Walking Home

I was walking home from church today. It was a great day for a walk. The sun was setting and weather was warm. Since I was walking on the side of the road without the sidewalk I decided to do something I haven’t done since I was 10; I challenged myself to get to the main road by walking on the curb like it was a balance beam. Then I learned something, about the challenges we create for ourselves when we are young.

Kicking a pebble all the way home on a walk, not touching any cracks in the sidewalk, making sure none of your ice cream drips down the side of the cone. These are the big challenges we create for ourselves when we are 10. They are exciting and there is a sense of accomplishment in succeeding. We can’t challenge ourselves to get a good job, or find the perfect mate, instead we challenge ourselves to the little things. The things we know we can accomplish with some effort and determination. But now, as adults, what do we say to a child who cares so deeply about kicking that pebble all the way home? We say “hurry up,” or “you’ll get home faster if you just walk.”

As I walked along the curb a tree hung over it and I jumped down and went around instead of ducking and staying on the curb. Maybe it was because I felt silly or maybe I just knew that no harm would be done if I didn’t accomplish my goal of not falling off.

Maybe there was harm done though. What made me stop caring? When did we learn that those little triumphs weren’t worth celebrating? When did we start teaching kids that getting there faster is more important?

It’s not even like I tried and failed. I just gave up when I thought it might get too difficult.
To be honest, it really wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t make it the whole way walking on the curb. I still made it home. I did learn that maybe that’s why sticking to something even when there is an easier way is important. When we create challenges for ourselves it is important to try to achieve them. We should encourage children in their ‘silly’ pursuits. How else will they learn later to stick to what they start?

I like to think that maybe this means I won’t ever say “Who cares, you will get there faster if you just get down from there.”

Enjoying the journey is just about as important as making it to your destination.

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