A Question Worth Considering

child runningWe stepped out into the crisp January air, her small, sweet  hand wrapped in mine.  She smiled with her whole body as we began our walk to the park.  Each of my steps was two or three for her.  We paused often to smell flowers and watch bugs zig zag across the sidewalk.  The sun’s rays danced on the leaves of the elm trees above us and filtered softly onto our shoulders.  The birds showered us with song.

It was a brand new day.  A brand new year, for that matter.  And we were seizing it.

My morning with my three year old niece was a liberating one.  It took us twenty glorious minutes to make our way a few hundred yards from the house my husband grew up in to the old elementary school grounds down the street.  When we got there, Lucy stretched her arms out like wings and ran joyfully across the playground as the wind playfully tossed her wavy blond locks and almost seemed to lift her off the ground.  She was freedom personified.  Sheer joy.  Exuberance.

And I thought, this is what I want more of in my life.

Maybe it was the week of vacation that preceded our little walk that allowed me to forget about all the thoughts that had furiously competed for my attention before we left for our trip.  Perhaps it was being a few hundred miles away from home and all the things that needed to be done – tasks yet to be finished and those yet to come.  Or maybe it was the sheer inspiration of my beautiful little companion that allowed me to be fully and completely present, immersing myself in each moment and allowing it to unfold without any interference on my part.  I felt alive.  Vibrant.  Happy.

We tottered on balance beams, skipped across hopscotch squares, and visited a coop of chickens, watching them peck at the ground and contemplating what each bird’s name should be.  But the highlight of our little jaunt was the tall, spiraling slide that crowned the jungle gym.  Lucy had decided she wanted to ride down on my lap.  We got half way up and stopped.  She looked up to our destination, and then down from where we had started and said, “That’s high.”

“Yes, it is sweetie,” I replied.  “We don’t have to go up there if you don’t want to.”

She looked at me for a moment and then wrinkled her brow with determination and resolve.  “I want to slide!”

“OK then.  Here we go…”  We climbed the last couple of steps and squatted onto the platform. Lucy sat tall on my lap, brimming with courage and delight.  “One, two, three!”  As we let go and spiraled down the slide, the squeal of her laughter brought a wild and uninhibited smile to my face.

And I thought again, this is what I need more of in my life.  Maybe this is what we all need more of in our lives.

I know.  It’s easy for a three year old to experience sheer joy and bliss at the very prospect of being alive.  They have no responsibilities, no bills to pay, no people depending on them.  They have yet to experience heartbreak, disappointment, and disillusionment.  And let’s face it – our adult lives are a lot more complicated than a day at the park playing hopscotch and watching bugs and chickens.  I still can’t help but think about it.

Now, back at my desk, staring at my Outlook calendar, I can still feel  the childlike wonder and euphoria of that day.  It begs the question, how can I bring more of that to my life?  To my work?  To the world?

This question has begun to deepen and grow roots.  It has taken on a life of its own.  It peeks out from my computer screen and beckons to me.  It lands softly in my mind as I drive to and from appointments.  It jumps out of file folders and onto my desk.  It takes a seat at the table when I meet with my clients.  And it brings with it more questions…

What if we could somehow strip our daily activities of the assumptions and heaviness they have accumulated over the years and approach things with the same sense of curiosity and delight that little Lucy did on that beautiful January morning?

Could we rediscover and ignite our passion for living in all the many areas of our lives – including the countless hours we spend at work?

Could we find a way to mute the thoughts that keep us from being totally present with people in our lives so that we could really be with them?

Could we let go of our preconceived ideas of how things are supposed to be and allow them to unfold the way they need to, trusting that we will summon whatever resources are necessary to deal with things as they come?

Could we respond to situations that push us out of our comfort zones with the fortitude and tenacity that Lucy displayed on the towering spiral slide?

Imagine what life would be like if we did…  How much more joy we would experience.  How creative we could be.  How courageous and resilient.  How our relationships would deepen and grow.  How meaningful our work would become.

I, for one, think it’s a question worth considering.  And just maybe, the very attention we put on the question will begin to illuminate the answers we need most.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cover-NewTag-04SEP2013For more on reconnecting with your childlike sense of wonder and joy, check out my book  The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader now available in both ebook and paperback formats on Amazon.

Photo courtesy of Jens Schott Knudsen.

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