When I go for long walks, I like to observe things, especially nature – the trees, the sky, birds, grasses, wildflowers, water. Twice recently I saw a flash of blue in the woods and discovered an indigo bunting flying nearby. Grasshoppers are plentiful right now, and one of the paths I walk on is full of them. The leaves are changing ever so slightly, and there’s a little bit of crunch beneath my feet from the leaves that are the first to drop.
I also like to observe people, especially children. I love to see what they’re up to, and try to take lessons from them and the way they interact with the world. They rarely seem rushed, and the smallest thing can cause them to stop and investigate. I love their energy, and seeing a bunch of kids running or racing on their bikes almost seems to give me energy. Living in a retirement community someday is not at all appealing to me – I love to be around people of all ages.
As I walked by a house recently, I noticed three or four bikes neatly parked near the front door in the area where most people would have foundation plantings of shrubs or flowers. No shrubs in front of this house, just bikes. I think there are a few boys living there, and I’ve seen them outside throwing the football around with their mom. The lawn is neatly mowed and maybe a little packed down from kids playing on it. Nothing really stands out about this house, but every time I walk or drive by I think of the boys and their mom playing with the football. Now I think of the bikes.
Sure, it’s lovely to have flowers and beautiful plantings around a house, but if I had those little boys, and time and money were limited, I’d go for the bikes too. Childhood will never be repeated; someday those boys will be grown up and gone. We can’t be worried about what other people are doing or the things they have. We need to look at the big picture and invest in the things that really matter, the things that our hearts tell us are important.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to share some of my thoughts with this mom. Parents need all the encouragement they can get, so. . . encourage a parent today, spend time with a child or give them a smile. If a family near you has a house that doesn’t quite meet your standards, but you see the parents out playing with the kids, remember they are raising kids (not a picture-perfect lawn), and there is no more important work.