No matter where we go on our morning outing, either to the park or the lake or on some other excursion, if Ben sees other children, he loves to ‘play’ with them. Being only two-and-a-half, and having been cooped up like the rest of us since Covid hit, he really has very little idea of what it might mean to play with other children. For now, he thinks that playing in a park with another child means chasing them. Sometimes they are aware he is doing it, other times they too are only about two or three years old, are wrapped up in their own world, and have absolutely no idea he is chasing them.
Recognizing that we are in our very last precious weeks of summer, Jim and I have been trying to take Ben to the lake as much as possible. We’re stretching this outdoor season out just as far as we can, understanding there is a long, bubble-filled, winter ahead of us. Recently, while at the lake, Ben and I wandered down the beach. There was a young boy, around nine or ten years old, there with his mom. Ben saw him and said to me, ‘I’m going to chase him’. I gave the young boy a questioning look to make sure it was ok and not receiving an immediate negative response, Ben was off. You can just picture this little chase. Ben’s little legs just turning over and the older boy not really having to move much at all.
The little boy was simply amazing. He didn’t have any more clue what to do than Ben did but he so kindly indulged Benjamin in his chasing. Ben was in his glory, running after the boy who would simply get a few steps ahead, change direction and wait. When it was all over, less than ten minutes after it started, Ben had never ‘caught’ the boy. I thanked the boy for his kindness, complimented his mother on her remarkable son and Ben and I returned to our spot on the beach where we drove his trucks in the sand and splashed in the water.
Ben continues to talk about the chase. He loved it!
I’ve been thinking about it too. Not so much about the actual chase, the one where the little boy was so kind to Ben, but about chases I’ve been on in my own life. I always thought I was someone who prefers the completion of an activity or task, prefers the check mark on the list when an item is complete, rather than being the person who lives for the actual doing of the thing; the chase. Yet as I really think objectively about my life, it turns out I might be someone who loves the chase. I hope I am.
In the biggest chase of our life, no one is really that keen to be first to the finish line. It’s kind of final. And we only get one chance at it. So, assuming all of us can say this isn’t the chase we want to win, we are left looking at all the other little things we will find ourselves chasing in our lives.
As teenagers, we chase adulthood, imagining all the freedom and excitement that comes with it. As adults, we wonder why we didn’t enjoy that chase a bit more; the shine wears off the ‘freedom’, and the reality of being responsible sets in. In our jobs, some of us chase promotions, imagining the joy we’ll feel upon receiving them. Sometimes we are right; the new promotion really does bring us joy. Sometimes, we wonder how we could have forgotten to enjoy the job we just left. As middle age approaches, many of us chase retirement, imagining all the carefree, travel filled, health improved years we will have. Sometimes, the shock of having no one relying on us, of recognizing how quickly we were replaced, and of spending some of our newfound freedom noticing new aches and pains, we wonder if we might have been wiser to enjoy the chase more.
If we look even more microscopically, we’ll notice we have little things to chase each day. Sometimes we’re just chasing the day away, waiting for evening when we can relax. Sometimes we’re chasing through meetings with friends, knowing we can put our feet up at the end of it all. Sometimes we’re chasing through traffic, trying to arrive somewhere. Or chasing through winter waiting for spring. Often, we overlook the joy we could be having during the chase, as we aim at the finish line.
I never chase away my days with Ben. Nor do I chase away my days cycling in the mountains or spending time with our children. I don’t chase away opportunities to develop new workshops, nor do I chase away spending time on our project in Kenya. I don’t chase away visits with friends or time spent with Jim. This week I was putting some details on a little quilt I’m making for Ben. I noticed I am in no hurry to finish it. I’m loving adding some special finishing touches. I recognize how lucky I am to have fingers that still work well enough to do some fine sewing, and how even luckier I am to have a grandson to sew for.
I’m trying to take a page from Ben’s book. He loved the chase. He never once mentioned that he didn’t catch the boy; for him, that was never the purpose. It was the sheer joy of being in the chase.
My inquiry for you is, ‘How much am I enjoying my chase?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to maximize your chase.