When I was a child I remember playing with a building set that
interlocked and resembled red bricks. It wasn’t a trendy toy, to say the least, but the hours my friend, Chrissy and I spent dividing up the blocks equally and building our own towers, negotiating trades of this block for that block and figuring out how we could connect the walls with limited supplies were all lessons that were learned. It wasn’t the final product, but the fun of building and playing together. We were immersed in the moment, not thinking about the future or worrying about the past, just enjoying the present in her grandparent’s basement. This world of imagination was our shared reality.
But somewhere along the path of growing up we let the worries of the world creep in. We worry about the future. We can’t let go of the past. I recently heard a quote that said, “The way to know of an impending nervous breakdown is taking one’s work too seriously.” When did life become so serious? Who told us it should be this way? Is it possible to look at life with the eyes of a child…lessons to be learned through the situations that are being experienced in our life? The red bricks from our childhood change into the bricks of situations that give us the opportunity to learn and grow.
Last night as I was vacuuming up a mess from our holiday decorating I smelled a familiar burning. My 50-year-old Kirby vacuum (yes, I said 50!) was clogged. It has happened before, and unlike former times of complete frustration and exasperation, I decided that I was going to peacefully just sit down and try to figure out what was wrong. I looked at it with the eyes of a child who was fascinated to take apart a toy. I tried cutting out some string that was wrapped around the barrel. That didn’t work. I detached the head and cleaned out the inside. That didn’t work. I unscrewed something…not sure what…and looked inside. ”Hmm…this is quite interesting,” I thought. I put it all back together, not sure what, if anything, I accomplished…and guess what…it worked!
I laughed at the thought that maybe this vacuum was giving me an opportunity to learn something about being patient, having confidence in my ability to solve an unfamiliar problem, and to enjoy the process. Rather than being annoyed that my carpet was clearly in need of a cleaning, worrying that it would be broken for good and we’d have to go buy a new one, being resentful that everyone else was out watching a Christmas movie and that I hadn’t planned on spending a half an hour disassembling an old vacuum, I chose to be at peace with the situation and actually enjoy it.
So to wrap up this idea as a present for you this season, don’t take your life too seriously. Look for the ways that lessons can be learned from seemingly frustrating situations. Can you choose to take the route of peace rather than hurrying? Can you be resourceful with what you have? Can you learn something new? Can you stretch your imagination? Can you tackle an unfamiliar problem with the eyes of a child, ready to try something new and see what happens? Most of all have fun throughout the process. It is not in the end result, a perfectly decorated house, presents galore under the tree, a holiday party to wow the neighbors, but in the journey of getting there. Make December a time to create memories. Enjoy the process of shopping, baking and decorating rather than choosing to be frustrated by a long list of “to-dos”. Give yourself the gift of peace and you will be giving yourself and your family the best gift of all, a new you!