One of the least-photographed, momentous life occasions, is a baby’s first steps. Not because it is not a golden photo op, but because it happens so randomly, without dress rehearsal, without formal invitations to the big show. Subsequent solos, of course, are painstakingly recorded, uploaded, and widely shared amidst plenty of cheering and clapping and Cheshire cat grins (self-congratulatory??). If the new-to-walking toddler diaper-waddles to the top of a staircase, everyone in the room springs into intervention mode, chilled at the thought of what could have happened (the baby gate is purchased the next day!). In just days, all sorts of precarious scenarios present themselves, scenarios never before imagined – standing on the sofa, on the coffee table, in the highchair, climbing the kitchen drawers to the countertops, reaching for the corner of a tablecloth for stability (especially if the table is already set for dinner!).* In no time, walking is an established milestone, and gives way – to running! And the adventure goes into high gear as the young athlete trots across the lawn toward the road, jubilant with this exhilarating, newfound freedom to explore the world. The problem is this chubby little marathoner is completely unaware of potential dangers, pitfalls, obstacles, that lie ahead. The tiny explorer’s brain is blissfully unaware, cheerfully unfettered, infantly innocent. If, after catching the mini runaway, you were to ask, “What were you thinking?” the quizzical look would seem to reply: “Thinking??”
Do you realize how easy it is to go mindlessly through an entire day? How automatic it can become to have no earthly idea what thoughts we are thinking? How judgey, critical, disapproving, cynical, angry, jealous are the contents clogging our gray matter? Or even, for that matter, how loving, supportive, generous, caring, compassionate? So if, at the end of a day, someone asks, “How was your day?” our thought center lurches to a halt, begins buffering, attempting to bring up something from our RAM (sometimes mine is way too ‘R’ to access!) While this non-attention to our think habits may seem as liberating as the above-mentioned future Olympian, as adults, it positions us for greater calamity than a freestyle jog to the center of the street (did I ever tell on my two brothers who were found playing marbles in a pothole in the middle of the gravel road in front of our house? [they miraculously survived into adulthood]). If we’re going to be ‘kind to everyone we meet’ on any consistent basis, some intentionality will be needed, some ‘paying attention to what we’re paying attention to,’ some new neural pathways (did you know our brains have 100 billion neurons and 1,000 to 10,000 synapses for each neuron?) In lo-tech speak, I think that means we can, all of us, successfully re-train a few of them to meet this most-worthy, Jesus-like, goal. Do let’s share how we get on! (BTW, that cheering you hear is from the ramparts of heaven.) PD
*do share some of your own stories!