Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bouncing back from spills teaches resilience

     An area woman is recovering from a serious motorcycle accident that has taken her leg. It’s an uphill battle. I can’t fathom how she will deal with this life-altering situation, yet she comes from a family that possesses a remarkable strength, and together they will make it.
     I preface my piece with those sobering remarks, and continue on with lighter, related ones for 2015.  
     Getting knocked down to your knees every once in a while is an all right thing. Believe me, the world looks a lot different from the ground up.
     As painful as it is to even think about, we’ve all looked back at those experiences, and hopefully, they have been watersheds. We moved forward with a clearer understanding of ourselves, and embarked on a fresh path.

     Take the kid safety issue with Red Rover and Wiffle ball banned from certain school playgrounds. It has been blown way out of proportion. I am amazed that parents are not looking at the advantages of outside play and casual connections with other children. Instead, they are dwelling on the slightest potential for danger. There’s enough legitimate trouble in the world to concentrate on avoiding entanglement.
      “Let kids be kids” is valid. There’s always a possibility for serious injury in just about every active game, but you can’t let that dictate your choices. That’s simply not a healthy attitude.
     Then again, what parent hasn’t been to the ER at some point in child rearing with a kid’s broken bone? Most of those arms, legs and collarbone injuries have occurred because of taking on challenges. I don’t know of a child that wouldn’t go back up to climb another tree, and even higher, the next time.
      It’s nail biting sitting on the sideline of a football game and watching your teenager tumble to the ground and not get right back up. A huddle of coaches surrounding your “baby” brings an uneasy few moments.
      Growing up on the block I was no star athlete, and always one of the younger ones tagging along, but I did get out there and participate with the neighborhood kids in the traditional games. I don’t recall any permanent scars, although my knees were scraped to the bone regularly, and I am sure that once in awhile my ego was bruised, too, when I made a complete fool of myself.
     Perhaps a little falling down and taking risks early in life make it a heck of a lot easier when things get tough later on. All this micro managing in the name of fulfilling the parental role might need to be reevaluated. Has it gone overboard, or has the world become so fearful that kids can’t be kids?
     There’s always a “helicopter mom” orbiting, and my advice to parents is to back off and leave children room to figure things out.
     I love to watch a baby on the verge of taking his first steps. The focused look on his determined face is centered on this one and only task. As much as his folks want to reach out to grab him, basically it is up to the wee one to do the hard work.
     And there will be a lot of falling down, too, while he experiments with what his wobbly legs will and will not do. It’s the beginning of his ups and downs on his journey in life, and risk and failure may be used for improvement if they are approached positively.
     That bottom up, or floor level perspective, tells me to appreciate life in a simplistic way.
     Life sure looks different from the carpet. Playing on the floor with a child cues me that I should spend more time seeing the world from a little one’s point of view. It helps me sort the valuable and cherished from the superfluous and temporary.
     Yoga practice does that for me, too. Sitting on my mat, breathing in easily, aligning my body and practicing quietness removes me away from the lofty whirlwind of the daily grind, and places me in a state of contemplative peacefulness.
      In my estimation the best learning that I have ever done was after a huge effort that took a lot of roundabout ways to achieve my goal. I always appreciate those insights, and am grateful that I learned a lesson when I reflect back on the ordeal. Most of the trauma was self-imposed, too.

     At some point into my teaching career I grew weary, or so I believed, with the Upstate area, and I was convinced that moving and starting fresh was the solution. It’s that “grass is always greener somewhere else” notion that was rearing its ugly head.
     In fact, there was a position in a different part of the state that I could have obtained, but pieces of the puzzle did not fit together, even though I insisted on jamming unmatched wedges at each other to no avail. Finally, I took a careful assessment, and I started noticing what I could improve right here.
     Things can get messy and upended, too, but that’s part of the game. When the waters get murky, the comfortable thing is to bail out, but a good old-fashioned dunking might be what the doctor orders.

     If I could count on two hands all the times that I picked up the pieces of my life, and moved on a little wiser for the wear, then I would be amazed at my resilience.