Eventually they work their way around the leaves and sticks to cascade down the storm sewer beneath the street. Where it went from there was another mystery of life for me. Back then anything was possible.
  • Life was easy. Easy in the sense that for most of us, we had someone to care for us. To look out for us. To make sure we were warm, that we had a bed to sleep in and food to eat.
  • It’s hard to have regrets when you are small. Everyday is a new day with new discoveries to be made. Not only did we have a short attention span, we had a short memory.
  • Anything is possible. That’s what we were told. And for a long time we believed it.

So what changed? I think what changes is that we start moving towards “realistic” and away from “possible”.

All to often we lose our sense of wonder and joy. That, I believe can kill our spirit and reduce us to nothing more than the phrase “let’s be realistic”. Realistic? What does that mean? Be safe? Give up? Go along, to get along? I’m not completely sure, but I do know it is a place we should not want to be.

I don’t normally think of the actor Will Smith as a philosopher. No, when I think of Will Smith, I think of a guy scared witless while fighting a 50 foot tall cockroach.

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But Will Smith had this to say about being realistic.

“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity. Why would you be realistic? What’s the point of being realistic? I’m going to do it. It’s done. It’s already done. The second I decide it’s done, it’s already done.” ~ Will Smith

When I sent that photo to my daughter, I sent it as a card. The title I chose was simple. It said “Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder and Joy.”

Once you lose that, you fall into the bucket of realistic. The lidless garbage can full of rainwater and left over debris. No one wants to play there.

Run. Run fast. Run back back for the moving water. The the one you can float a stick in and and call it a boat. Or better yet, find a friend and race your boats.

Or get yourself a bottle of bubbles and share the joy and wonder with a child.

Whatever you do, don’t chase realistic; if you do you will see your dreams, like the rain water, cascade into the storm sewer never to be seen again.

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“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

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