I’ve made a conscious choice to not fixate on those but rather to notice a few things close up. In particular, I’ve been noticing things that on the surface, seem to be so small as to be completely insignificant, and yet when examined may carry the secret to great success.
The two that caught my attention in the past couple of days are Benjamin and my friend Gina.
Benjamin, escorted by his very thoughtful mom, Kaitlyn, has been coming for regular visits to our house since I have been home sitting and knitting. The wonderful thing about Ben is that he could not care less whether I have one good foot or two, whether I can walk or not, or whether I can do my usual activities. He is simply delighted to be wherever he is, with whomever is with him.
Over these past two weeks, Benjamin has learned how to crawl and I have been captivated by his progress. When we first arrived home from Scotland, he was very close to being mobile. He could figure out how to get up on all fours from his stomach but he clearly could not coordinate his brain with his hands and knees. If he moved one hand, he was stuck. His brain could not seem to figure out that the next step was to move the opposite knee. Some mothers would have got on the floor with him and ‘helped’ him figure it out. Kaitlyn calmly sat back and said, ‘He’ll get it.’
Each day, many, many times, he worked at his new skill. His next phase was to notice something just out of reach that he wanted, and head down he would strike out toward it. He would take one or sometimes two crawling ‘steps’ toward it, stop, reach out and measure whether he had arrived at his goal. Somehow, he must have known this was an important thing to figure out because he did not give up. Within days he could eye a shiny object and easily crawl to it. Now he loves to do laps, always pausing in our front foyer to smile and say hi to the baby who lives in the mirror there.
As I have watched this amazing development, I have wondered more than once if most adults, myself included, would be as persistent. I’m trying to imagine what the equivalent of moving from stomach to fully mobile would be in an adult life. I do know that when I have tried to learn a new skill, I have often decided that perhaps the particular skill I had been thinking of, was just not one of my ‘gifts’. I know I have quit long before being able to give myself a satisfying, congratulatory smile in the front hall mirror.
Interestingly, the second observation made by me this week also occurred in our front hall. On Friday evening, long after the street lights were on and I had settled back in my chair after changing into my ‘comfy’ pants, my front doorbell rang. It seemed a bit late to be the local kids collecting for a bottle drive and with Jim not yet home, that left me to hobble to the door and to answer the bell. I was thrilled to find my friend Gina standing on my front porch, bouquet of flowers and a card in hand. She had heard about my foot and had stopped by to say hi, to see how I was doing and to drop off the flowers.
Gina stayed only for a short visit; we didn’t even make it out of the front hallway. Though she hadn’t yet been home from work, she had stopped to check in on me. I filled her in on our trip and we caught up on our families and other news. While our visit was short in minutes, its impact has been long lasting. Not only have I been enjoying the gorgeous fall flowers she brought, I have also spent time thinking about her thoughtfulness.
Gina did not become thoughtful on Friday night. Clearly, this is a way of being for her. It is a pattern, or a habit or a way of living. If it was not so, I can only guess that even if she had had the fleeting thought of stopping in on a Friday evening, she could have easily talked herself out of it. I’ll bet she has a pair of ‘comfy’ pants that were calling her name that night too.
To the casual observer, it might appear that this is just easy for Gina. To the truth seeker, it would be obvious this way of being is not easy, rather it is a practiced choice.
Somewhere in her past, and I have known her for many years now, she had to have started this practice of thoughtfulness. I imagine that her first attempt took plenty of energy and planning, much like Benjamin’s first crawling attempts. She may not even have got it perfect the first time. But over time, she must have believed this was important enough to perfect, and so through years of completing countless thoughtful deeds, she has arrived at the place where it looks easy.
When Gina left, I closed the door and caught my reflection in the mirror. I was smiling. I hoped that when Gina arrived home, she too would take the time to circle around her house, stopping at her mirror to smile at the thoughtful friend looking back.
My inquiry for you this week is ‘Who is in my mirror?’
Elizabeth creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. She provides leadership and personal coaching for individuals and groups. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to focus on matching the person in the mirror with the one you strive to become.