One summer day when I was in high school, I planned to go tubing down the river with my brother and his friend. I loved being active and being outdoors, so I was looking forward to the day, but I happened to mention to my brother’s friend that I could spray some Sun-In on my hair and lighten my hair while we were out in the water. He made a comment something like “Why can’t you just enjoy the day and the experience without having to accomplish something else at the same time?” I don’t remember how I answered him, but isn’t it interesting that I remember the incident at all?
I thought of his comment this past week-end when I spent some time with two of our grandchildren. While I love being with them and just enjoy their uniqueness and energy, it seems like I am always thinking about what our time together is doing for them. I want it to be feeding their spirits, creating positive learning experiences, sending all those healthful, feel-good chemicals coursing through their brains and bodies, and making them feel loved and cherished. A tall order, perhaps, for a hike in the park and a trip to get an ice cream cone.
I really don’t think so, though. Who better to love and cherish children than their grandparents, and what can better help children grow in a positive way than time spent doing things they love with people they love? (while at the same time learning to take turns, slow down sometimes for younger siblings, do what someone else wants to do before doing what you want to do, and all those other lessons that take place in the context of relationships) Of course, a grandparent or anyone else doesn’t have to think in the weird way I do to be causing all these things to happen. To some people, it just comes naturally, and they don’t think so deeply about it, and sometimes I envy them.
However, one of the things I want to teach my grandchildren is to be thankful for the way they are and never be afraid to let their natural gifts and talents come forth – to be free to be who they were meant to be. I believe that at our core, we all share certain values, and that they were put there by our creator. These include love, joy, peace, and kindness, among others, and the reason we don’t often access them is because we think we are separate from God and need to do whatever we can on our own to feel better about ourselves or get ahead in this world.
When we realize we don’t have to live our lives alone, separated from God, we can begin to live from our core,where we all share the same ideals, and let them shine in the world in our own unique way. Of course, this sometimes involves hard work and discipline, and saying “yes” when we are afraid, and saying “no” when in our hearts we know that what we want at the time isn’t the best in the long run.
So, if I were asked what kind of a legacy I would like to leave for my children and my grandchildren, it would have to be a legacy of freedom. It would also have to include love, because if everyone lived to bring out their true selves that God placed within them, love has to be a part of that equation because God is love. Not a sentimental love, but a love that goes deeper than that, that wants the highest good for mankind.
I honestly don’t care if my children and grandchildren don’t get mushy and teary-eyed when they think or talk about me when I am gone from this earth. I would much rather they internalized some of the things I have learned in my struggles through the years about love, prayer, faith, happiness, and being true to yourself – in a word. . . free. I don’t even care if they know that they learned anything from me – if they can absorb love and pass it on in their journey through life, that is the important thing.
A love that does the right thing, even when it involves sacrifice, a love that sees everyone through the same eyes, a love that tells the truth even when it might seem that to change the truth a little could help you out financially or socially, a love that includes loving yourself enough to take excellent care of the body you have been given, a love that is grateful to God for choosing to put you on this earth to give expression to all the good He has put inside you in a fabulous, unique way. . .
btw. . . if I knew then what I know now, my response to my brother’s friend might have been, “Actually, I am in preparation for my life as a woman and a multi-tasker. So, while I am enjoying this beautiful day and my hair is turning a gorgeous shade of blonde, are there any personal issues you would like to talk about?” By the time we had reached our destination, I would probably have solved most of his problems. Seriously though, his words most likely stuck with me because they were words I continue to need to hear, and I am grateful for the gentle way they draw me back into living in the present moment. . .