You only live once. What are you doing with this life of yours?
I am becoming increasingly fascinated with my 10-year-old son’s approach to life. I’ve really found myself taking it in over the summer. I am in awe of his determination to live his best life. His enthusiasm is contagious. You know those people who you truly enjoy being with because they have this spark, this presence, this way about them? That is this boy, 100% and it is an honor that he is mine.
The older he gets, the easier it is to carry on a conversation and relate to him. I love hearing about his hopes and dreams, his plans and schemes. I’ve loved that for many years now, of course. Hearing him describe in detail the type of company he was going to create as an adult and be the CEO of when he was six years old was probably the best capture ever. My favorite part was no meetings. Or maybe it was the wine bar. Okay, I don’t have a favorite component of his dream company – every part of it is amazing. For those who follow my Facebook page, I’ll share the story for reference and entertainment.
I had a real moment of pure bliss during our snuba experience in Puerto Rico. If you’ve never done it (and none of us had), snuba is a hybrid of scuba and snorkeling. You have a breathing apparatus and you can go further underwater than you would if snorkeling while your air supply comes from a flotation device that stays on the surface. It was a really cool experience. Sadly, my husband tapped out halfway through because it just wasn’t for him. So it was just me, the boy, and our guide, making hand signals underwater, swimming around artifacts and reefs, and surrounded by fish. It’s one of those experiences that I don’t have pictures of, but it will be locked in my memory forever.
At one point, I looked up and saw the boy swimming like a dolphin. It was like he’d done this a hundred times before. He had listened intently to every word of instruction before we set out, passed all of the tests on the first round, and genuinely functioned like he was meant to be there. He saw things before I did and pointed them out to me. With every check along the way from our guide, he signaled that he was okay.
And I thought, what a life he is living. Then I caught myself and realized that I was living it too! Perhaps a form of living vicariously, but I will take it.
On our next excursion, he took more rounds on the rope swing into crystal clear river water than anyone else in our tour group. His energy was unstoppable.
Ask my husband what a great kayaking partner I am. I say this with pure sarcasm. I suck at finding the rhythm. When we kayaked from ocean to bay at twilight, I got paired with the boy who is still afraid of the dark but not of an adventure. It’s perplexing, really. At one point, he looked over his shoulder at me and said, “Look, I’ve done this many times. Just follow my instruction.” Little shit! hahaha. That’s a true statement though. He’s kayaked more than I have. If I take him to the lake with me, I’m paddle boarding and he’s finding a friend to kayak with.
Finally, as summer is wrapping up, he is finding his jam at the hockey rink of all places. Though we are still in trial mode, he is insistent that this is what he really wants to do. Lock it in. Dad explained to him just yesterday that his days of trying things out are over. We have done gymnastics, basketball, Taekwondo, football (both flag and tackle), soccer, and most recently baseball. He needs to pick something to stick with and really develop his skills. We have been one and done with some of these activities, and put multiple years into others.
Here’s the thing with hockey: I love the idea and I’m 100% in for my own selfish reasons. Texas summers are hot AF. I don’t have to worry about the elements or hold a vigilant weather watch for hailstorms in the spring. I always know what the temperature is going to be. A hoodie for me no matter what’s going on outside.
But here’s the thing for him (because that’s what really matters). He has no freaking clue what he is doing! The first time he wore ice skates was three Saturdays ago. He falls. A LOT. He is not taking to the ice the way that he took to the water in San Juan. He does not look like he has done this hundreds of times already. He does not look like he’s in his element. While he’s already getting better at forward skating, backwards is a struggle. He needs so much more practice to be where the high school aged kids who are coaching him are. They make it look effortless. He makes it look painful.
Here’s what he does have: desire and determination. Having tried all of these other sports, he knows that the pain is temporary. He knows that if he puts enough time and effort into this, he can excel. Knowing this, he shows up with enthusiasm to every session. And every time, he gets better.
What all of this observation of the boy has done for me is not only to further forge my admiration of the amazing human that he is, it has also helped me to realize that I’m an amazing human too. We all are. So what if you fall? So what if you fail? So what if it hurts? So what if you’re embarrassed? So what if you don’t even know what the hell you’re doing yet you show up anyway? How else are you going to grow?
At this point, you may be thinking a couple of things. Sure, it’s easy for the kid because he’s a kid – not so much for me. I’m too old. I’m too far gone to try something new. To that I say, Who says you can’t approach your life and your fears as if you are a fifth grader? As if you have nothing to lose? What if you did that? Who could you become?
You may also believe in reincarnation and that you don’t only live once. But here’s the thing, this life is an opportunity. No matter what your beliefs, this life can be your very best life.
And so I ask, how do you show up for this life of yours?
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